Washing sweaters and delicates improperly can cause your clothing to shrink or degrade. That's why this lesson in how to properly wash sweaters and delicates is No. 16 in Martha's list of 20 More Things Everyone Should Know.
1. Before washing a sweater, measure it in four places: across the chest, shoulder to shoulder, across the bottom, and along the outside of each arm. You can also draw corresponding diagrams in a notebook. For more precise shaping, trace the outline of the article on a piece of kraft paper, and use the outline as a reference for reshaping.
2. Immerse sweaters and lingerie in a basin of cool to lukewarm water. Add mild detergent or dishwashing detergent, as well as 1/2 teaspoon of fabric softener. Swish around garments, gently working suds through fabric. Place all garments into a large basin in a sink and rinse with running water until water runs clear. Press gently to remove excess water.
3. Place sweaters and socks on clean, dry, white towels; place lingerie on a rack. Pat the sweater into shape on towel, then roll up sweater and towel together, pressing to remove water. Repeat with a second towel. Lay one sweater on a third towel.
4. Place the mesh drying rack on a table and place other sweater on rack. Check measurements of the sweater using a tape measure and reshape according to the measurements you recorded in your notebook before washing. Be sure to use a surface that can't be damaged by moisture.
5. Periodically turn sweaters over and switch damp towels for dry ones. To remove wrinkles in your sweater after it has dried, use a handheld steamer.