How to Clean and Care for Crochet Blankets & Clothing
Crochet blankets, sweaters, hats, and scarves are homemade treasures that require proper care to make them last for many years. So how do you wash those crochet blankets and other precious items? Regardless of the fiber content, hand-washing is the gentlest way to clean your crochet piece and is preferred to using a washer. Choose a mild detergent (appropriate for the yarn fiber content), and use cold water. If you must use a washing machine, a front-load washer without a center agitator is less likely to stretch your garment or blanket. If the item is crocheted by machine, follow the instructions on the care label.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Washbasin, bathtub, or bucket
- Washing machine (optional)
- Dryer (optional)
- Mild laundry detergent
- Heavy plastic or vinyl tablecloth (optional)
|How to Wash Crochet Blankets and Clothing|
|Cycle Type||Hand-wash (preferred) or machine-wash delicate|
|Drying Cycle Type||Air-dry (preferred) or low dryer heat|
|Special Instructions||Wash alone|
|Iron Settings||Do not iron|
|How Often to Wash||Once each season (three to four months), or when visibly soiled|
How to Hand-Wash Crochet Blankets and Clothing
Wash the Item
Fill a washing vessel with cold water, and add the detergent. Mix well so the detergent is evenly distributed. Gently swish the crochet item in the solution; don't wring or scrub. Gently squeeze the garment to push the soapy water through the fibers.
Rinse the Item
Drain the soapy liquid, and add fresh cold water for rinsing. Repeat this process until the water is clear and free of suds.
Remove Rinse Water
Slowly lift your garment out, and gently squeeze it over the basin to remove excess water. If you're washing something large like a blanket, you can use a sheet as a sling to remove it from the tub. Once most of the dripping has ceased, support the item from underneath, and transfer it to a dry towel (or several towels). Roll it up in the towel, firmly pressing (not wringing) as you go to absorb the liquid.
Lay Flat to Dry
Transfer the item to another dry bath towel on a flat surface that's large enough to hold your piece. Card tables are the perfect size for air-drying sweaters, and they typically have a protective top. Always safeguard wood surfaces with a vinyl tablecloth under the towel.
For substantial pieces like a blanket, spread some heavy plastic over the floor or bed to protect the surface, and then place dry towels over the plastic. Stretch out the piece to begin the drying process. You'll probably need to replace the towels after several hours. Turn the crochet item periodically to allow for even drying.
Reshape the Item
Re-form and adjust the piece until it returns to its original shape; avoid tugging or pulling. For sweaters, gently push the ribbing together at the neckline, wrists, and waist. Next, fasten all buttons, fold the collar, and lay the arms flat to dry.
Dry the Item
Allow the item to dry for 24 hours. If it's still damp, flip the piece over onto a new towel, shape once again, and let it rest for another 24 hours.
How to Machine-Wash Crochet Blankets and Clothing
If you absolutely don't have the space or time to hand wash your crochet, in a pinch, you might be able to clean it in your washer if you stick to some basic tricks.
Put the crotchet item in a large delicates lingerie bag, so it can move freely, yet is protected from tangling. Only use a machine without a central agitator, and always wash on a delicate cycle with cold water. Whenever possible, crochet items should always be air dried—not run through a clothes dryer.
What is Crochet?
Crochet blankets and clothing are made from yarn looped into a cloth pattern using a tool known as a crochet hook. Many types of yarn can be used for crochet work, and the type of yarn will determine its care. If you've done the crochet work yourself, refer to the yarn’s label for care instructions. If you received the crochet item as a gift or purchased it at a craft fair, ask the crafter or seller. Items made from unknown content should be hand-washed in cold water and dried flat.
- Regular wool must be washed by hand in cold water to avoid felting and shrinking. Choose a detergent formula developed for wool or a mild baby shampoo. Specialty detergents containing lanolin, such as Eucalan, help preserve wool fibers and increase the water-resistance of wool.
- Superwash wool can be hand- or machine-washed on a gentle cycle in cold water.
- Cotton, linen, and ramie yarn can be washed in the washing machine on a gentle cycle using either cold or warm water.
- Acrylic and other synthetic yarns can be washed and dried with your regular laundry because they don't shrink. They may, however, stretch with heat, so always choose cold water and low dryer settings.
Treating Stains on Crochet Blankets and Clothing
Most stains can be removed by treating the area with a dab of heavy-duty detergent. Work the detergent into the yarn with your fingers, and allow it to sit for 15 minutes before washing. Consult a stain removal chart for specific instructions on removing rust and more difficult stains.
Crochet Care and Repairs
Crochet items can be challenging to repair. Small holes can be tightened by hand-stitching with matching color yarn or threads. However, if the break is significant, there may be nothing you can do other than purchase a replacement or unravel the project and crochet again.
Storing Crochet Blankets and Clothing
Store crochet items in a cool, dark closet. Don't store in basements and attics due to humidity and fluctuating temperatures. Fold garments and blankets, and stow them in breathable cotton bags or storage bins. Never hang crochet clothing—the weight will stretch out the garment very quickly. Use acid-free archival paper if storing smaller crochet objects.
How Often to Wash Crochet Blankets and Clothing
Many crochet blankets don't need to be laundered frequently—usually, once a season is sufficient—unless you have animals or messy family members. Crochet clothing may not need to be washed after every wearing, especially if it's a sweater or a poncho that's layered with other clothing,
Tips for Washing Crochet Blankets and Clothing
- White cotton and acrylic yarns that have yellowed can be brightened by soaking them in an oxygen bleach solution. Unfortunately, oxygen bleach will not whiten wool fibers.
- Crochet doilies usually need starching to stiffen them after washing. Spray starch lightly on both sides, or follow directions for liquid starch for extra stiffness. Starch while gently pulling your piece into shape, or use rust-proof pins to attach the item to a chunk of Styrofoam, cardboard, or ironing board.
- To determine if your item is made from natural or synthetic fibers, test a strand taken from a hidden area. Light the yarn with a match or flame. Natural fibers smell like burning hair and turn to ash, while synthetic fibers will melt and produce a chemical smell.
- To see if your item is wool, cut a strand from an inconspicuous area, unravel the ends, and then rub them together with a drop of water. Wool will stick together and become felt, but synthetic yarn won't stick.
If I crochet a blanket or garment as a gift, should I wash it before giving it away?
It's a good idea to carefully wash any crochet blanket or garment before giving it away, to ensure it is colorfast and will not leach dye.
Can an item with acrylic yarn be machine-dried?
Acrylic fibers are very prone to melting if heated, so avoid machine-drying items crocheted from acrylic yarn. If there's no option, make sure to choose a low-heat setting.
Should I avoid the spin cycle when washing by machine?
With small, delicate items like doilies made from fine yarns, it is best to stop the machine before the spin cycle, as the force can crease the yarns and make it hard to reshape during drying.