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How To Not Shrink Your Wool Sweater

Have you ever pulled a wool sweater from your washer, only to find that it’s three sizes smaller than it should be? Everyone has been there. But not everyone has recovered from a wool-shrinking snafu.

Learning how to unshrink your wool sweater—in addition to how to not shrink your wool sweater in the first place—really isn’t that difficult. Take a look at the following tips.

How to not shrink your wool sweater

Before you even dab a tiny drop of any detergent on a woolen garment, you need to check the care instructions. If there is a tag with directions on how not to shrink your wool sweater, follow these to the letter. If not, you can choose from the three options below.

Dry cleaning: First, the easy—but expensive—way to not shrink wool is to have it professionally cleaned. But that’s not very thrifty, nor does it embrace the DIY spirit.

Handwashing: One of the most cost-efficient means of cleaning wool clothing is to hand-wash it. Here are directions on how not to shrink your wool sweater by going the handwashing route.
  1. Fill a clean sink or basin with cool water and add one teaspoon to one tablespoon of mild, bleach-free detergent. There are special soaps made specifically for washing woolens if you prefer to use those. Agitate the water and the soap to create suds.
  2. Place the sweater in the soapy water and slowly swirl it around for a minute or two. Make sure you don’t twist or bunch your sweater as you swirl.
  3. Remove your wool sweater from the water and gently squeeze it to get out as much water as you can. Don’t wring or twist, though, as you may damage the material.
  4. Empty your sink or basin and refill it with fresh water. Dip your sweater in and out of this water to remove the soap. Then, squeeze the water out just as you did in the step above.
  5. Blot the sweater on a clean, lint-free towel. Do this by setting the clothing on the folded towel and pressing lightly to remove excess water. You can also lay the sweater flat on the towel and gently roll the two into a kind of clothing burrito. When you unroll the towel, you’ll have removed a lot of the water.
  6. Dry your sweater on a fresh towel that’s clean and free of lint. You’ll need to make sure the sweater isn’t in direct sunlight or heat. Additionally, you’ll want to reshape the sweater before leaving it to dry.
Machine washing: If handwashing is a little too intense for you, it is possible to clean your wool sweater in the washing machine. Here again, you’ll want to use a very mild detergent or special wool soap and cool water. In addition, you should invest in a mesh delicate wash bag that’s large enough to hold your sweater. You’ll actually place the sweater in this bag before tossing it into the washer. After the cycle is over, reshape your sweater and lay it flat to dry on a towel that’s out of the way of sun and direct heat.

And that’s how to not shrink your wool sweater. But what happens if it’s already too late for the above steps? Then it sounds like you need to know how to unshrink your wool sweater.

How to unshrink your wool sweater

So you’ve already turned your sweater into a crop top. While that’s currently en vogue, it may not be your style. So here’s how to unshrink your wool sweater in six easy steps.
  1. Fill your sink or a basin with tepid water. To this, you’ll add about 1/3 a cup of baby shampoo or a soap made specifically for cleaning wool.
  2. Soak your sweater in this mixture for about 10 minutes.
  3. Empty your sink or bucket and lightly squeeze your sweater. Don’t twist, bunch or wring it. Also—and this is important—do not rinse the sweater in clean water.
  4. Lay the sweater flat on top of a clean, lint-free towel. Lightly press the sweater into the towel, or roll the towel up with the sweater inside.
  5. Get a clean towel and lay the sweater flat on top of this. While the sweater is still damp, you can gently stretch and reshape the fabric.
  6. Leave your sweater on the towel to dry, making sure it’s not in direct sun or heat.
There you have it. Now you know how to not shrink your wool sweater, as well as how to unshrink your wool sweater if it’s a little too late. But wool isn’t the only fabric that needs special care. Check out these tips on washing delicates to learn how to give your other wardrobe items the TLC they require.