The Secret(s) to Keeping My Favorite Sweaters Looking New for Many Years

Welcome to the 574th Metamorphosis Monday!

A few days ago I blogged about a unique company that specializes in making beautiful cashmere sweaters at affordable price points. I loved the story behind the company and ended up purchasing several of their sweaters. If you missed that previous post, you’ll find it here: Two Hilarious Videos & Ordering Cashmere from a Company with a Sense of Humor.

 

Since I dislike being cold with a passion, I love sweaters and purchase a few new ones each year. I almost always purchase a Fair Isle sweater when winter comes around. This one below was the one I added to my sweater collection this year. You’ll find it here, although most sizes seem to be currently out of stock: Fair Isle Sweater. If you like this sweater, bookmark the page and check it frequently. A lof to times an item you want will come back in stock or they’ll get a few returns.

Since I shared my recent post about the cashmere sweater I ordered, I’ve had several questions about how I wash and care for my cashmere sweaters. Over the years I’ve touched on that topic a few times. I do like to keep my clothes looking as close to new as possible. That’s the wonderful thing about buying quality-made clothing in classics styles: it’s usually hard-wearing and you’re able to enjoy it for many years since classic clothing really never goes out of style.

Fair Isle Sweater, Navy, White and Gray

 

How I Care for My Sweaters and Keep Them Looking Great for Many Years

A few years back I got hooked on these shirt-jackets from J. Crew. I don’t think they carried them this year. I ended up buying several from their online store, their online outlet and from eBay. Three of the shirt-jackets I purchased and wear are 100 wool. They are not scratchy in the least so I live in them during winter, wearing them over turtlenecks or long-sleeve shirts.

J. Crew Buffalo Check Shirt Jacket

 

When they need to be washed, I do not dry clean them as recommended on the label since I’ve never liked the way my clothes look or feel after being drycleaned. Instead, I wash them in my favorite Wool/Cashmere Shampoo by The Laundress. It works great! (You’ll find it available here: Wool and Cashmere Shampoo.)

 

When washing a wool or cashmere sweater, I add a couple of capfuls of the wool/cashmere shampoo to a tub of cold water. I usually wash each sweater individually in a little white tub I’ve had for years. Any large container like this will do.

I slowly swirled and move the sweater around, very gently scrubbing any areas like the cuff/sleeve areas that tend to get dirty more easily. When it’s time to rinse the sweater, I drain off the soapy water, gently pressing the sweater against the side of the tub. I refill the tub with cold water and rinse out the suds. I usually rinse a sweater twice just to make sure I’ve gotten all the shampoo out.

When washing a sweater, especially a wool/cashmere sweater, you don’t want to “wring” the water out. Wringing out a sweater, especially a cashmere or wool sweater, can pull them out of shape. So it’s best to press the water out gently.

Once I’ve pressed the sweater up against the side of the tub or the sink and I’ve gotten out as much water as possible (without wringing) if I still feel like there’s too much left in the sweater, I will next lay the sweater out on a big fluffy towel and roll it up in the towel. After about 10 minutes, I unroll it and either hang or lay it flat to dry.

 

Since my wool shirt-jackets aren’t that heavy, I normally just hang them on a standing drying rack.

 

If it’s a weighty sweater, I lay it out flat on this drying rack that I purchased a couple of years back. (You’ll find this rack available here: Flat, Drying Rack with Fold Up Legs.)

Here’s how my wool shirt-jacket looked after being washed. There was no fading and it came out feeling really soft and plush. Because I’m always wearing either a turtleneck or long-sleeve t-shirt underneath my sweaters, they don’t need washing that often. The washing process goes quickly when they do need it.

 

I really like this wool/cashmere shampoo because it doesn’t leave behind a scent or smell on my sweaters at all. I purchased this shampoo here: Wool Cashmere Shampoo.

 

Since I’ve been so happy with The Laundress Delicate Wash and their Wool/Cashmere Shampoo, I decided to try their Signature Detergent for my other clothes. I like that it’s “allergen-free.” I ordered it last night and I’m eager to give it a try.

I wash all my every day, non-wool clothes in the handwash basket of my washing machine. I think this will be a gentle way to wash those clothes. You’ll find it available here: Signature Detergent.

