There's nothing worse than finding the perfect cosy winter knit only for it to start pilling or losing shape after just a few weeks of wear. In the interest of shopping sustainably, our knits are something that should and need to last us for years to come. They're not something we can throw away after just a season.
But how do you care for knits to make them stand the test of time? Well, there a few strategic care tips you can use to make sure your clothes are loved and preserved for as long as you want to keep them. We connected with the founders of sustainable wool clothing brand Wolfgang Scout, Carla Woidt and Marianne Horton, who were more than happy to share their best tips. Straight from the experts, here are five tips you can use to preserve your knits.
Always hand wash and spot clean where possible
Since washing is the cause of the greatest environmental impact of clothing, changing your washing habits is good for the Earth and can help your clothes last longer.
"Harsh washing and drying can damage natural fibres and shorten the life span of your clothes," said the Wolfgang Scout team.
"Our number one tip is to skip the dry cleaner and wash your sweaters at home using the instructions below, remembering, wool does not need to be washed that often and can be spot cleaned where needed and simply aired out."
Step 1: Fill a basin, sink, bathtub or large container with cold water. Add a mild soap, preferably a non-petroleum, eco-friendly 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 fibres are very delicate when wet.
To Dry the knit –
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. 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.
Air your knits semi-regularly
Airing out your clothes can prevent mould and that musty smell that comes from clothes being in storage for too long. This is a great solution to washing.
"Your knitwear appreciates a bit of indirect sunlight and fresh air just as much as you do, so pop them outside flat or inside near a window to freshen them up."
"You can also use this to reshape a stretched-out sweater. Just dampen the affected areas with warm water and gently massage by hand. Lay it flat on a towel and let it air dry," said the Wolfgang Scout team.
Steam and depill
Pilling is when your knits develop little balls of fibre of the course of wearing them. This is something that happens to all knits but is more common with synthetic fibres. Removing the pills can keep your knit looking new for longer.
"Use a steamer to refresh your sweater between wears. Follow up with a sweater stone or depiller to gently remove lint and fuzz," they said.
Fold & protect
You probably heard your mum say not to hang your jumpers on a hanger. And this is right. Hanging your knits can put marks in the shoulders and misshape them. Also, folding and storing in bag can prevent moth holes.
"Store knits folded in cotton or canvas storage bags out of direct sunlight, this will protect them against pests, mould, mildew and discolouration . If possible add some lavender, cedar blocks or mist with cedar spray or any other natural repellent, which further protect against pests.
"If you do find that moths have found your knitwear, place the knit piece in a plastic bag, seal it and pop it in the freezer for a few weeks. Then wash and dry it and mend any holes if possible
"If you do find moths, check all of your knits at this point," they said.
Check before storing
Probably the most important thing is to make sure you check your knits for stain or holes before you pack them away in the summer.
"At the end of each season, check your knitwear before storing - spot clean or wash if necessary, mend any holes, replace buttons, etc before storing following the above guidelines. Lavender will ensure your knitwear is protected against moths and other pests.
"That way, when the next cold season comes around, your knits will be ready to go."
Image: Wolfgang Scout