Have you recently purchased a new wool sweater and wonder, how do I clean a wool sweater now? Well, we have your needs covered. In this post, you will know the step by step guide on how to clean a wool sweater properly.

Wool sweaters shrink if not washed appropriately. Moisture, the mechanical action of the washing machine and heat results in the wool fibre shrinking. Thus the edges of the scales interlock which prevents the fibre from returning to its initial position. So how to clean a wool sweater without shrinking it?

Introduction – how to clean a wool sweater

Wool extracted from goats is known as cashmere wool. Woollen fabrics were used in ancient time to provide warmth protection from harsh freezing weathers. Although it is known for its resiliency, it requires care while cleaning or washing these fabrics.

Wool contains lanolin oils which makes it anti-microbial, hence it does not need to be washed regularly.

This way you do not need to clean your wool sweater regularly as long as you air it from time to time. Let’s look at how to clean a wool sweater the right way.

Avoid washing it in the washing machine

how to clean a wool sweater

It is preferable not to clean or wash your wool sweater in the washing machine or give it for dry cleaning. Wool or cashmere sweaters should be hand washed. You can do so without risking any damage or unnecessary changes while washing them in the machine. 

If there are only certain areas dirty, it is better to try spot cleaning than washing the garment completely. Brush off the stained or dirty areas and rinse them in cold water.

Laundry detergents contain enzymes that breakdown biological molecules.

While these enzymes work great to remove stains and dirt off clothes, they damage wool by breaking the molecules in them.

Soak the woollen sweater in cold water

Dissolve a wool hand wash detergent in cold water. While adding hand wash detergent, add moderate amounts since over excess detergent will increase felting.  Now let the wool sweater soak the soap.

While doing this, make sure you are using cold water. Coldwater will minimize the agitation that causes the wool sweater to shrink. Preferable use detergents or cleaners which are designed to clean wool sweaters.

Let the sweater soak in the cold water for 5-10 minutes before we begin cleaning a wool sweater.

Squeeze The Woolen Sweater

Keep moving the wool sweater to absorb the detergent. Try to rub the soiled areas of the woollen sweater gently. Here our goal is to ensure that the woollen sweater absorbs the detergent to make it easy to clean the sweater.

Wool Sweaters tend to lose shape and stretch easily, hence be gentle while you are cleaning them.

Once you have removed the woollen sweater, if the sweater appears clean then you can proceed to the next step.

However, if the woollen sweater still appears dirty or stained, repeat this step.

Rinse the Sweater in Cold Water

Now that you have cleaned the woollen sweater, get rid of the detergent water.

Fill cold water in the basin or bucket where you plan to clean your woollen sweater. Immerse the sweater in water until it is free of detergents or any soap on it.

Once the sweater does not contain any detergents on it, it’s time to dry the woollen sweater.

This step can be crucial as the sweater is fragile at this point.

Remove the moisture of the sweater

Never hang or wring a woollen sweater as this can stretch the sweater. Woollen sweaters easily stretch when they are wet. Simply hold the sweater by the shoulder to drain the excess water from the sweater.

Alternatively, you can place the woollen sweater and roll it like jelly.

Once you have rolled up the sweater like a chocolate swiss roll, continue to gently press the sweater to remove the moisture.

You can repeat this step multiple times depending on how wet the sweater is.

Shape the sweater

how to clean a wool sweater

Now that the sweater is damp, shape the sweater as per your liking by blocking it. By doing this you will ensure the size of the sweater and it will even out the fabric.

This enables the sweater to return to its initial dimensions.

All you need to do here is, place the sweater on a towel. Once you have done this, spread the sweater on the towel. Smooth out the sweater as per your shape and size.

It is advisable not to overdo this as it could affect its natural shape.

Dry the Sweater on a flat surface

how to clean a wool sweater

Now that you have cleaned and shaped your sweater, it is time to dry it. It is recommended to dry a woollen sweater on a flat surface as this will reduce any shrinking or stretching.

Preferable avoid drying it in direct sunshine or heat.

This could take time but it is ideal to increase the wear and tear of the woollen sweater.

Some Handy Tips

how to clean a wool sweater

Use a wool cleaning detergent to clean wool sweaters.

Hanging wool sweaters will distort its shape causing dimples. 

Although wool sweaters can be used for rough wear, however, they need to be washed with care since their natural properties get damaged with moisture.

It is recommended to fold Woolen knitwear while storing them to avoid any stretching of the fibres.

Use a garment steamer instead of an iron to remove the wrinkles. The heat from the iron will distort the natural fibres all the more.

To get an old wool sweater back to life, add olive oil in hot water. Place the wool sweater in this mixture of olive oil and hot water. Let the wool sweater remain submerged in the mixture overnight. Once this is done, dry the wool sweater by the steps mentioned above.


This was a detailed way on how to clean a wool sweater. There are other ways as well which can be used to clean a wool sweater. However, this is the safest way to clean a wool sweater.

If I have missed out on anything let me know in the comment section.

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