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How To: Sweater Laundering at Home

Appalatch sweaters are made in the USA from high quality, natural fibers. For most of the wool, alpaca, cashmere, or wolf hair sweaters that you will encounter in your life, you will find that the care label tells you the following party line “Dry Clean Only”.  Well, you can dry clean all these lovely animal fibers, but the truth is that manufacturers usually tell you this because we are terrified that you will shrink the heck out of your sweaters. We are guilty of this too, my friends, but we also want to tell you that when it comes to washing a sweater, you have options that extend beyond a trip to the dry cleaners. We want you to be able to break free from the chemically laden and fiber damaging process of dry cleaning and keep your beautiful sweaters looking fresh year after year.

Here it goes:

When your sweater gets a spot, you can spot clean with cold water and the tiniest bit of soap. The day will come, however, when your sweater will really need a bath. If you notice any pills on your sweater, you may want to take the time to use a sweater stone or some other pill-removing device before you wash it. Take your beloved sweater to the sink and bring with you some very gentle detergent, like Woolite or our favorite, soap nuts, and two large dry towels (whatever you do, no bleach!!!). Roll up your sleeves and you’re ready!


  1. Fill your sink with cool or cold water. Once it is filled most of the way, add your sweater to the water and let it really soak up some water. You might need to add more water, but don’t swirl or swish your sweater around, just gently agitate it if you need to.
  1. Once wet, add a very small amount of detergent (only a few drops!) and gently work the soap into the sweater with your hands. You can gently agitate and squeeze your sweater but don’t move it around too much. The soapy part is where sweaters felt and shrink! Remember, a little detergent goes a long way.
  1. You’ll see the water get a little dirty and when you’re ready, drain the sink and start to rinse your sweater with the cool water. Rinse it and refill the sink again. Let the sweater float, which helps get the rest of the soap out.
  1. Once rinsed, drain the sink and gently squeeze any excess water out of the sweater. Only squeeze, don’t wring it out by twisting.
  1. Once most of the water is out, transfer your sweater to your first towel and lay it out flat. Roll up the towel with the sweater on it as you might roll up a yoga mat then press down. This will get out a lot of water!
  1. Unroll the first towel and lay the sweater flat on the second towel. Gently reshape the sweater if you need to so that the seams lay straight and the shape is the one you know and love. Let your sweater dry off completely on this towel overnight. You might want to flip it over at some point and move it to a dryer spot on the towel.
  1. If some aspect of your sweater has dried a little wonky, tight, or wrinkly you can use an iron to steam it back into shape or bust out the wrinkle. Don’t apply too much heat to the sweater, but steam is your friend.
That’s it! Your sweater will feel fresh and clean and won’t be tiny or smell like chemicals. This is a great thing to do with all of your favorite sweaters before you put them away for the summer. When you return to them in the fall they are fresh and clean. Keep your sweater stored in a dry place, with the cedar balls we’ve included to help ward off moths.
January 13, 2015 by Mariano deGuzman
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