Style Bee - Sweater Revelation + Care Tips

HOW I CARE FOR MY KNITWEAR

02.27.19

Would you believe me if I told you I’ve barely had to wash a single sweater this season? Well, it’s the truth and yet, I’ve worn one almost every day for the last few months.

So here’s the deal, it all started out as laziness but when I read that my friend Andrea (Seasons & Salt) wasn’t washing her sweaters much either, I figured we might be onto something. So I carried on and, wow, what a difference this small change has made to both my sweaters and my winter! No dry-cleaner runs, time-consuming hand-washes or tragic shrinking incidents. In fact, with less laundering my sweaters have stayed in better shape and I’ve worn them more than ever!

Of course, I’ve been using a few tricks to keep my wool, cashmere and alpaca knits looking, smelling and feeling fresh all season long. So today I’ll be sharing 4 simple ways I care for my knitwear in the hopes that those tips might help you find more time between washes to wear what you love and enjoy life.

So let’s take a look!


Please note: While this post focuses mainly on wool fibres, the tips I’ve included are applicable to synthetic and cotton knitwear too.


Style Bee - Sweater Revelation + Care Tips
Style Bee - Sweater Revelation + Care Tips

WASH-FREE SWEATER CARE

TIP 1 – WEAR A BASE LAYER T-SHIRT



Wearing a base layer under my sweaters has been so helpful in keeping them fresh. This way I can simply throw my cotton tees into the wash instead of embarking on the arduous task of hand-washing or the costly dry-cleaning of a sweater, which can also degrade the fibres. Not-to-mention the added warmth and how they cut out any trace of itchiness that might still nag at my sensitive skin.

Key features of a good base t-shirt:

  • Light weight – So it doesn’t add unnecessary bulk or warmth.
  • Slim fit – A tee that hugs the frames of fits close to the body is best so that you’re not fussing with any bunching.
  • 100% Cotton – If not 100% a high percentage for breathability. Organic is great if you can swing it.
  • Crew Neck – The higher the neck line the better so that the sweater comes into less contact with your skin.
  • Short or Long sleeves – Rather than a tank or sleeveless tee so that your underarms are insulated from the sweater.
  • Neutral Colours – White, nude or camel tones for under light sweaters and grey, navy or black for under dark sweaters.

My personal favourites:

Everlane: Cotton Crew, Micro Rib or Pima Cotton Tees

Organic Basics: Organic Cotton Tees in Black & White


Style Bee - Sweater Revelation + Care Tips

WASH-FREE SWEATER CARE

TIP 2 – TURN SWEATERS INSIDE OUT


Style Bee - Sweater Revelation + Care Tips

My next trick is even easier than the first one. When I’m done wearing a sweater for the day, I simply turn it inside out and hang it up (on a wooden hanger, never wire). Then I leave it on my clothes rack to air out over night. You could also hang your hanger on a door knob, wall hook, banister or anywhere there will be a good amount of air circulation. If it’s not too cold out, a little breeze from a window works wonders!

Expert tip: Don’t leave sweaters hanging too long because the shoulders can lose their shape but a day or so shouldn’t hurt.

FOR AN EXTRA REFRESH & SANITIZE

Fibres like wool, alpaca and cashmere are naturally anti-bacterial and odour-repellent so they’re doing most of the work for us. But if you want to go an extra step to refresh your knits, you can use a steamer to sterilize or eliminate creases and/or spritz with a cedar spray to keep them smelling fresh.


Style Bee - Sweater Revelation + Care Tips

WASH-FREE SWEATER CARE

TIP 3 – STORE PROPERLY



Storing your knitwear is another key factor in keeping your sweaters feeling fresher. If you wear a sweater all day then leave it in a heap on the floor, chances are it’s not making it back out for another day. But if instead, you keep it neatly folded, gently stacked (to limit creases) and visibly stored in a drawer or on a shelf, you’re much more likely to wear it again. I keep my most worn sweaters on an eye-level shelf in my closet so I can see them easily.

