9 ways to preserve and repair your sweaters

July 29, 2015

What could be more comforting on a cold morning than pulling on a warm, toasty sweater? Sweaters need a little TLC to help them last longer.

9 ways to preserve and repair your sweaters

1. Remove pills

  • There are several ways to remove pills and lint from a sweater.
  • Lightly rub a pumice stone over the sweater to pull them off, or use a small pair of scissors or a razor to snip them off.
  • Try wrapping your hand with masking tape or transparent tape with the sticky side out; then blot the sweater with your hand.

2. Tackle snags

  • Stick a needle into the base of the snag.
  • Then thread the needle with the unwanted snag. Pull the needle through the clothing, and the snag is gone.
  • If your sweater is made of wool or cotton yarn, take a crochet hook, poke through the sweater, grab the loose yarn with the hook end, and weave it back into the body of the sweater or through to the inside.

3. Get cotton sweaters back in shape

  • Has your cotton sweater lost its form in the wash? Bring back its original shape. Lay the sweater out on a towel or drying rack.
  • Pull it back into shape, and let it dry in a well-ventilated area, away from sunlight.
  • A cotton sweater will dry quickly if air circulates around it.
  • If you need to dry the sweater a bit faster, you can place it, inside out, in the dryer.
  • Run the dryer on the air-fluff setting for just 15 minutes, and then block the sweater as usual.
  • Never hang a cotton sweater to dry on a hanger, because the weight from the water in the piece will stretch it out as it dries.

4. Allow for shrinkage

  • When purchasing a sweater, check the label to see if there is a note about shrinkage. If so, buy one size larger.
  • Many knitted sweaters will shrink because yarns are stretched out in the knitting process.

5. Repair elbows

  • Elbows of sweaters can be restored several ways.
  • Patch them with an oval of leather or suede to prevent further unravelling. Or reinforce the elbow by finding yarn the same colour as the sweater.
  • Turn the sweater inside out and weave lengths of yarn through the sweater's stitching.

6. Keep wristbands in shape

  • Wristbands of sweaters sometimes get stretched out.
  • To avoid this problem, weave a long length of narrow elastic through the yarn strands of the wristbands on the undersides of the cuffs.
  • You can also get the cuffs wet in hot water, and then dry them with a hair dryer to get them to shrink up.

7. Say no to hang-ups

  • Sweaters will lose their shape if stored on hangers. Instead, fold them and place them in a drawer.
  • If your only choice is to hang a sweater, fold it in half and hang it on a hanger that has cardboard over the crossbar. (Or make your own by splitting a paper towel tube lengthwise and placing it on the hanger.)

8. Iron double-knits

  • Avoid ironing your double-knit sweaters — the heat will make the fabric shiny.
  • If you must iron a double-knit sweater, cover it with a cloth first to protect it from direct heat.

9. Don’t give up on a wool sweater if it has shrunk

  • There's a time-tested way to return it to its proper size: boil it.
  • Put it in a large pot with one part vinegar and two parts water.
  • Boil for 25 minutes.
  • Then take it out of the pot, remove excess water, reshape the sweater, and lay it flat to dry.
  • Don't move it until it is completely dry.
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