Most wool can be washed in a washing machine, but with my precious hand knits, I prefer to hand wash. But how often? (Brace yourself...)
Taking into account the above facts about wool's anti-bacterial and odour-repelling properties, I wash my hand knits really infrequently. As hand knitted jumpers and cardigans are not worn next to the skin, they really don't require it. However it sounds a little shocking to admit that I realised that I haven't washed one of my cardigans for 2 years. Eek! I know it's that long because I have never washed it since I finished knitting it. But you know what, these garments are not worn every day and due to the above mentioned properties of wool they really don't need to be washed too often.
I haven't been able to find a definitive answer on how often wool should be washed, but I would imagine that you should wash hand knits each season before putting them away when the warmer weather arrives. However in the UK, you need to keep some hand knits out all year since our seasons are not so clearly defined.
Recently I hand washed a couple of items (and blocked a baby cardigan) so thought I'd share what I did - (hey, maybe a bit rich coming from me, Mrs Two-Year-No-Wash?)
Hand Washing Tips
- Invest in some wool wash that doesn't need to rinsed out. This makes things SO much easier as you handle the wet garments less (they're more prone to damage when wet).
- All you do is soak items for 15 minutes then gently squeeze out the water. No rinsing required. I use Soak wool wash but Eucalan is another popular one. It's not cheap but should last for ages. (Just make sure you replace the lid properly after use and don't let your cat knock it over so 2/3rds of a bottle soaks into the carpet....)
- I soak my garments in the bath
- Once soaked and with the excess water gently squeezed out, lay garments out flat on a towel like with blocking.
- Roll lengthways and widthways to squeeze out excess water
- Arrange to dry flat, preferably on a flat surface that allows air to circulate. You'll see that my items aren't perfectly flat but the main thing is to make sure that the weight of the wet garment is evenly distributed so that it's not getting stretched by its own weight. I leave items like this over the bath for a few hours to catch any last drips before I dry them flat on the pulley in the kitchen.
How often do you wash your hand knits, and do you have any helpful tips to pass on?