As the weather gets colder, we're all reaching for our winter wardrobe favourites. From sweaters to scarves, our woolen clothes help keep us warm: but they also require special care to remain as good as new. Wool isn't like cotton or synthetic fabrics. It is a delicate natural fibre that needs to be hand-washed and gently handled- otherwise, it may pull out of shape. Similarly, it's not enough to just stuff them in the wardrobe- wool needs some extra care to remain warm and cozy! The question now is: how do we properly care for sweaters and winter wear? Here are some tips from us that will help you wash and care for your winter wear:
- Always check the tag on the clothing for washing instructions:
It may be tempting to cut the clothing tags out, but they contain useful information on how to care for your winter clothes. Most tags for winter clothes will advise to hand-wash; however, a few may be machine-washable. Follow the care instructions given on the clothing label for the best results.
You can always give your winter clothes for dry cleaning, but this can get expensive. It is possible to properly hand-wash winter clothes at home, if you know the right tips and tricks. Keep on reading to learn more.
- Hand-wash woolen clothes with a few drops of gentle detergent:
The best way to take care of grandma's knitted sweater or your favourite scarf is to hand-wash it. Most types of wool- Pashmina, Cashmere, Angora- all require a common method of gentle cleaning. Here are some tips to make sure you wash your woolens properly:
- Fill a bucket with water and add a few drops of gentle, wool-safe detergent such as PureCult laundry liquid.
- Pre-treat any stains by working a little detergent into the stain with your fingers, and gently rub on the stain before washing.
- Turn the garment inside out, submerge it in the bucket, and swish around (do not rub or wring the garment) so that the soap can work through the fibers. Do not soak for more than ten minutes.
- Rinse the garment in cool water, until the soap is removed. You may have to rinse twice.
- Do not wring the garment dry, as this can distort the fibres of the wool.
- If your winter clothes can be machine-washed:
If the label on your clothing says it can be machine-washed, make sure you follow the instructions as closely as possible.
- Avoid using powder detergents, as they can be harsh on wool. Use a mild liquid detergent, like PureCult laundry liquid.
- Turn woolen clothes inside out, and wash them on the delicate cycle- if your washing machine has a wool or hand-wash cycle, you can use those as well.
- Wash only using lukewarm or cold water.
- Add an extra cycle to rinse out the wool garment.
- It is best to run wool garments separately, without any other clothing that may contain hooks or buttons which can snare on the wool fibres and tug them apart.
- For items like woolen gloves, place them in a mesh or laundry bag before putting them in the washing machine. The bag will ensure the fibres don’t get loose and items like gloves (which are needed in pairs) don’t get separated. Such garments can be washed twice a month, ideally.
- Treat stains right away:
That hot chocolate may make you feel lazy right now, but if you don't act soon, it can permanently stain your precious wool sweater. Stains on wool are much harder to remove once they are set. Act fast to have your winter garment looking as good as new:
- Pre-treat the stain before handwashing by gently rubbing a wool-safe liquid detergent on it. Turn the garment inside out.
- Wash the garment in the wool or gentle cycle, and make sure the water temperature is cool.
- Select the slowest speed for the final spin cycle, so you can minimise stretching of the fabric.
- Once it is washed, air-dry the garment (do not wring it) by placing it on a soft, dry towel, under indirect sunlight.
- Treat your woolen clothes gently:
Wool garments, when handled with care, can become an investment that lasts for years. For woolen clothes to retain their soft, fluffy shape, it's important to treat them as gently as possible.
- Avoid the temptation to wring your woolen garments or use a fast spin cycle when machine-washing them.
- Squeeze out excess water by rolling the garment in a towel, and pressing out any excess towel. Afterwards, place them flat on a clean, dry towel. Dry them on a flat surface- if you hang them on a clothesline, the clips can pull the fibres out of shape.
- Don't try to dry your woolen garments using a dryer or any source of high heat. This can shrink the garment.
- For winter clothes that aren’t made of wool:
Sweaters are warm and cozy, but they're not the only winter wear these days. For the active and adventurous, down jackets are a standard piece of clothing in their winter wardrobe. Here are some tips to wash and dry your winter jackets:
- Like with your sweaters, check the clothing tag for instructions on how to wash them. Most winter jackets are usually machine-washable.
