How to wash jumpers: Essential Care Guide

10th September 2018


As the days get colder you’ll be digging out your knitwear to boss autumnal layering and ensure you stay warm and cosy whatever you’re up to.

Of course, as you start to wear your jumpers more regularly, you’ll begin washing them more often too. The last thing you want is to shrink your favourite to the size of your sister’s Barbie or for colours to run, dyeing it a completely different shade.  

Washing knitwear isn’t the same as a t-shirt or even jeans, so read on before simply throwing your jumpers in with the next wash.  


Washing machine close up


How to wash jumpers

The delicate setting on your washing machine or washing by hand in the sink are the best options when it comes to how to wash jumpers. Knitwear is usually delicate and needs extra care, compared to the rest of your wardrobe.


However, first, check the label of each individual item – this will give you all the information you need when it comes to washing them. Don’t just assume, even if it’s a chunky knit it’s likely it may need washing by hand to maintain its shape. Once you’ve taken a peek at what the label recommends the next key consideration is the material.    


Acid Wash Cold Shoulder Jumper
Acid Wash Cold Shoulder Jumper


How to wash wool jumpers

Wool can be washed at 30°C in the machine and preferably on the specific wool setting. A gentle washing detergent – such as non-bio washing tablets – is a good choice to ensure you don’t damage the material.


Wool is cosy, soft and always looks good – perfect for layering up in autumn or keeping snug in winter. It’s likely your wardrobe features at least one or two chunky wool jumpers that you bring out again and again. Here’s how to keep yours looking fresh.


What temperature should you wash wool at?

Always wash wool at 30°C, any higher and you risk shrinking it. Make sure you turn it inside out and if you can, use non-biological washing tablets to avoid damaging the material and creating holes.   


What setting should you wash wool on?

Check your washing machine and if there is a specific wool setting, use that. It’s a good idea to wait until all of your wool knitwear or delicate items need a wash before popping them in the machine.


Pia Nep Cable Cape Sweater
Pia Nep Cable Cape Sweater


How to wash a cashmere jumper

It’s best to wash a cashmere jumper on the delicate setting on your washing machine or hand wash it to be safe.


Any cashmere in your wardrobe is likely to be among your more expensive items and sit with the clothes you save ‘for best.’ Y’know like those family dinners or first dates when paired with a mini skirt.


The label will no doubt say dry clean and if you want to be really careful then it is best to take it to the experts. But, if you wanna save some cash you should also be okay washing your cashmere jumper at home.


What setting should I wash a cashmere jumper on?

If your washing machine has a delicates setting, then use this to wash your cashmere jumper. Avoid using strong smelling softener and detergent to ensure you don’t damage the material. For really delicate items, place these in a net washing bag before soaking – just to be on the safe side.


How to hand wash a cashmere jumper

Some washing machines don’t feature a delicates setting, so for those expensive knitwear pieces it’s safer to hand wash them. Here are some instructions to follow:


  • Fill a clean wash bowl with warm – not hot – water and add a hand washing liquid. You can pick this up from the supermarket – check the label to ensure it’s suitable for use when washing cashmere.
  • Add your jumper and gently move it around the bowl then leave it to sit for 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove the jumper from the bowl and squeeze out any excess water, being careful not to stretch the material. Lay it out flat and then pour out the soapy water to replace with clean, fresh water.
  • Dip the jumper back into the water and gently move around the bowl to remove the hand wash liquid. You’ll need to keep emptying the water and rinsing the jacket until all traces of the washing detergent is gone.
  • You may be tempted to hang the jumper on a clothes hanger but this can ruin the shape of the shoulders while it’s still very wet. Instead, lay it out flat then once it’s mostly dry hang from a washing line upside down to finish.



@schuhhausstratmann styling a Superdry jumper
@schuhhausstratmann styling the Urban Street Sweat Dress


How to wash a cotton jumper

This is the easiest material to wash. Cotton jumpers can be added to your regular wash load and hung out to dry like usual. Cotton materials are less likely to shrink and are easier to remove stains from. It’s still a good idea to avoid putting them in the tumble dryer though – save the dryer for your bedding and towels.


