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Hand versus Machine Washing - Which is Best for Your Hand Knit?

I hope you are using yarns that are natural fibers, or mostly natural fibers. Why waste time knitting with inferior products? In addition, synthetic yarns are mostly made from oil, and you know we need to conserve oil. Also, sythetic yarns are not biodegradable, so they leave the earth in worse shape for our children. Have I convinced you? No? Then think about these ideas:

I know that many people use synthetics because they think they are the only yarns that can be machine washed. This is incorrect. Cottons and some wools can be machine washed. Additionally, some people use synthetics because they think they or their babies are allergic to wool. This is very rare. More typically people are irritated by harsh wools but can certainly wear soft wools.

A final thought: Remember how the synthetic yarn melted and formed a hard ball when it was lit by a match? Is that the kind of fiber you want to put on your body or your loved one's bodies?

Even though many yarns can be machine washed, you may still prefer to hand wash your knits. Why?

Hand washing is much gentler on the fibers and results in a sweet smelling, soft garment. While there are many machine washable wools, cottons, and blends on the market, be aware that every time you machine wash as opposed to hand washing, you are taking a little life from the garment and increase the risk of pilling and fading. For baby sweaters that will not be worn for many years, this machine washing is not too much of a problem, unless you want to pass the precious sweater on to a brother or sister. For an adult's sweater that you want to last for decades, you might think twice about machine washing.

If you do use the machine, here is some advice:
1) Use only the most delicate, hand wash cycle.
2) Use a very short wash cycle.
3) Do not put the knitwear in with a regular load of wash which may cause too much abrasion. Instead, put an old clean towel in with the sweater.
4) Be VERY CAREFUL about using the dryer. Most knits should be dried flat, not tumbled dry. The risk of shrinkage and bleeding in the dryer are great. If your dryer has a very delicate, handwash cycle, you might try using it for just a few minutes and then let the garment finish drying flat.



Back to Knitting Tips: How to Launder Hand Knits