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Clean and Care for Sweaters: 6 Tips to Make Your Favorite Knits Last Forever

Quality knits can last upwards of 10 years. Here's how to show your sweaters the TLC they deserve.

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Put an End to Pills

Use a disposable razor to shave away those pesky fuzzies, recommends Mommy Savers. Lay the garment on a flat surface and razor over the pills using short, quick strokes. For an even simpler fix, use a pair of scissors to snip off the most noticeable pills. With each method, be careful not to cut the fabric itself.

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Patch a Pulled Thread Like a Pro

If a pull has caused the rows around it to bunch, gently stretch the fabric back into shape, advises Real Simple. Next, use a sewing needle to push the snag through to the inside of the sweater. Keep everything in place by tying the leftover thread in a knot (on the inside). If the knit is thick enough, dab the knot with clear nail polish to stop it from coming undone. Never cut a snagged thread; it will turn into an unraveling hole.

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Don’t Hang Your Knits

Hanging a sweater by its shoulders can cause the garment to stretch out and loose shape under its own weight. Ideally, fold your knits and store them in a dresser. If you must use the closet to save space, fold the sweater shoulder-to-shoulder and drape it over the bar of a hanger. That way, the weight is more evenly distributed.

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iStock/Peter Hermus

Master Your Hand-Washing Technique

As with any item you’d like to keep looking great, read your sweater’s care instructions before cleaning. For hand-wash cashmere, try this technique from Real Simple: First, fill a clean sink with slightly warm water (about 85 degrees Fahrenheit) and add a small amount of gentle fine-washables detergent. Baby shampoo is a good choice. Place your sweater into the sink, and swirl it around in a circular motion. Never stretch, pull, or rub the fabric together. Twirl for two to five minutes.

Drain the suds and refill the sink with clean water, keeping the garment in the basin. Avoid allowing the water to beat directly onto the fabric, which could cause it to stretch. When no suds remain, drain the water. Create a loose ball with the wet fabric and press it against the side of the sink to release as much water as possible. Do not wring it out (this could do just as much damage as tossing it in the washing machine).

Place a large towel on a flat surface and lay the garment on top of the towel, smoothing out all of the wrinkles. Starting at the top of the sweater, roll the towel and the garment together, pressing down on the roll to help the towel absorb the water in the sweater. Unroll. Place the sweater on a mesh drying rack away from radiators and direct sunlight until it’s completely dry.

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Never Toss Spare Buttons

Put each sweater’s spare buttons someplace you’ll be able to find them again. One idea we love is this business-card organizer that keeps all of your spare buttons, thread samples, cloth tags, and fabric-care labels in one place. Pick up the organizer from an office-supply store, and slip your spares into the compartments.

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Store Sweaters Safely

Once spring comes around, make sure to pack your sweaters away carefully. First, make sure they are are clean. Even if an item doesn’t look dirty, remnants of food, sweat, and perfume can attract moths. Next, fold each one using white tissue paper (colored paper could stain your clothes). For a full folding tutorial, see here. Store the sweaters away from direct sunlight.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest