Men’s Guide to Laundering and Cleaning High-End Sweaters

Men's Guide to Laundering and Cleaning High-End Sweaters

As an adult, one of the things you will pick up over time is your preference for nicer clothes.  With nicer clothes comes the responsibility of being more mindful of how to take care of them.  After all, the more you spend on your clothes, the longer you will want them to last and keep looking good.  A good sweater is one of the first items of higher-end clothing you will probably add to your wardrobe. High-end sweaters are known not only for how they look, such as a good cardigan, or cable-knit pattern, but also for the materials they are made from, such as merino wool, lambswool, cashmere, alpaca, and other natural fibers. Thus, making it harder for cleaning high-end sweaters.

You are no longer dealing with a blend of synthetics and cotton knit fabrics that can handle a week at the bottom of your hamper, which you can just throw into the wash with everything else. Improperly laundering your high-end sweater can damage it, making it uncomfortable, if not impossible to wear.  Here’s a guide to laundering and cleaning your high-end sweater.

Always Read the Tags Before Cleaning High-End Sweaters

Laundering tags are a great place to start when it comes to cleaning your high-end sweaters. Some materials are dry-cleaned only, in which case, you should adhere to those standards or risk ruining your sweater. Even if your laundering tag says you can wash your high-end sweater, you should still proceed with caution. Most sweaters have their care and laundering guides sewn onto a seam at the lower right or left of the bottom of the sweater, near the waist.

How to Wash Your Sweater

Step 1: Turn Your Sweater Inside Out

This will reduce abrasion on the side of the sweater that is seen most often. If you have a special knit, such as cable knit, this is important to preserve the pattern and texture of the garment.

Step 2: Hand Washing and Cleaning High-End Sweaters

Though your washing machine might say “Hand Wash” or “Delicates” it is not a true hand wash. Be prepared to wash your high-end sweater by hand. You can use a clean kitchen or bathroom sink, or a bathtub.  Invest in a tub for this specific purpose if you would like. It is important to note that Hot water will shrink your sweater. Even to comically-sized proportions.

Step 3: Soap and Cold Water

Use only soaps that are gentle enough to wash, such as Woolite or another gentle detergent. Use a small amount, and spot clean by dabbing at any potential stains with a wet washcloth first. Do not rub. Instead, submerge your sweater in the cold water and make sure it is saturated. If you think soap is too harsh for your fabric, you can usually do fine without it.

Step 4: Soak and Squish

You can let it soak for a few minutes in the soapy water. Using your hands, squish the sweater into a ball and open it up again to distribute the soap and cold water throughout the weave of the fabric. This action doesn’t need to be very rigorous.  

Step 5: Rinse

Dump out the wash water and refill with cold, clean water. Repeat the soak and squish to remove the remaining soap. Lastly, dump the rinse water.

Step 6. Drying

It is important to block and dry a high-end sweater to prevent the fibers from shrinking.  Do not wring your sweater, but hold and squish to get out excess water. Next, lay your sweater out on a flat surface with a terrycloth towel or other cloth underneath. Sandwich your sweater with another towel on top and even add weight to “block” the sweater so the fibers don’t shrink. Hanging your sweater on a clothes hanger can stretch out the fibers by the neck and using a rack might cause some irregular shrinking patterns. If the sweater is nearly dry, you can lay it out on a folding clothes rack to finish drying.

Step 7. Ironing

Always refer to the maker’s label on care and cleaning. Some fabrics are not suitable for ironing. More often than not, hanging your sweater will be enough to get out any wrinkles.

Windwashing and Cleaning High-End Sweaters

If you have a sweater such as a cable-knit sweater or other merino wool, llama/alpaca wool, etc. you can prolong the life (and the quality) of your sweater with something called Windwashing. Spot clean any stains by dabbing the area with a damp cloth to remove debris and hang the sweater on an outside clothesline. The motion of the sweater on the line will air out the garment and allow dirt and other debris such as sweat particles to fall through the weave. Fresh air and sunlight will also ionize the fabric, eliminating odors naturally. If you are worried about debris, you can cover it with a light sheet or pillowcase.

Dry Clean Only

Dry cleaning might save you a lot of time and effort when if comes to cleaning a high-end sweater. Even if your sweater allows for washing in water, doesn’t mean this is the best method of cleaning it. Be sure to take note if your sweater specifically forbids dry-cleaning as well. Most concerns about dry-cleaning are the expense and the environmental impact of the process. Use a reputable dry cleaner experienced with these kinds of fabrics.

Cleaning High-End Sweaters Is Worth the Effort

Even though it seems like a lot of work, compared to just throwing a sweater in with the rest of the wash, you’ll notice that your high-end sweater will look great and last longer by taking the extra care to do the job right. A quality piece of clothing is an investment that will serve you for years. Contact us if you would like to learn more about this and other questions you might have about high-end clothing, bespoke wardrobes, or dressing well.

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