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How to wash sweaters at home

Sorting your loads and reading the fabric labels to select the correct water temperature and cycle can help you optimally care for your family’s sweaters. Learning how to properly care for your sweaters may also help prevent common issues, such as pilling, shrinking and color fading.

This guide will walk you through ways you can better care for your clothes and offer tips to avoid common issues when washing or drying sweaters.

Clothing being washed in a Whirlpool® washer Clothing being washed in a Whirlpool® washer

Are you supposed to wash sweaters?

Yes, if the sweater's fabric care label calls for it. Properly washing your sweaters as directed can help keep your garments fresh, ready for the next wear and extend their longevity. Otherwise, your clothes may develop hard to remove stains or odors.

How often should sweaters be washed?

How often you wash your sweaters depends on whether or not you wear a shirt underneath your sweater. If you wear an undershirt with your sweater, you can wait to wash your sweater for up to 6 wearings, depending on the soil level. Without an undershirt, you can wait 1-2 wears before you wash.

Can you put knit sweaters in the washing machine?

You can wash knit sweaters in the washing machine as long as it’s instructed by your clothing’s fabric care label. Follow your care label to best treat your clothes. Machine washing sweaters that are labeled as hand wash only can be too harsh for your garment and damage the fabrics.

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How to machine wash sweaters

Learning how to properly wash sweaters that are intended to be cleaned in the washing machine can help keep your garments in good condition. By using the appropriate washer and dryer settings, you can take the guesswork out of laundry day.

Tools & Supplies
  • Washing machine

  • Clothes

  • Laundry basket

  • Laundry detergent

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Step 1: Read your care labels

Care labels can guide your laundry process and help you better care for your clothes. Following your care labels can help prevent common issues in clothing, such as shrinkage or color fading. Some sweaters may need to be hand washed only, while others may call for cold water during wash cycles.


If you need help understanding what the symbols on your care labels actually mean, use this laundry symbol guide to tackle laundry day effectively.

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Step 2: Sort your sweaters

Once you’ve learned how to properly care for each garment, sort your sweaters into laundry baskets according to how they need to be washed. Clothes are commonly sorted by color, fabric type and soil level, as this will determine their wash cycle. Sorting your sweaters can provide the ideal care to each item and prevent damage, such as fabric pilling.

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Step 3: Load your washing machine or hand wash items

Your piles of sorted sweaters will determine your loads. Load your washing machine with each sorted pile, making sure to turn sweaters inside out to help prevent pilling and leaving the piles that instruct you to handwash to the side. Put your load loosely into your washing machine and around your washer’s impeller or agitator, if you have a top load washer. 


Be careful to avoid overfilling your washing machine. Do not pack down loads into your washing machine, as this can impact performance. If need be, separate one large load into two smaller sized loads. This can be beneficial for both your clothes and your washing machine.

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Step 4: Add detergent

Next, add your detergent, being careful to add the recommended amount. Using too much detergent can impact your washing machine's performance and leave residual detergent behind on your clothes. Swash® Laundry Detergent from Whirlpool Corporation comes with a Precision Pour Cap that dispenses detergent for you, so you only pour what your family needs.

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Step 5: Choose your wash cycle

Washing your sweaters on the proper cycle and using the correct water temperature will help keep them soft and bright longer. Most sweaters, such as wool and acrylic knits, will likely call for a cold cycle or a gentle wash cycle to help keep the fabric from becoming damaged.


Use your sweater’s fabric care label to help guide you through this step. If you have multiple sweaters in one load that call for different wash settings, select the most gentle option to be safe.

Dry clothes in a dryer drum Dry clothes in a dryer drum

Can you put sweaters in the dryer?

Whether or not you can dry your sweaters in the dryer depends on your specific garment and its care label instructions. Unless your care label instructs to tumble dry, hang dry your sweaters to prevent damage. Be sure to pay attention to the cycle’s heat level suggested by your care label.

How to dry sweaters

Understanding how to properly dry your family’s sweaters can help prevent shrinkage and other types of damage. Drying your sweaters will vary based on the fabrics your sweaters are made of. Follow the fabric care label on your sweaters to optimally care for each individual clothing item.

Tools & Supplies
  • Dryer

  • Clothes

  • Laundry basket

  • Dryer sheets (optional)

Shirt with arrow towards dryer icon

Step 1: Load your dryer

Begin to load your dryer with your wet sweaters, leaving those that need to be air dried to the side. Be careful to not overfill your dryer drum, as this can prevent your clothes from drying properly. As an optional step, you can place a dryer sheet into the dryer drum to help prevent static and make your clothes feel softer. 


Larger loads may need two sheets. Refer to your dryer sheet packaging to guide how many dryer sheets are suitable for your specific load.

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Step 2: Select your drying cycle

Each sweater is different, made of unique fabrics that call for certain drying cycles. Refer to your sweaters’ fabric care label to find out which drying cycle is safest for your garments. To prevent shrinkage, many sweaters may need to be dried on a gentle cycle and a low heat setting. 


Whirlpool® dryers help your clothes receive an optimal dry every time. With features such as Advanced Moisture Sensing and 4 Drying Cycles on select models, you can choose a cycle and setting to achieve the ideal dryness.

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Step 3: Fold or hang your sweaters

Prevent wrinkling by removing your clothes from the dryer right after your drying cycle is complete. Select Whirlpool® dryers come with a Damp Dry Signal, which allows you to remove your garments before they’re completely dry so you can let them hang dry for the remaining period. This can help reduce shrinkage and provide quality care to gentle items.


Front load Whirlpool® washer and dryer Front load Whirlpool® washer and dryer

Shop Whirlpool® washers & dryers

Whirlpool® washers and dryers are designed to provide you with an array of features that will streamline laundry day. Select Whirlpool® washers come with built in Intuitive Controls that help you get the ideal wash cycle for each load and select Whirlpool brand dryers come with AccuDry™ technology that helps prevent overdrying.

Discover more laundry tips

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