Autumn is in full swing, which means pumpkin picking, hot lattes, and sweater weather—but this year, instead of buying new knit sweaters, use these three tips to wash, unshrink, de-pill, and store whatever you already have in your closet so that you can make them last longer. Using what your have is the most sustainable fashion option after all.
Master wash day
Washing your knitwear in cold water by hand is usually the best strategy for improving their longevity, however, according to Erin Gravelle, inventory and studio manager at Fabcycle, a Vancouver organization that upcycles textile waste, some pieces can be washed in a garment bag on a delicate cold cycle. She also suggests adding a small amount of regular detergent or a tablespoon of vinegar to keep the yarn soft. Once dry, fold your sweaters instead of hanging them up so that they maintain their shape.
Hold a stretch
To avoid the disappointment of realizing that your sweaters have shrunk to a child’s size, don’t toss them in the dryer. Heat makes materials lose elasticity and causes shrinkage. If your sweater has already gone through a dryer cycle, remedy it by soaking it in cold water for half an hour and stretching it. “The water makes the yarn thicken, which allows you to stretch it out,” Gravelle explains. Then, lay the sweater out flat and pull the fibers in all directions. This technique works best on synthetic yarns.
Fight the fuzz
Pilling happens most in areas that experience friction, such as the underarms, elbows, and stomach area. Keep an eye out for the earliest signs of pilling, and act quickly. Instead of pulling on the pills, which will create more over time and weaken the fabric, you should clip them with scissors or use a fabric shaver.