Stretchy knits like sportswear, loungewear and sweaters are our beloved choices because of how comfortable and functional they are. They often contain materials like spandex, lycra or elastane, or have special knit structures that allow them to be more flexible.
Because of these special features, it’s important to note a few things when caring and storing your favorite stretchy knits to ensure they last for a long time.
Always read the garment’s care label first before washing! It will give you general directions like whether it’s machine washable or not.
Handwashing is always a great option for stretchy knits, but is often unnecessary (per the care label). If you’re machine washing stretchy knits, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Put your knit in a mesh garment bag. Here’s an eco-friendly option.
- Use a gentle detergent. Do not use detergent that contains chlorine bleach or fabric conditioner because they may damage the structure of the stretchy fabric.
- Use cold or lukewarm water.
- Select the delicate cycle on your washing machine.
Same as washing, you should always read the care label first for drying directions. Hang dry is usually the best option and to be followed if at all possible. A few tips to note when drying:
- You can first roll the garment in a dry towel to remove excess moisture to expedite drying time.
- Use a drying rack where the clothes can lay flat. Do not hang on thin rods to avoid deformation in the drying process.
- Avoid excessive heat and the sun when drying.
Personally, I’ve noticed that some stretchy knits with a tight knit structure can be tumble dried at low heat on a delicate cycle (for example, I’ve dried my Ava Convertible Top this way with no issues so far). However, there’s always a risk of damaging the structure of the knit and is not recommended.
Because of the spandex or the knit structure, hanging stretchy knits like how you would other garments can cause them to overstretch and lose their original shape.
To avoid this you can fold them and store them in drawers, which is completely fine but if you don't have a lot of drawer space and would like to hang your sweaters and knits - that's totally possible! You can follow this method so that they don't stretch out. Sweater dresses like our Rachel Cardigan Dress can also be hung using this method with just one more fold-over of the long hem.
One of great things about stretchy knits is that they don’t tend to wrinkle, so chances are you won’t need to iron them much as long as they are washed/dried/stored properly. If ironing is necessary, use the lowest heat setting on your iron or steamer and do not overly press the garment.