When talking about ethical and sustainable fashion, it’s important to talk about how to care for your clothes. One of the tenets of sustainable fashion is getting the most wear out of your existing clothes so they don’t need to be replaced. That can only be achieved through proper care.
Sweaters are a piece of clothing that I believe has the potential to last a really really long time with proper care. Sweaters can also be quite pricey so if you are going to invest in a sweater, it’s important that it holds up well. Even if you only buy cheap, fast fashion sweaters I believe you can make them last a long time just buy following the tips I share below! I actually pride myself of taking really good care of my clothes which is why they last so long and stay in great condition. It does take a little extra TLC but it’s worth it in the end!
How to Care for Your Sweaters
Don’t Overwash Your Sweaters
I believe the less you can wash an item of clothing, the longer it will hold up over time. This is definitely true of sweaters and jeans. You only need to wash a sweater every 3-4 wears. Of course, use your common sense. If your sweater has obvious dirt on it, or you’ve been in a smoky environment, or you’ve been sweating a lot, you’ll probably need to wash it. I’ll usually wear an undershirt under my sweaters (especially when it’s cold) so that I can just wash my undershirt without having to wash the sweater.
Hand Wash Your Sweaters
I know this is not what you want to hear but you need to hand wash (or dry clean) your sweaters. I swear by hand washing my clothes. I hand wash ALL of my clothes in a bucket in my bathtub. Fill your bucket with cool water, add a little bit of gentle detergent, and let soak for 30 minutes. Gently squeeze out excess water (don’t wring your sweaters!) and then lay the sweater on a towel and roll it up like a sleeping bag to soak up the extra water. Lay your sweater flat to dry on a drying rack.
Ok, I KNOW that sounds like a lot of work – which is why I avoid washing my sweaters until I have to. But if I can manage to hand wash all of my clothes as a mom with two young kids, I feel like anyone can do it.
Your sweater will end up looking like new if you just remove the pills! I’d recommend using a pill comb but I’ve heard a razor works well too (although, I don’t trust myself with a blade…haha). Pilling usually happens when short or broken fibers become tangled on the surface – usually due to rubbing and friction during wear.
To help reduce pilling, avoid sweaters with several blended fibers. Blended fabrics usually contain a mix of long and short fibers which means the short fibers end up getting tangled on the longer fibers which leads to pilling. Tighter woven fabrics will also pill less than looser knits. I also like to avoid synthetic knits like polyester and acrylic because I personally feel like those fabrics pill more.
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Store Sweaters the Right Way
Avoid hanging your sweaters (especially the bulky, heavy ones) because that causes them to stretch and also creates indents in the shoulders of the sweaters from the hangers. Just fold or roll your sweaters and store in a drawer or shelf! I like storing them on a shelf so I can see them.
When you need to store sweaters with the changing of the seasons make sure to clean them, fold them, and store them in breathable storage bags. Otherwise, you risk sealing in moisture which can cause mildew and discoloration. Also, throw in a lavender satchel or cedar to keep the bugs away!
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By following these tips you’ll be surprised at how long your sweaters stay like new!