As the weather turns colder, you’ve probably switched your wardrobe to include warmer clothing. But many of us are unfamiliar with the best ways to wash staple items as scarves, hats, or gloves. Here are 8 tips for washing these harder-to-wash items to get the best results.
Wash-Warm-Winter-Items. You have probably seen a TV show episode where someone—a child, a well-meaning husband, a teenager learning to help around the house— accidentally shrinks a sweater by putting it in a hot wash cycle. This is one of the few occasions where television is truthful: wool of any kind will shrink if washed in hot water. You should always wash wool sweaters in cold water. For thinner sweaters, it can be helpful to place them in a washing bag to help ensure they are not stretched out or damaged.
Air dry wool. Always air dry wool sweaters rather than put them in a dryer. If your sweater’s tag says that it can be dried on low heat, it is still safest to air dry it or turn off the heat in your dryer.
Be gentle with scarves. Although it is best to hand wash scarves, you can wash cotton or polyester scarves using your washing machine’s delicate or gentle setting. Use cold water and use a gentle detergent made specifically for hand-washing clothes. (You can also use shampoo as a substitute.) To ensure your scarves are not damaged by the machine’s agitation, it is safest for you to place them in a mesh bag first. Check the label to determine whether you can machine dry your scarf.
Plan to hand wash knit caps unless the label says otherwise. The care required for knit caps varies greatly depending on the type of yarn used to create it. Always check the label first for specific care instructions and to find out what type of material it is. You can machine wash knit caps with yarn made of cotton, linen, ramie, and superwash wool in cold water. However, ordinary wool should be hand washed. If you are unsure what type of yarn was used to make the cap, it is best to hand wash it.
Air-dry hats flat. When drying knit hats, it is best to avoid hanging them from a line or hanger. This can cause them to lose their shape. Instead, dry each one flat: after the first side has dried, turn it over so the other will dry also. For good measure, you can turn hats inside out after this to ensure they dry completely.
Cold wash thermal underwear and shirts. Providing unparalleled comfort and warmth during colder months, thermals should be washed every 3-5 days. Although hand washing them will make them last longer, you can machine wash them to get them back in action more quickly. Wash cotton and synthetic materials such as polyester in cold water. They can be tossed in the dryer on low heat as well. Woolen thermals can also be machine washed cold, but they should always be air dried rather than exposed to the heat of a dryer. If you must machine dry them, use a setting with no heat.