For my longer, bulkier cardigans and sweater coats I tend to fold and hang them on a wooden hanger on my clothes rack where they’re in the open and at the ready for another day’s wear (shown above).


LONG-TERM STORAGE

During the summer I always store my winter closet away, in either a large suitcase or storage bins under our bed. Before packing away my knits I always:

  • Make sure any sweaters that really need a thorough clean get one (either via eco dry-cleaner or hand wash)
  • Ensure they’re fully dry
  • Give them a spritz with cedar spray
  • Carefully fold and lightly pack, without compressing them too tightly
  • Seal the container so that no pests can sneak in

HERE’S HOW I FOLD MY SWEATERS IN 4 SIMPLE STEPS


SWEATER CARE

TIP 4 – SWEATER MAINTENANCE TOOLS


If I’m being honest, I don’t use most of the sweater care tools I have very often. By washing/dry-cleaning my knits less, I’ve found that the fibres are not as prone to fraying, pilling and fuzzing. But when the time does come for a tune up, I typically give them a once over with a sweater comb or stone and then use a dull razor to gently shave off any stubborn areas (ie: high friction spots like under the arm).

FRESH SCENTS + SPOT CLEANING

I use The Laundress Cedar Spray between wears (and for long-term storage) and I spot clean with Stain Remover.

HAND WASHING

When I feel like a proper hand wash is absolutely needed I use The Laundress Wool & Cashmere Shampoo and individually soak sweaters in a clean sink. I’ve been using it on my Everlane cashmere and merino wool knits for several years and they come out looking clean and smelling fresh. I find they usually shrink a bit once fully dry so I use a steamer to relax the fibres back to their original state.

The travel kit is a great option if you’re just assembling some sweater care tools.



Style Bee - Sweater Revelation + Care Tips

HOW TO KEEP MOTHS AWAY


Moths are a common concern for us knitwear lovers. The good news is that there are some easy, natural and inexpensive options that help keep them away. Moths are drawn to undisturbed corners that are dark and warm so keeping your sweaters in a bright, cool, high-traffic area is best (ie: not sitting idle in the corner of an old cupboard). But if you don’t have the option to keep your knitwear in a more open space there are some other easy solutions:

1 – Sweater Spray Try a natural sweater spray such as the Laundress Sweater Spray in Cedar to spritz sweaters between wears or before going into seasonal storage. Cedar smells great to us but it’s a natural moth repellent.

2 – Cedar Storage Balls Adding 100% natural red cedar spheres to a drawer or storage container is another easy solution for moth repelling. Being smooth and round they won’t snag sweaters and they’re easy to toss into any space.

3 – Moth-Away Sachets If cedar is not your thing or you’re not into sprays or wooden balls, these all natural packets might do the trick. The ones linked are formulated with 100% natural ingredients such as peppermint, rosemary, thyme, and cloves. Each packet covers 1 cubic feet of storage and naturally keeps moths away. Another option is a lavender pouch if you’d rather a floral scent than a woodsy one.


Style Bee - Sweater Revelation + Care Tips

So that’s how I care for my knitwear!

A few simple steps = less washing and more winter closet options.


What do you think about some of these ideas? Do you already use some of these tricks? Have any sweater care tips you’d like to share?

LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS!

Don’t miss my pal Caroline Rector’s post on sweater care tips too!


SHOP THIS OUTFIT


  • CHUNKY BRICK TURTLENECK | gifted | BARE KNITWEAR | Made in Peru | On sale for $227 CAD | Made of Alpaca wool that’s super soft and very cozy. | I wear the XS/S
  • AUTHENTIC STRETCH DENIM | gifted | EVERLANE | Made in Vietnam | $78 USD | I wear a 27 Regular
  • COAT | old | Similar options here and here
  • CALLY BOOT | gifted | COCLICO | Made in Spain | On sale currently | Similar option available here for less.


