How to make your winter knitwear last

Charli sits on a step wearing blue jumper and knee high boots.

Tis the season for knitwear. Fluffy jumpers, knitted cardigans, and chunky scarfs reign supreme in my wardrobe from October to March. But when you’re trying to reduce your fast fashion intake, how do you keep your winter knitwear last more than a season?

As a previous purveyor of fast fashion, my winter knitwear rarely lasted more than a season. I purchased cheap knits that just didn’t last. And I didn’t really take care of them.

But, my current wardrobe has knitwear items that are over three years old. They look in good enough condition to keep going for a few years longer. Granted, they include some expensive items (a cashmere polo neck that is perfect for layering) but the majority of my knitwear was purchased with a budget strings on the high-street. So, whether you’re wearing the finest alpaca or a poly-blend jumper, follow these tips and tricks for keeping your winter knitwear as fresh as the day you bought it.

Shop Winter Knitwear

Avoid washing too often

One of the biggest causes of wear and tear on any item of clothing is washing. Dry cleaning is full of corrosive chemicals and we all know the spin of a washing machine can take its toll on both natural and synthetic fibres.

The good news is, wool is naturally self cleaning. Spritz it with a little water and leave to air in fresh air and any odours will disappear.

Of course, this only works if your jumper is actually wool. If a jumper is made from a cotton or poly-blend, a spritz of vodka will eliminate any odours.

Charli stands in front of a red brick wall wearing a bright blue knitted jumper.

Hand wash only

When washing really is necessary, hand wash only. And I don’t mean the old fashioned way of washing a jumper in the bath or sink. I use the hand wash/delicates setting on my washing machine. This sets the temperature at 30 degrees and uses a very slow spin. Although, side note, modern washing machines will clean 99% of items on a 30 degree setting. So drop the temperature you’re washing at guys!

I have to admit that I don’t use a washing bag for my delicates (which is sacrilege amongst many circles). But I have been told that these really help prolong the life of your winter woolies. I have it on good authority that these wash bags from John Lewis are great.

Never tumble dry your knitwear! It will only lead to fibre damage and misshapen clothing. I drape my knitwear over the bath to drip dry and, whenever possible, hang it outside in the great British fresh air.

And yes, I follow this routine for poly-blend knits as well as natural fibres – it is just as likely to distort and become damaged as wool or cotton blends.

Fold – don’t hang

Although hanging clothing is more aesthetically pleasing for your wardrobe, you should never hang knitwear – especially when drying.

This is because a hanger (even a padded one) will distort the shape of your woolies, leaving you with sagging, misshapen shoulders. Instead, my jumpers are folded up on the top shelf of my wardrobe – colour coded (of course).

When knitwear is wet, you can also reshape it slightly if it is starting to loosen. This only lasts for a little while though. It is very hard to correct misshapen knitwear and items like this often become my snuggle jumpers. They’re worn in the house only – for nights curled up with a book or a Netflix binge.

Wear base layers

The beauty and cosmetic products that we all use, combined with the natural oils of your skin, can all erode knitwear. Therefore, I always layer a jumper or cardigan with a base layer to protect the fibres. A cotton t-shirt or bamboo vest does wanders for protecting your woolies and doubles up as added insulation on those colder than cold days.

The addition of a base layer also means that your knitwear will stay fresher for longer. This means less washing, less corrosion and greater longevity. It’s a win all around really!

Charli sits on a step wearing blue jumper and knee high boots.

Store away

I always store away the vast majority of my knitwear at the end of winter. A cardigan may last for the summer but a cashmere polo neck and a heavy wooden jumper rarely gets worn after easter. Rather than allow my clothing to gather dust and take up space, I always vacuum pack them away and store safely under my bed.

It sounds obvious but always wash your knitwear before storing it. Any residual oils, deodorants, or perfumes can continue to erode at the material whilst in storage so a pre-store wash is very important.

I always use vacuum packs over storage boxes. This is because they’re air tight and minimise the risk of dust damage whilst in storage. For more delicate items, like my cashmere, I also wrap them in acid free paper to protect the clothing from any exterior elements.

This way, when you come to bring out your winter woolies next October, they’ll be fresh as a daisy and ready to wear.

I hope you find these tips helpful but do let me know if you have your own tricks for making winter knitwear last longer.

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  1. October 24, 2019 / 7:01 am

    I never store knitwear but I really should. Some simple but great tips on here

  2. October 24, 2019 / 8:43 pm

    These tips are very helpful! I store away a lot of mine but am never quite sure if I am storing it correctly.

  3. October 24, 2019 / 9:10 pm

    I always fold my knitwear and don’t wash it too often, these are great tips which i follow too

  4. October 24, 2019 / 11:06 pm

    Fantastic tips on how to make knitwear last. Never knew that wool is naturally self cleaning and the tip about using a spritz of vodka to remove odours on cotton or poly blends is brilliant.

  5. October 25, 2019 / 11:25 am

    I didn’t know wool was self cleaning! How clever is that. Will be following your advice x

  6. October 25, 2019 / 11:33 am

    I have been taking out my winter wools from their protective homes. I tend to have sealed bags to keep moths at bay, and they keep everything nice and fresh too. I’m really trying to only buy good quality natural fibres for my jumpers now. And looking after them is key.

  7. October 25, 2019 / 1:50 pm

    There are such great tips here! I adore your royal blue sweater too! It’s amazing!

  8. October 25, 2019 / 2:05 pm

    Well I learnt something there, I always hang all my knitwear, so I need to rethink. You’re right about too much washing being a problem, I think we wash everything so often nowadays. Mich x

  9. October 25, 2019 / 7:55 pm

    Woweee! My mummy always hangs her jumpers up! Definitely changing this now and she will start folding her Christmas jumpers in preparation!