The Laudress Signature Shampoo

 

De-pilling My Sweaters

Whenever you wear a wool or cashmere sweater, or even a cotton sweater for that matter, they all tend to get little fuzzies on them, especially in the areas that get rubbed a bit, like underneath the arms and on the underside of the sleeves.

Barbour Snowflake Wool Alpaca Sweater

 

There are all kinds of devices out there for removing those little pills. A favorite of mine are these inexpensive sweater combs. They work great! This set is available here: Sweater Comb for Pills & Fuzz

Removes pills, pilling, fuzz from wool & cashmere sweaters

 

For my wool/alpaca Barbour sweater, I used the comb above on the left that’s designed for thicker sweaters.  It’s a little hard to see, but the darker pieces you see in the photo below are the pills it grabbed on a few swipes over the surface. I can’t believe how easy and well this little sweater comb works!

How to Remove Pills and Fuzz from Sweaters

 

Here’s how my Barbour snowflake sweater looked after just a few swipes across the top–so much better!

Barbour Snowflake Sweater

 

The combs also worked great on this cotton sweater.

Orvis Sweater

 

You can see some of the fuzzies sticking up in front of the comb.

Great way to remove pills and fuzz from sweaters

 

Here’s what the comb picked up after one or two swipes. You can see the little pills it caught below. Really happy with how these sweater combs work!

Easy way to remove pills, fuzz from sweaters

 

For more delicate, lighter-weight sweaters like this cashmere sweater below, the comb on the right below works best.

Removes pills, pilling, fuzz from wool & cashmere sweaters

 

You can see a few pills on this sweater in the picture below.

Pilling on Cashmere Sweater

 

To remove the little pills/fuzzies, I lay the sweater out on a flat surface like a table, then holding the top of the sweater with my left hand, I pull the comb down the sweater with my right hand.

How to remove pilling & fuzz from cashmere sweater

 

Here’s how the sweater looked afterward–much better!

Cashmere Sweater After Remove Pills, Fuzz

 

I can’t recommend these two little combs highly enough. They work great and I love how small they are because I often take them along with me when I’m traveling during the fall/winter. I purchased the two I use in a set here: Sweater Combs.

Removes pills, pilling, fuzz from wool & cashmere sweaters

 

Last night, out of curiosity, I purchased this battery-operated pill remover that appears to have good reviews. I’ll report back and let you know how I like it once it arrives and I have a chance to test it out. In case you’re interested in trying this one, you’ll find it here: Sweater Depiller & Lint Remover.

Sweater Depiller, Lint Remover

 

Looking forward to all the wonderful Before and Afters linked for this week’s Met Monday!

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Comments

  1. Thank you so much for hosting. This week I am excited to share my creative ways to use vintage containers as vases, and my favorite books for parenting teens. Hope you have a great week!

  2. I absolutely loved the videos! Thanks for posting.

  3. Jean from Georgia says

    I had forgotten the many steps I followed to take care of every one of my sweaters. It was an entire weekend adventure. That was over 40 years ago and I had multiple frames for drying my sweaters. Prior to children and other time consuming activities that was a practice I enjoyed. Now that I have the time, I had forgotten this time consuming procedure. Think I will put out a cashmere sweater today and give it a bath. Thanks for the reminder.

    • I don’t mind washing them since I wear a long-sleeve t-shirt or turtleneck under all my winter sweaters, so they don’t need it that often. It’s so nice when you can just wash them at home and not have to have them dry cleaned, isn’t it?

  4. Great sweater tips Susan, thank you!

  5. Hi, nice and informative post. Beware of the battery pill remover. If too much pressure on the sweater it may damage it (the fibre may be sucked into the Little wholes then will be cut) . It happened to me.

    • Ohh, thanks for the warning, Joanne! I’ll be extra careful when I try it out. I may just stick with the combs since they work so well and I’ve never damaged a sweater with them.

  6. I’ve been using the Laundress shampoo and the combs since you first recommended them, and that has saved so many sweaters. I also use those lingerie washing zip-up bags with them, on gentle cycle and cold water, with no problems. Thanks for the great tips!

    • That’s wonderful, Mia! I love those zip-up bags, too. I use those for my lingerie.

