If you’re anything like me, you’re probably getting really excited about spring clothes about now. But before we pack away all our winter clothes and rush head first into spring, let’s take a moment to show our sweaters some appreciation by giving them a bit of proper care. Taking good care of our clothes is one easy and inexpensive way we can be responsible consumers.
In this post, we’ll chat sweater care and proper storage. We’ll cover everything from pesky pills, to hand washing techniques, to how I store my sweaters.
Ready? Let’s jump in!
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 six 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.
So, give your sweaters, knits, and coats a once-over with a defuzzing comb and they’ll be ready to go next fall.
Tip: It can feel like a time-consuming task, so I like to break it up by defuzzing a few sweaters at night while my husband and I watch TV — I bring four or five sweaters to the couch with me, cozy up, and start defuzzing.
2 | Sanitize with a steamer, hand wash, or dry cleaning
The best way to preserve sweaters is to simply clean them before storing. However, it’s all too easy to skip this step, especially if your knits don’t look dirty.
But looks can be deceiving — even if sweaters don’t look dirty, tiny food and skin particles can attract moths. And, speaking as a gal who dealt with a moth infestation this fall, I don’t want to mess around with them ever again. (RIP three favorite sweaters.)
The best way to clean your sweaters is to take them to an eco-friendly green dry cleaner, but that can get expensive. If you don’t want to go the dry cleaning route, you’ve got three other options:
- STEAMING: 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, but I’m thinking of upgrading soon to a larger steamer, like this one. It’s an excellent way to “wash” your clothes between washes.
- HAND WASH: If you want to hand wash, start with a clean sink (avoid using a bleach cleaner on the sink beforehand). 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.
- GENTLE CYCLE: 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. Note: I rarely (if ever) do this because putting a dry clean only sweater in the washing machine is a big risk — it can shrink or possibly ruin the sweater. Make sure you research the fabric content of your sweater first and proceed with caution.
Some sweaters can look wrinkled after a wash, so give it a quick steam to release the wrinkles and fluff the fibers.
3 | Repel moths with a sweater spray
Finally, take one last step against moths by spraying your sweaters with a sweater spray. I use this Wool + Cashmere spray by The Laundress. It removes odor and it’s got antibacterial properties.
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. It’s powerful, and a little goes a long way.
4 | Store properly
I’ll say it again — proper storage starts with clean clothes. The cleaner the clothes, the less likely they are to attract moths and bugs that might ruin them.
After I’ve defuzzed, cleaned, and sprayed my clothes, I fold everything and put them in a plastic set of drawers with my other off season clothes, making sure to give everything room and not pack it too tightly.
The plastic drawers live in 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.
(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, tuck in a couple of lavender sachets, and you’re finished!
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And there you have it! Four steps to ensure longevity for your winter clothes.
Now it’s your turn — how do you prepare your winter clothes for storage? What do you do to ensure the longevity of your winter clothes? Got any tips to add to this list? I’d love to hear ’em!