How to Hand Wash a Sweater

How to Hand Wash a Sweater

Think your wool and cashmere sweaters are dry clean only? Think again. We’ll show you how to hand wash your knits—and reduce your environmental impact—in a few simple steps.

Did you know that clothing's greatest environmental impact happens during the care cycle? It's sometimes hard to imagine, but care—washing, drying, ironing and dry cleaning—uses more energy and toxins than raising fiber, spinning, dyeing, manufacturing or transportation. Not only this, but machine washing and drying can damage natural fibers and shorten the life span of your clothes.

There are many ways you can reduce your impact and keep your clothes looking great for years. One simple way is to skip the dry cleaner and wash your sweaters at home.


Read our care labels and you'll find that, in most cases, merino wool, cashmere, alpaca and mohair sweaters can be washed at home with these simple steps.

Step 1:

Fill a basin, sink, bathtub or large container with cold water. Add a mild soap, preferably a nonpetroleum, eco-friendly detergent (we like Tangent's Sugar Cashmere Detergent).

Step 2:

Turn sweater inside out, then immerse in water and swirl gently, taking care to avoid stretching the fabric. Allow sweater to soak in water for up to 10 minutes.

Step 3:

Drain the basin and refill with cold water. Gently swish sweater back and forth in clean water to rinse out the soap. Repeat this step as many times as needed until soap is gone.

Step 4:

Drain the basin and gently press sweater to remove excess water. Do not wring or twist, as the fibers are very delicate when wet.


Beige sweater in basin of soapy water.
A woman's white knit sweater laid flat.


Machine drying can cause wool or cashmere sweaters to shrink or pill. We always recommend air drying, which is gentler on your clothes—and the environment.

Step 1:

Spread sweater on a thick, dry towel. Gently roll the towel the way you would a yoga mat, pressing as you go to remove moisture. Do not twist towel.

Step 2:

Unroll. Lay sweater on a dry towel that’s been placed on a flat, waterproof surface.

Step 3:

Reshape sweater. Spread arms out straight, push ribbing together, align collar and button any buttons. If there is a belt, dry it separately. After 12 to 24 hours (depending on the thickness of knit), turn sweater over and spread out on another dry towel. You won't need to reshape but you can pat and fluff.

Step 4:

Once completely dry, your sweater should be ready to wear. If any wrinkles or folds remain, use a steamer, not an iron, to remove.


We believe the most sustainable clothes are the ones you reach for again and again. Here are a few tips for keeping your sweaters and knits looking great for years to come.

Tip 1:

Use a steamer to refresh your sweater between wears (we recommend Jiffy’s handheld steamer). Follow up with a sweater stone  or pilling brush to gently remove lint and fuzz.

Tip 2:

Fold sweaters to help keep their shape and prevent them from stretching out. Avoid direct sunlight, which can cause fading.

To reshape a stretched-out sweater, dampen the affected areas with warm water and gently massage by hand. Lay it flat on a towel and allow to air dry.

Tip 3:

In the off season, store wool and cashmere sweaters in canvas storage bags, which protect against pests, mold, mildew and discoloration.

Hand using a sweater stone to depill a sweater.

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