If you’re working your sweaters all day, every day of the month, there’s no getting around it: they’ll get worn out. And if you’re like most people, sweaters are probably a pricey buy for you, especially if you buy wool blends, cashmere, or designer-inspired cardigans.
So, to make sure you keep getting some use out of your sweaters for years, let’s talk about seven ways you can keep them in shape.
1. Fold instead of hang
If you want your sweaters to stay the same length you bought them, fold and stack them instead of hanging them on a thin hanger. Because if you do the latter, you’ll end up loosening the weave, which will make your sweaters airer and looser.
So, avoid hanging your sweaters — especially thinner ones — if you want them to maintain their shape and last for years.
2. Don’t overcrowd your sweater storage space
While not hanging your sweaters is all well and good, don’t stuff too many in a tight space, either. That means if your storage space is one foot tall and you have eight thick sweaters, store them side by side if you can.
Don’t stuff them all together. That’ll ruin their shape and cause creases you may find hard to get out.
3. Use padded hangers for heavier sweaters
If all your shelves are stuffed with essentials, or you have sweaters that are too big to fold, use padded or sweater-specific hangers. That’s because thicker hangers evenly distribute your sweaters’ weight, reducing the risk of stretching or sagging.
So, if you don’t have enough space, hang your sweaters but spend a few dollars on getting the right hangers because they can make a difference.
4. Remove anything that could snag the fabric
Safety pins, necklaces, brooches (some people do wear them!), hair pins, decorative buttons (especially those with prongs holding gems), and sharp accessories can catch the fibers of your sweaters and unravel them.
And if you don’t notice these tiny holes, they can become a menace you can’t mend. So, take a moment to remove all accessories before putting your sweater back in your closet.5. Follow care instructions
Care instructions are provided by your sweater’s manufacturer on a label inside the sweater. If they aren’t, you’ll find them on the packaging. Following these instructions is crucial to maintain the quality of your sweater over time.
Because let’s be real, your sweater won’t last long if it’s dry-clean-specific and you’re washing it in a commercial machine. So, always take a look at the care instructions and pay special attention to the care requirements, as they can vary from hand washing to temp settings.
6. Gently hand wash or use a delicate cycle when laundering
Too many or too quick spins in the washing machine can stretch, shrink, or damage your sweater’s fibers. And these changes are typically irreversible.
So, if you own a cashmere or delicate sweater — such as one with a bubble or braided pattern — try to hand wash them using cold water and a mild detergent designed for delicate fabrics. This way, you’ll be able to maintain your winter buddies for years.
7. Lay sweaters flat to dry
Sweaters are made from tightly woven thread, but tightly woven doesn’t mean not-prone-to-stretching. So, if you hang your sweaters when freshly washed, the extra weight of the absorbed water will pull the weaves apart, making your sweater longer and misshaped.
To avoid that from happening, you should lay your sweaters flat on a clean towel or a dry rack once you wash them. This will allow them to dry naturally and help them maintain their original shape.