How to Care for Knitwear

Navy blue Joules knitted jumper folded together with green and burgundy knitted jumpers.

At Joules, both men’s knitwear and women’s knitwear have always been a major part of our clothing collection, but we know that looking after your knitted clothes can be challenging.

The more we wear our knits, the more they’ll need a little TLC to ensure they stay the same shape, size and of course, clean. We know that reading a knitwear label can be like deciphering a secret code, so to help you understand everything knitwear related, we’ve put together this helpful guide that features some top tips on wool care, as well as a little bit of knitted history thrown in for good measure.

What Are The Different Types Of Wool?

We’ve all heard of wool, but what you may be surprised to learn is that it comes in many different varieties – the most popular types of wool include cashmere, merino wool and lambswool. Each type of wool has diverse properties that make them the perfect accompaniment for many different occasions.

What is merino wool?

Merino wool is special in that its natural loft traps more heat between the fibres, making it warmer than a synthetic wool but no heavier. Merino wool is also the only wool that comes from the merino sheep.

What is lambswool?

Lambswool can come from any sheep, unlike merino wool. This fine wool variety is incredibly soft and requires minimal processing, meaning it is ideal to be transformed into a variety of snuggly clothing items.

What is cashmere?

Famed for their soft pile, cashmere jumpers have a luxurious and opulent feel that is softer and warmer than traditional sheep wool. The silky fibres don’t have the itchy quality of normal wool, but it still provides exceptional warmth without having to layer up. Cashmere is often described as the most premium of the wools used to make clothing, and it’s easy to see why.

Woman hugging herself while wearing a Joules tan-coloured oversized cardigan over a blue button-down shirt
A man posed on a chair wearing a navy Joules jumper over a collared shirt.

How To Care For Knitwear

How to wash wool

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Our beautiful, knitted clothing coming out of the washing machine three sizes smaller than when it went in. Disaster. Whilst it’s fairly easy to wash wool clothing to ensure it keeps its shape and size, there are a few pitfalls that could spell tragedy for your favourite garment. To avoid a disaster, we’ve provided some of our top tips on how to wash knitwear, but remember, you don’t need to wash your knitwear after every use – only when you really need to.

01. Choose the right setting

Wool clothing is best either hand-washed or on the wool cycle in your washing machine, although it’s important to know that different fibres need a different care routine. If you’re uncertain what temperature to wash wool at, the pre-created wool setting on your washing machine should wash your woollen garment at the correct temperature and spin cycle. If your machine doesn’t have a wool or handwash setting, it’s better to play it safe and handwash your clothes.

02. Wool detergents are worth it 

So, what are the best detergents for wool? When it comes to choosing a detergent for wool, you should try to invest in a special wool wash detergent. These are generally low-alkaline and perfect for cashmere jumpers and other woollen items.

03. Drying wool: Air dry only

If you’re wondering how to dry wool, then we’ve got you covered. Make sure to always air dry and leave garments to dry naturally, without line drying if possible, as this can result in stretching or losing the shape of your knitwear. Using a tumble dryer can potentially cause shrinkage, and that’s the last thing we would want to happen.

How to store knitwear

When storing wool clothing you should re-shape if needed, fold not hang and also know how to stop moths getting to your favourite knitwear (more on that below!).

01. Reshape if required 

After the washing process, lay your garment flat on a clean surface and stretch it gently back into shape. Ensure all buttons are fastened and pull the pockets and the hems straight, always making sure you’re not pulling too harshly. Avoid pegging your knitwear as this will leave unsightly marks, but placing them on a drying rack or radiator is fine.

02. Fold don’t hang

It’s always best to fold your knits so they don’t stretch or drop on the hangers. Clothes hangers can also leave indentations on particularly soft clothing so folding is always the best option if you have the ability and space to do so.

03. Protect from winged wardrobe visitors   

If you have an article of woollen clothing that isn’t worn often, we’d recommend investing in some zip-lock, airtight bags or other clothing storage to protect wool from moths. Yes, the rumour is true, moths love munching on a yummy woollen jumper.

Having gone to the effort of giving your knits the special attention they deserve when washing and drying, it’s worth a little extra TLC when it comes to storage too to keep your wool in tip-top shape.

What if I stain my knitwear?

Don’t panic! We all make little spills here and there, but the key to removing stains from wool clothing for good is to act fast and use the right techniques.

01. Soak it up

As soon as the stain occurs, blot immediately with a cloth or paper towel. Do not rub, as this can make things worse and damage the fibres of the fabric.

02. Use a stain remover

It’s always a good idea to have a number of stain removers ready for any accidents – you’ll want to make sure you’re using the correct one for your particular garment. A gentle remover should be used for wool and delicate fabrics.

03. Wait and wash 

Don’t leave the stain remover on for longer than you need to. Three minutes is usually enough, but always check the label on the bottle to be sure. Don’t panic if the stain isn’t completely gone yet, and again, do not rub. Put the stained garment on a quick wash to wick the dirt away.

