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Hand Washing Techniques for Your Handknits

Let's talk now about how to hand wash a hand knitted garment.

First you need to understand that lukewarm or cool water is your best temperature. Body temperature water, used for both washing and rinsing is definitely best for woolen garments. You must also avoid changes in temperature between the wash water and the rinse water, because that will lead to felting (significant shrinking and blending of stitches). Remember, there is no way to un-felt wool. This technique is good for other fibers, too.

Therefore, prepare a sink full of lukewarm water. Swish some mild soap through the water making a little foam. Dishwashing soap, Ivory Flakes, or gentle face soap are all OK. There is a product called Orvus that is great for wool and really fluffs it up. I would stay away from Woolite because it is actually rather harsh. Another good product is Eucalan, which is a rinse free soap that contains eucalyptus and lavender. It leaves the garment smelling good and avoids rinsing. I also sometimes use a mild shampoo to wash sweaters. After all, if it's good for your hair, it's good for wool which is like hair in composition. It works well for cottons also.

Place your garment in the sink full of soapy water. Gently squeeze the liquid through the garment. Do not agitate, wring, scrub, or twist. Again, all of these actions may lead to felting your garment, which will irrevocably shrink it. Let the knitting sit in the water for several minutes. Gently squeeze the liquid through the garment again. Let the water drain from the sink. Gently squeeze out excess water from the garment without lifting it up. Just squeeze it against the sink. If you are using Eucalan, you're finished now. With other cleaning products, please look at the next step -- Rinsing.

Back to Knitting Tips: How to Launder Hand Knits