I’ve been in the honeymoon stage with my sweaters lately, but with our first freeze coming later this week, it’s getting real.
Winter is coming.
I know I’m going to lean on my sweaters heavily these next few months, so it’s time to get serious. If I want them to have my back all winter long, I’m going to have to do the same for them.
In this post, we’ll cover everything from pesky pills, to keeping sweaters fresh between washes, to hand washing techniques, to how I store my sweaters.
Sweaters shown above: Cream fisherman sweater (old by Banana Republic) | similar with turtleneck | similar under $90 | similar under $70 | similar under $50 // Grey sweater by Topshop (Fit note: I’m wearing a 6) | similar // Black and white marled sweater (old) | similar
1 | Say hello to the defuzzing comb (and goodbye to pills)
No matter the quality of your knits, you’re bound to run into some pills. High quality knits, low quality knits — most all of them pill at some point.
The good news is that there’s an inexpensive solution: A two dollar defuzzing comb. This little guy will easily eliminate your pills when they pop up. Battery operated fabric shavers exist too, but personally, I think the comb is easier to use.
I comb all of my sweaters and flannels as soon as they come out for the season. Then I keep on top of it — if I notice a pill, I take ten seconds and comb it out right then and there.
That’s the key: consistency. Don’t let pills build up — comb them out as soon as you notice them. Simple as that.
A defuzzing comb also works well for yoga pants, flannel shirts, and pretty much anything else that might get pills.
2 | Wear a base layer under your sweaters
Q: What’s easier to wash? A cashmere sweater or a plain tee?
A: The tee!
A base layer tee can protect your sweater and keep it cleaner, longer, by creating a barrier between your sweater and your skin. Since your sweater isn’t up next to your skin, it’s less likely to absorb oils and odors. Instead, the base layer takes that hit, while your sweater stays fresh.
Wearing a base layer can also help take the itch out of wool or mohair sweaters.
To me, the key to a good base layer is softness and a little bit of stretch. This is my favorite long sleeve base layer I’ve found so far (shown in the photo above). It’s fitted, but not too tight, it’s soft and lightweight, and it has just the right amount of stretch. It runs true to size — however, I did get it in petite since I didn’t want the length to be too long. Here’s a similar short sleeve version.
3 | Sanitize with a steamer
If you’ve been around here for very long, you’ve heard me talk about my steamer. I rarely travel without it, and I usually end up using it a couple of times a week at home, too.
When you think of steaming clothes, the first thing that probably comes to mind is removing wrinkles. But! It does so much more. Steaming sanitizes clothes by actually killing any bacteria that might be lurking in the fibers. Because of that, it can even remove faint odors.
I use a small travel steamer, like this one. It’s an excellent way to “wash” your clothes between washes. (I love using it as an excuse to do less laundry.)
4 | Deodorize with a sweater spray
When my sweaters have an odor that steaming alone won’t cut, I have one last trick in my bag: a sweater freshening spray.
I use this Wool + Cashmere spray by The Laundress. It removes odor and it’s got antibacterial properties, plus it’s a natural moth repellent.
All of my sweaters get a light mist of this stuff when they come out for the season and when they go back into storage at the end of the season.
However, for day to day use, the scent can be a little strong. So I use mine sparingly and usually only spray trouble spots, like under the arms. It’s powerful, and a little goes a long way.
5 | Hand wash when needed.
You’ve taken all the preventative measures. You’ve worn a base layer, you’ve steamed, you’ve sprayed. But it’s time to call it: this sweater needs a wash.
Most sweaters say dry clean only, but I’m not a fan of dry cleaning. Instead, I hand wash.
Start with a clean sink (avoid using a bleach cleaner on the sink). Fill your sink up with water and add a mild detergent. I like this one for sweaters. Gently agitate any stains or smelly spots with your fingers, then let it soak for about 5 minutes. Rinse thoroughly, then roll it up in a towel to get extra moisture off — don’t wring it out. Finally, lay it flat to dry, gently reshaping if needed.
If hand washing isn’t something you want to do, try putting your sweater in a pillowcase or in a lingerie bag and running it through the washer on a gentle cycle with a mild detergent. I rarely (if ever) do this because putting a dry clean only sweater in the washing machine is a risk. Make sure you do a bit of research on the fabric content of your sweater first.
Some sweaters can look wrinkled after a wash, so give it a quick steam to release the wrinkles and fluff the fibers.
Lightning round Q+A
How often do you wash your sweaters?
With all the preventative steps I take, probably about once a month. Maybe I can stretch it to two months if I’m super careful.
Do you hang or fold your sweaters?
I keep mine folded in drawers, since hanging them can cause them to lose their shape. I also keep a satchel of lavender buds in there too, as a natural moth and bug repellant.
How do you store your sweaters for long term storage?
First, I start with clean sweaters — the cleaner they are, the less likely they are to attract moths and bugs. Next, I fold them and put them in a plastic bin with my other off season clothes, making sure to give everything room and not pack it too tightly. Some say storing clothes in plastic is a no-no, but it’s what I have right now, so it’s what I’m using. Maybe someday I’ll upgrade to a canvas box. Finally, the bin goes into a spare closet in the house (so that it’s room temperature) and I keep the lid slightly open, so the clothes have a bit of airflow.
What if I get a hole in my sweater?
If you’re handy with a crochet needle, you can do a little research and fix it yourself. But if not, a seamstress can usually fix it for you, no problem!
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And there you have it!
Got any tips to add to this list? I think I can speak for us all when I say, I’d love to hear them! Share away in the comments below.
See you Thursday!