How to wash cashmere

When washing cashmere, you should avoid dry cleaning and instead handwash your items and finish by combing the fibres to clear any bobbling. Cashmere is the ultimate in premium raw textiles, so we think it deserves a section all of its own. See our top tips on how to hand wash cashmere below.

01. Avoid dry cleaning

Whilst it may be tempting to pop your expensive cashmere jumper down to the local dry cleaners, we’d recommend not. You’ll definitely come out with a clean garment, but dry cleaning uses harsh chemicals that will, over time, wear down the lovely soft fibres in your clothing.

02. Get hands-on 

Washing cashmere by hand with a wool detergent, light or dark depending on the colour of your clothes, in lukewarm water, is the best way to keep your lovely piece looking its best for years to come. Just remember to reshape it after you’ve finished. Joules Top Tip: You can also try baby shampoo. The gentle formula is ideal for knitted clothing.

03. Bobbles be gone

If you’re wondering how to get bobbles off jumpers, specifically knitted, then you are in the right place. Whether you’ve spotted a few dreaded bobbles on your favourite cashmere garment or are you just in the research phase, worry not. Carefully comb the fibres with a special cashmere comb to clear any unsightly bobbling. The same goes for other wool types too. There you go, you now know how to stop clothes bobbling.

Man wearing white shirt under a Joules grey knitted jumper.
dark-haired women wearing a Joules pink wool jumper.

How to repair Knitwear

The overwhelming sense of frustration when your favourite garment is damaged is something we completely understand. Whether you’ve left the iron on it too long or you’ve caught it on your way out the front door, in that moment, there’s nothing worse.

Thankfully, repairing damaged garments (depending on what the problem is) is easier than you might expect and good for the environment too. We’ve got tips on how to repair a wool jumper, cardigan or any of your favourite knitwear, but if you’re not feeling up to having a go yourself, take a trip down to your local clothing repair store where the experts can look for you.

Pulled thread fix

Sometimes it feels like pulled threads are a natural part of jumper and knitwear ownership. You’ll be pleased to learn then that a snag is relatively simple to fix in just a few easy steps.

01. Gently stretch the material around the snag back into shape – you should see some of the thread disappear back into the garment.

02. Turn the jumper inside out and carefully pull the thread back through. Keep pulling gently and threading the snag with a blunt needle through to the next stitch.

03. Repeat until the snag has completely disappeared.

04. Finally, smooth out your jumper or other garment until it has returned to how you want it to look.

How to repair moth holes

Holes are a little more difficult to repair than snagged threads, so if you’re not confident wielding a needle and thread, then it’s best to leave it to the experts.

01. Freeze it. It’s not as crazy as it sounds, clothes moth larvae are the cause of the holes in your favourite jumper. The simplest way to remove the larvae from your garment is to place it in a sealed plastic bag and leave it in the freezer for a few days.

02. The best way to repair a moth hole is to darn it, to do this you will need scissors, a darning needle, matching wool and a darning mushroom.

03. Turn the garment inside out and place the darning mushroom beneath the moth hole to hold the fabric in place whilst you work.

04. Start stitching horizontally across the hole using the remaining loops as an anchor, make sure not to over-tighten the stitches as this will cause the garment to gather around the hole.

05. Once that is done you will need to place vertical stitches that weave under and over the horizontal stitches. Try to keep these as uniform as possible so that your needlework blends in as much as possible with the existing knit.

Sometimes, those pesky moths love munching on our favourite clothes so much that they create a hole that is too large to darn. If that’s the case, don’t panic! You can always repair the hole with a patch. You can choose from a wide array of patches in different colours and textures. You can even use patches that you simply iron in place!

If you would rather use a traditional patch, simply place the patch over the hole and secure it in place with a needle and thread starting from inside the garment and looping over the edge of the patch to prevent catching.

dark-haired women wearing a grey knitted high-neck jumper.
dark-haired man wearing a brown speckled woollen jumper.

Do you have any trusty knits that you wear time and time again? Let us know below. In the meantime, check out our new knitwear heroes this season.  Crafted for warmth, style and comfort, our latest collection of knitwear is perfect for adding an extra layer to an outfit when it’s needed most. Discover easy-to-wear cardigans that are perfect to pair with denim and dresses to intarsias that are bursting with charm and character.


  • Lisa

    21.01.2021 at 08:33 Reply

    Brilliant and useful article!

  • Trudi Swift

    03.05.2021 at 16:04 Reply

    I never knew baby shampoo would be a great gentle wool detergent!
    Brilliant article – no more trips to the expensive dry cleaners for cashmere jumpers!

  • Wendy Mason

    08.05.2021 at 08:14 Reply

    Excellent & informative. Glad I stumbled up on this.

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