A set of folded, hand-knitted items

How to Wash Knitted Clothes in Your Washing Machine

Hand-knitted items can often be treasured articles of clothing or other family heirlooms, which makes washing them with care especially important. You can take easy steps to help ensure knitted items do not lose their shape, shrink, unravel or experience other damage when washing them. Read more to learn how to wash your knitted garments.

Can you put hand-knitted items in the washing machine?

You can typically put some hand-knitted items in the washer, like certain cashmere garments, provided you follow the washing instructions found on your item’s care tag. Hand-knitted items made from synthetic material often fare better in the washing machine than those made from natural fibers. Wash these items in cold water on a delicate wash setting. To help keep them extra safe, place in a mesh laundry bag to reduce friction.

How to machine wash handmade knits

Handmade clothing can usually be washed in your washing machine, but you’ll need to take care to help minimize shrinking or warping. Add your hand-knit items to your washer and add a gentle detergent1. Then select cold water and a delicate wash cycle to allow your item to properly clean. Finish by removing the item and drying.

  • Gentle detergent

  • Washing machine

Clothes in dryer

Step 1: Place Items in the Washer

Place your hand-knit items in your washing machine. It is possible to include other laundry items in the washer; however, do not include heavy items like denim when washing your hand-knit items as the friction between the two materials may cause damage to your knitted clothing. To reduce friction, add a laundry bag.


Step 2: Add Detergent

For hand-knit clothes, you will want to use a gentle detergent to help prevent damage to the delicate fibers. Some machines will require use of a mild HE detergent, a detergent designed to break apart stains and release soils in lower water levels.

Cold and delicate washer cycle

Step 3: Select Washer Cycle

Using the right cycle is an important step in washing your hand-knit items. Select cold water to help avoid color fading in the washer, then choose a setting for handwashing or delicates. When the wash cycle is finished, remove the item for drying.

Air Dry

Step 4: Dry Item

When it comes to drying your hand-knitted clothes, you have a few options. To help minimize shrinkage and warping, flat dry or hang them to dry from a clothesline. When air drying, it is also possible to simply lay the item on a flat surface to avoid warping the clothing.

Can you stretch out knitted clothes that shrink in the wash?

It is possible to unshrink some hand-knitted clothes that have shrunk in the wash, but it requires time and patience. Soak your hand-knitted item in lukewarm water with one-third of a cup of fragrance-free hair conditioner. Let the item sit, then gently squeeze out the water and carefully stretch the fibers to the item’s original shape. Once it has achieved its original size, let the item air dry.

How to hand wash handmade knits

There are some hand-knitted clothes, like those made of wool or other natural fibers, that require hand washing. To hand wash these items, prepare a washing solution by filling a sink with cold water and adding gentle detergent. Submerge your hand-knitted item in the solution and gently soak and agitate. Finish by rinsing out any leftover suds in cold water and flat drying your items.

  • Gentle detergent

  • Cold water

  • Large sink or bucket


Step 1: Fill a Sink or Bucket with Cold Water

Cold water is best for washing hand-knitted items because hot water may damage your items. To preserve your item’s shape, fill your sink (or large bucket) with cold water to begin prepping the washing solution.


Step 2: Add Detergent

For hand-knitted clothes, you will want to use a gentle detergent to avoid damaging the fibers. Additionally, if your item is made from wool, you may need to use a special wool-cleaning detergent (this detergent can also work on other delicate materials like silk). Add a small amount of detergent and mix up thoroughly.

Submerge clothing

Step 3: Submerge Item and Agitate

Once you have created your cleaning solution, submerge and soak gently agitate the item in the soapy water. Avoid being too hard on your clothing as this can cause damage; instead, gently work the cleaning solution into the fibers.


Step 4: Rinse Out Suds

Finish by rinsing your knitwear in cold water to remove any suds. Once you have completely removed any remaining detergent from the knitwear, the item is ready for drying.

Air Dry

Step 5: Dry Item

Take your items from the sink and dry them by laying the item on a flat surface, if air drying.

Can you put knitwear in the dryer?

Knitwear can be placed in the dryer, but you will want to consult care instructions as some items, like wool or silk, are more prone to shrinkage or damage in the dryer. Even using low heat in the dryer can shrink hand-knitted items in the dryer.

Can you dry clean hand-knitted clothes?

In some cases, dry cleaning hand-knitted clothes is preferable to placing them in the dryer. Items like this may have a care tag reading “dry clean only” or are made of natural and/or animal fibers.

Can you air dry hand-knitted clothes?

Air drying is generally a safe option for hand-knitted clothes. By forgoing the dryer, you avoid potential damage to fibers or shrinking your clothing. To air dry, lay the item on a flat surface or use a drying rack, gently reshaping the item if needed. Use a towel to absorb any excess moisture. Make sure to place your hand-knitted clothing out of direct sunlight to help avoid color fading in your item.

Explore Maytag® Washers

When washing multiple kinds of fabrics, you need a washing machine with the laundry settings required to give each item the right cleaning.Take laundry into your own hands with features on Maytag® washing machines that let you decide when and how to wash, such as a deep fill or quick wash cycle on select models.

Get more laundry tips with Maytag

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1. Swash® and the recommending brands are owned and distributed by Whirlpool Corporation.