    • Since sweaters are a winter wardrobe staple where I live; like Mia I use lingerie washing bags and launder on gentle cycle so can do more than one at a time as group according to color. Also to dry; I normally shape first then just drape (the body and portion of the arms) over a horizontal over-head bar similar to what shower curtains are suspended from or what you may find in a double/triple closet. I find this method of drying not only frees up floor space in the laundry area but allows pretty good air circulation for quick drying (as heat rises whereas cold air falls). -Brenda-

      • Brenda, do you wash your cashmere sweaters on a gentle cycle? I wash all my regular cotton sweaters that way…in my handwash basket in my ancient GE washer, but I wash all my wool and cashmere sweaters by hand. I’m afraid to not wash them that way. lol
        I agree. I have two sets of shower doors in my two bathroom and I open those and hang clothes over the top quite frequently, as long as I know they won’t stretch out. I don’t find I have to wash my sweaters that often since I always wear a turtleneck or long sleeve shirt under them. That helps that they don’t need it that often.

        • @Susan: Yes, launder ‘all’ my sweaters in my washing machine on the gentle cycle. It too is a relic (doesn’t even have a basket) but depending on how many I’m washing at a time (always in separate lingerie bags) I can control the length of timing for washing (a couple of swishes) but only use one complete rinse and spin then remove immediately, shape and hang to dry. Like yourself though, I always have an underlay of some type as best described as cold blooded .. lol! (I’m definitely living in the wrong hemisphere) … but like to freshen them up at least after the 3rd wear.
          -Brenda-

  7. Susan, I was glad to see this article. I would like your opinion on how to wash a dress from Talbots. I bought 2 different dresses at Talbots in the fall. They have almost the exact same fabrics except maybe 1% off on the spandex. One says dry clean and one says you can wash or dry clean. The fabric is 63% rayon, 32% nylon, 5% spandex, lining 100% polyester. I hate to dry clean also. Do you think I could wash the one that says dry clean? Here’s a link https://www.talbots.com/ponte-grosgrain-trim-sheath-dress—colorblock/P193036201.html?cgid=apparel-dresses&dwvar_P193036201_color=IVORY&dwvar_P193036201_sizeType=MS#start=1&sz=108. This one I washed and it did fine. https://www.talbots.com/ladder-trim-ponte-fit-and-flare-dress/P192036801.html?cgid=apparel-dresses&dwvar_P192036801_color=INDIGO%20BLUE&dwvar_P192036801_sizeType=MS#start=1&sz=126

    • Sandy, I wash all my dry cleaning clothes in cold water on the gentle cycle. I’ve never had a problem. I think they put that label on the clothes in case some people don’t wash with care and tend to blame the manufacturer.

    • @Sandy: IMHO; even though not all rayon, nylon or even spandex are equal (just like cotton or linen etc.) I cannot see why DIY laundering isn’t an option but might suggest that — a) check for color fastness first to ensure it does ‘not’ bleed b) ensure it is cold water wash c) do not wring out but blot instead and drip-dry hang. Will also add, be prepared to do some touch-up ironing. Also, you might also wish to consider using a DIY dry cleaning kit that requires the use of a conventional dryer. i.e.: Woolite – At Home Dry Cleaner (removes odors, stains, releases wrinkles not suitable for fur/leather/suede/velvet). -Brenda-

    • Love both of those dresses, Nita! Umm, I’m a little afraid to give advice on these because they are such beautiful pieces. I wear almost nothing but cotton and linen in the summer and cotton and wool/cashmere in the winter, except for my jeggings. I remember a long time agao I had a dress that rayon, I think and it did not do well when I washed it even by hand. The first dress you linked to, that one really scares me since one half is dark and the other half is light/ivory. I’d be so afraid it might bleed. If you do decide to wash it by hand, be sure to put several color catchers in the tub/sink you wash it in. I lean toward dry cleaning that dress to be on the safe side.

      • Thank you Nita, Brenda, Susan for the useful advice. I decided to have the black and white one with the grosgrain ribbon cleaned. I didn’t think about the colors bleeding. I was concerned the ribbon would shrink. Both could happen. I washed the navy one and it did well. It had some wrinkles when wet but looked better after it dried. It will need a touch up with the iron. Hope that will work. I didn’t see anything about washing/cleaning in the reviews on Talbots.

  8. My suggestion for the battery-operated ‘clothing shaver’ is to use it with a very light touch until you’re able to determine how powerful (or weak) it is and how sharp the blades are, and maybe try it on a bath towel or blanket before using it on clothing. Mine is rather powerful and I have the best success with just ‘dabbing’ it onto pills or fuzz rather than running it up or down the fabric.