SHOP SWEATERS I LOVE


This post is not sponsored but contains affiliate links. When you shop via the links above I may make commission on a sale. Thanks for supporting Style Bee! All opinions are always my own.

Leave me a comment here!

  1. Zoë says:

    Hi Lee! Do you have some other steamers that you would recommend? I’m from Europe and can’t find the steamer in my area 🙂

    Best wishes

    • Hey Zoë, I’m not sure what brands are available in your area but I usually start with an Amazon search and check out customer reviews, then go from there. Conair, Rowenta and PurSteam are brands that come up a lot. Sorry I can’t be of more help!

  2. Kathleen says:

    Great post! Thanks for sharing! I too hadn’t thought to fold my longer cardigans/coatigans the way you suggested, but it makes perfect sense! After storing your clothes off season with cedar, do you find they come out smelling like cedar? If so, I suppose the freezer trick might be the answer.

    • Thanks for reading Kathleen! Great question. I’ve only ever used a gentle amount of cedar spray and don’t find the scent holds on too much after being in storage. It also goes away once I’ve brought them back out into the open for a bit. If you found it was too much you could definitely use the freezer trick as you mentioned. Hope that helps!

  3. Savannah Grant says:

    Hey! Are velvet hangers ok? Instead of wooden ones?

  4. KEszter says:

    I love these tips – I’ve been wanting to get some cedar balls for a while. Having read this post, I feel less “guilty” now about not having washed my cashmere and wool sweaters throughout the season. Honestly, I didn’t even have to, I only steamed them once or twice and used a fabric comb on them to remove any pillings.
    Also, the amount of laundry has significantly reduced since buying garments made of natural fibers and wearing items more than once before washing them 🙂
    Have a lovely day!

  5. Linda says:

    Really enjoyed all your tips
    I’m going to order some spray & try the freezer tips too!

  6. Caitlin says:

    Wonderful advice, I’m a big fan of not washing things too often and having them last longer 🙂 But just curious – where did you get your wooden hangers from? I’ve been looking for some that are light and nicely sanded because most of the ones I’ve encountered seem like they will shred my clothing?

  7. CaMille says:

    Great tips, I like the one about airing out for a day by turning it inside out!

  8. These are great tips. I use a cedar spray and it really helps, especially if you are a sweaty girl!

    http://www.poutineandprada.com

  9. JaneT says:

    Great tips. I rarely wash my sweaters and I find that they last for years. A trick that I read about years ago to help freshen up sweaters and ward off insects is the freezer method. I put my sweater in a ziploc bag with a lavender sachet and then I put the sweater in the bag in the freezer for about two weeks. I have been doing this with all my sweaters at the end of the season before I store them for the summer.

    • Brenda says:

      I have done this also… in fact, a dry-clean only blouse I wore in Las Vegas came home smelling a little smoky but was otherwise clean, so I put it in a ziplock bag for a couple days and threw it in my deep freeze and it came out smelling fresh as a daisy! This is a method I will try out more for sure!

    • Oh that’s a great trick for travel clothes that don’t need a wash but have brought home some unwelcome scents!

    • Oh my gosh, YES, this is genius! Thanks so my for sharing that tip Janet. I’ve heard of the freezer trick before but completely forgot about it. Such a good idea and more practical than opening a window in the winter! Totally trying this out before I do my winter pack up for spring. Merci beaucoup!

  10. Fiona says:

    Thanks for all these tips. What do you do about fuzzy sweater pillings?

  11. Katy says:

    This is such a welcome post now that my sweaters have been in heavy rotation for months. I’m intrigued by the cedar spray and cedar storage balls. I’d also never thought of “folding” long sweaters across a hanger bar (brilliant!!). Your hacks will keep me feeling grateful for my sweaters even though I’ve been wishing for t-shirt weather. Thanks, Lee!

    • Thanks for reading Katy! So glad to hear the timing was good and tips are helpful. I definitely hear you on being ready to say goodbye to sweaters soon 🙂 ‘Hang’ in there! haha