- Brush any mud and dirt off the jacket gently using the hand (do not use a harsh brush). Make sure all the pockets are empty, then close all zippers. This will help protect the outer layer from ripping in the washing machine.
- Gently rub liquid detergent into any areas that require immediate spot-stain removal.
- Normal detergents should not be used for items like winter jackets, as they may damage the fabric. Clean out the detergent compartment of your washing machine, as residue from normal soaps can damage the jacket. Use a gentle liquid detergent like PureCult laundry wash.
- Use cold water and run on a "handwash" or "delicate" setting. It is better to run the jacket on a separate washing cycle, so it doesn't get caught on other clothes.
- Run a rinse cycle soon after the jacket has been washed, otherwise it may develop a damp smell. To dry it off, run a couple of spin cycles, then gently squeeze any excess water out by hand- but do not wring the jacket, as it may lose its shape.
- Keep them smelling fresh:
- Wool garments should not be washed frequently as they can lose their shape, and don't last long. To prevent odours and dirt from transferring onto them, wear an undershirt before wearing your sweaters- this way, you can reduce washing.
- Wool garments can be deodorised by spreading them outdoors, in mild sunlight, for some time.
- One simple hack to keep your winter clothes smelling fresh and ready-to-wear is to keep sachets of potpourri or dried herbs in the cupboard. These lend a soft, natural and fresh fragrance that keeps your clothes smelling good in storage. Another way to achieve this is by using a laundry detergent that contains natural essential oils and fragrance, like PureCult’s laundry detergent with geranium and lavender.
- Always make sure you clean and wash your winter clothes before packing them away for the next season, because even a tiny odour or stain can increase the risk of mold forming over the year. Make sure your winter clothes are cleaned and dried thoroughly, to minimise odours forming over storage.
- Iron to remove wrinkles:
Sweaters and other woolen wear can be ironed to remove any wrinkles or creases after hand-washing. But it is important to remember the following:
- Do not iron your woolen clothes when they are completely dry, as this won't remove the deep creases. You also run the risk of burning your woolen clothes under direct, dry heat.
- Don't let your garments come in direct contact with the hot iron. Place a plain white, mildly-wet cloth over the garment so it can protect your garment.
- For winter jackets made of synthetic fibres like polyester, it is better to steam the garments, as it is safer for the fabric. However, if you don't have a steaming press, don't worry: proceed cautiously by turning the garment inside out, lightly damping the fabric and ironing with a thin cotton sheet over the polyester. It is best to use your iron in steam mode and go slowly, to avoid burning the fabric.
- Keep them free of germs and moisture:
Wool is a natural fiber, and as a result it is vulnerable to moth attacks and germ build-up. It is important to make sure your winter garments are not a breeding ground for germs. These simple steps can help reduce the risk of damage:
- Make sure your garments are completely dry and free of moisture, so mold or mildew cannot form.
- Store your woolens in covered boxes, cases or covers so they are not exposed to the air.
- Place mothballs on the shelf where you store your winter garments. Mothballs help ward off moths, protecting your precious wool garments.
- Store them properly:
Properly storing your winter clothes is a big step in extending their life. They may be used only one season, but they need to be stored properly for the rest of the year to ensure their shape, comfort and cleanliness. Here are some tips to store your winter clothes:
- Store them in a spot that's cool, dry, and away from sunlight. The area should not experience any fluctuations in temperature, as this can damage clothing. It should also not be a humid place, as moisture can cause mold to form.
- Instead of double-folding your sweaters, triple-fold them to avoid a crease occurring at the middle. Better yet, roll them up so you can safely store them while retaining their shape.
- Make sure your winter clothes are not crammed up on a shelf. This can cause them to lose their shape. Stack them up with enough space for them to sit comfortably.
- The best way to preserve your winter clothes is to store them first in a bag (like a cloth cover) before storing them in a cupboard. This adds an extra layer of protection from the air, moths, and moisture.
- Place mothballs in the shelf or cupboard with your winter clothing to prevent them from attacking your clothes. An earth-friendly alternative to mothballs include lavender sachets, dried mint sachets, or even cloves!
Winter is the season of warmth and coziness. Make sure you’re ready to face winter by keeping your winter clothes fresh, clean, and ready to wear!