What temperature should you wash a cotton jumper on?

You don’t need to turn it inside out and it can be washed higher than 40°C – although definitely don’t go any higher than 60°C.



Croyde Cable Knit Jumper
Croyde Cable Knit Jumper



How to wash a mohair jumper

This is a very delicate material and so you don’t want to put any mohair knitwear in the washing machine. Instead, use hand wash detergent and wash any jumpers in this material in the sink. It takes a little longer but it’s worth it to preserve the shape and look of your mohair jumper.


How to hand wash mohair

Follow these steps to wash your mohair jumper without snagging or ruining it.


  1. Fill a bowl with tepid water and a little mild washing detergent – even mild hair shampoo can work.
  2. Place your jumper in to soak and gently move in the bowl to remove any dirt.
  3. Rinse in clean, cool water to remove any detergent.
  4. Lay flat in the jumpers original shape. Mohair dries quite quickly so you won’t need to wait long before you can hang it up properly to finish drying.
  5. When the jumper is dry, use a stiff brush to restore the original look of the knitwear. Gently brush downwards to remove any knots or tangles that have been created while washing.  


@alexandra.wlt in the Varsity Graphic Knit Jumper
@alexandra.wlt looks fresh in her knitwear


How often should you wash jumpers?

This depends on a number of factors. If you only have it on for a couple of hours and haven’t spilled anything down it, you can probably get two to five wears out of it. As a rule, you probably shouldn’t wear your jumper more then five times. This number decreases to three for delicate pieces such as cashmere.


Before you put it in the wash, ask:

  • How long you have had it on for? If it’s just a couple of hours, you can definitely get away with another wear.
  • How much have you sweat? If you haven’t got too hot in your jumper or sweat you’ll be fine to wear it again later. A spritz of perfume should sort you out.
  • What type of material is it made from? Some materials cling onto smells more than other – wool or cotton should stay fresher for longer.
  • Is it stained or dirty? If there are no spills or marks on your jumper it can definitely go back in the wardrobe ready for another wear.


Do your bit to save the planet, try to avoid washing your knitwear if you’ve only worn it once and it isn’t dirty.


How to unshrink a jumper

Accidents happen and sometimes you may risk the machine to discover your fave knitwear is now much smaller than when you first bought it. Instead of throwing it in the bin or donating it straight away, you could try unshrinking it first.

  1. While it is still wet, lay it out on a towel on the floor or worktop and starting from the bottom begin stretching the jumper.
  2. Pull gently along the hemline, at the sides and the shoulders to expand the knit and encourage the jumper to stretch out again.
  3. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to get it exactly how it was before but it can save a jumper if you take your time.  

Removing stubborn stains

If you spill pasta sauce or red wine down your jumper you’ll need to deal with it quickly to avoid staining. Leave it at the bottom of the washing basket and you’ll find it harder to remove, if you can at all.


Start by blotting the stain – don’t rub, this will only make it worse. Once you’ve removed all you can this way, use a stain remover – but definitely check that it is safe for the type of knitwear before you do. Leave this to soak for a few minutes and then wash following one of the steps above.

Hang your knitwear out to dry


Woman carrying three knitted jumpers


Avoid the tumble dryer at all costs. It’s tempting to throw your jumpers in there to speed up the drying process – especially when you can’t hang it out. The problem is, they could end up several sizes smaller if you throw them in the dryer. Not only that but running your tumble dryer isn’t cheap for the old electricity bill.

Allow it to air dry and if the weather doesn’t allow for it to go on the line, hang it on a clothes horse inside the house. This may be slightly more effort and take a bit longer but it will save you money and avoid ruining your favourite jumper.

That being said, once your clothes have been through a wash cycle it is worth putting them on a quick spin cycle. This drains any excess water because hanging them out to dry soaking wet can also pull them out of shape. Finally, make sure you hang them upside down – you don’t want peg marks around the neck.


Now you know how to wash knitwear, you can do so safe in the knowledge that you won’t ruin your favourite jumper. Need to refresh your wardrobe? Check out our mens’ jumpers and women’s ranges here on the site.


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