    • Thanks, Mary! I realized last night I have an electric one from Brookstone. I tried it on a sweater and it worked great, so I’m not sure I’m going to open the new one I just purchased that came yesterday. Appreciate those tips, I don’t want to cut my sweaters!

  9. Hi Susan – I’m definitely going to try those combs – I’ve never had much luck with the rotary de-fuzzers. I’ll be curious to see what you think of your battery operated one. Thanks as always for the great ideas and helpful hints! PS I ordered one of the cashmere sweaters – I can’t wait to get it!

    • Barbara, the first rotary one I had years ago was terrible. It was a small, inexpensive one. A couple of days ago I found one I had put away in a closet that came from Brookstone and tried it on a sweater and it did an amazing job. So I may not open/keep the one that I recently ordered and that came yesterday.
      So you may want to try some of the newer ones, I think they haven’t gotten better, at least the one I have from Brookstone did a great job on the hooded cashmere sweater I purchased from Naadam recently. I’ve been wearing that sweater a lot so it was starting to get a few pills.

  10. Thanks for answering my question on the care of cashmere sweaters. I need to get these pill removers. I have a small battery operated one, and an electric one that I bought many years ago, but they can cut your sweaters (I learned that the hard way). The ones you use seem safer. I will have to get some of the cashmere detergent.

  11. Thank you for hosting! Can’t wait to hear how that battery-operated lint remover works.

  12. Hi Susan, I just wanted to let you know that I use the Laundress signature laundry products and love them. I especially love to wash my bed linens in the signature scent, use the alternative bleach and the fabric softener. I hope you love the products as much as I do.

  13. Gail Simpson says

    I have had good luck with the battery operated pill remover from Walmart. It is called a portable fabric shaver by Mainstays ( Walmart’s brand). It is $9.99 and takes 2 AA batteries. You find it near where they keep the sticky lint rollers. Over the years when I have needed just a little gift for someone I have given this and people love it !

  14. I always use baby shampoo to wash my cashmere and do it the same way you do. It also works beautifully.

  15. Thanks so much for hosting each week!!
    Hugs,
    Debbie

  16. Nita, thank you for the advice. I talked to my friend who sews. She thinks in this case it’s better to have it cleaned since it has the grosgrain ribbon trim which might shrink when washed. I normally don’t buy dry clean fabrics but didn’t notice it on this one. I’m glad to know I can wash other fabrics that say dry clean. They discontinued the hand wash detergent that I liked so I was glad to see the one Susan talks about here is a good alternative.

  17. Cyndi Raines says

    Susan, thanks for posting about the combs again, I am going to order them not only for my sweaters, but it stated the one comb is also good for other clothes. I hate those little pills, ugh! I also will chime in with the others to say be on guard using the electric shavers as it can cut your clothing very quickly and that is very disturbing and then the item is ruined. I don’t use the electric one now as it has happened too may times, so I am looking forward to the combs. Oh, and I LOVE my new socks you recommended. They really are wonderful, so soft and do a great job in keeping my feet warm without getting over-heated. Keep those recommendations coming, I love your tips. Hugs!

  18. Susan, purchased two sets of the combs when you had mentioned them in the earlier post (one as stocking stuffer for my dtr.) and they do work beautifully. Actually too, I used the less abrasive one (on the right) to see it would help lift a stain on one of my suede purses and it worked as loosened it so the residue could be just brushed off whereas a suede brush did nothing. Also re the battery operated type, when using on a sweater suggest you use caution as it can ruin the fibers very quickly if aggressive and overtime can result in what resembles bald spots in the nap.
    -Brenda-

  19. Susan, thanks so much for this info on caring for sweaters, with everything in one post. I love sweaters, all kinds, and love taking care of them! The sudsy bath and lovely smell; the careful drying and storing — it’s almost therapeutic. To put on a special sweater you’ve cared for yourself is a joy — and surely beats having it done by the dry cleaner! Ugh!!
    BTW, I’ve been searching and searching, and finally found the old link I asked you about (I think): Music of Nature by Lang Elliott. Your suggestion many moons ago, and it’s wonderful for background sound. Love your blog, Susan! Marlene

  20. I luv “Laundress” products!! Wearing my new cashmere sweater this weekend…thanx for your tips!! franki

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