You’ve received a beautiful, hand crocheted throw for your couch – what a gorgeous gift! Maybe it was a homemade sweater, scarf or even a pair of gloves that you received – or even made yourself. It takes a lot of time and effort to make a knitted or crocheted item for yourself or someone else, and when the item is finished, you’ll want to keep it in the best condition possible.
The method you use to clean knitted and crocheted items will depend upon the type of yarn used. If you’ve recently knitted or crocheted the item yourself you can simply refer to the yarn label for laundering instructions. If the item was a gift, and the giver doesn’t tell you how to care for it, you could ruin the item if you aren’t careful.
Most knitted and crocheted items can be hand washed and air dried. Unless you’re told that a handmade item can be placed in the gentle cycle of the washer, don’t try it. And never should these types of items be placed in a dryer. Even if the dryer is only on a low-heat or “tumble only” setting there could be shrinkage or other damage done. The exception to this is acrylic or other synthetic yarns.
Most wool items should only be washed in cold water, by hand. Use a mild detergent or liquid soap to soak the item for a few minutes. If there is a stain place detergent directly on the stain and allow to sit for five minutes before washing. Wash the item, then rinse well, and rinse again. If the item is not rinsed properly it could have a stiff feel to it when dry.
Cotton, linen and ramie yarn types can be washed on a gentle cycle in the washer. Use warm or cold water but air dry. Remove the item from the washer and lay on a dry towel. Turn the item over and over to dry but place it on dry towels as the previous towels become wet. Hold the item as a bundle rather than picking it up by one end. Wet items, when carried by an end, can stretch considerably even if the item is only damp.
Choosing detergents that are especially developed for wool items will help preserve your wool handmade items. If you don’t have special detergents wash these woolen items in baby shampoo. Detergents containing lanolin will increase water resistance and help preserve the garment or other item. For most hand washables you can use ordinary fabric softener in the final rinse water.
Never ring out Afghans, sweaters, knit throws and similar items. Ringing the water out of the garment or other item can cause it to become misshapen. Instead, allow the item to sit in the sink until excessive amounts of water have drained. Gather the item and lay it on a dry towel. Roll the item up in the towel for a couple of minutes, unroll, then place it on another dry towel. Press down on the rolled item so the water will be expelled into the towel. Air dry the item by placing it on dry towels, turning it over, and even changing the towels when necessary. Don’t hang the item over the back of a chair, or in a similar manner, as this will cause stretching.
Sweaters, gloves, scarves and other handmade items, when placed on towels to air dry, should be shaped while drying. Smooth out wrinkles by patting but never by pulling or stretching. Do not iron knitted or crocheted garments, throws or Afghans. Also, fold items you intend to store; never hang them on hangers – even padded hangers. Hanging knitted or crocheted items means stretching will occur over time. Store unused blankets and Afghans in zipper-lock bags to keep dust from collecting.
An individual who has hand knitted or crocheted a gift has invested a lot of time and effort. Handmade items can later become treasured heirlooms especially if they look as new years after being created. Take good care of your knitted or crocheted items by laundering them as gently as possible. If you aren’t sure about the type of yarn used you can also have the items dry cleaned. Treat them right and these treasures will be with you years into the future.