How to Clean and Care for Crochet Blankets and Clothing

A crochet blanket and a ball of yarn

The Spruce / Ana Cadena  

Overview
  • Working Time: 1 hr
  • Total Time: 1 - 2 days
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

Crochet blankets, sweaters, hats, and scarves are homemade treasures that require proper care to make them last for many years. 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.

How Often to Clean Crocheted 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, unless it's frequently worn.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Washbasin, bathtub, or bucket
  • Washing machine (optional)
  • Dryer (optional)

Materials

  • Mild laundry detergent
  • Towels
  • Heavy plastic or vinyl tablecloth (optional)

Instructions

White containers and towels for washing crochet blankets
The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
How to Wash Crochet Blankets and Clothing
Detergent Mild
Water Temperature Cold
Cycle Type Hand-wash (preferred) or machine-wash delicate
Drying Cycle Type Air-dry (preferred) or low heat
Special Instructions Wash alone
Iron Settings Do not iron
  1. 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.

    Someone submerging a crochet blanket into a washing vessel
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena  
  2. 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.

    Water pouring onto a blanket in a basin
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena  
  3. Soak up Remaining 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.

    Someone lifting a blanket out of a tub
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena  
  4. 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. If the blanket is machine washable, it can usually be dried in an automatic dryer on low heat.

    Someone laying a blanket out to dry
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena  
  5. 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.

    Someone holding a crochet blanket
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena  
  6. 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.

    A crochet blanket laying flat to dry
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena  

Common Crochet Yarn Fibers

The type of yarn used to make your crochet garment 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 the 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. 

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.

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 to purchase a replacement or unravel the project and crochet again.

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.

Tips for Washing Crochet Blankets and Clothing

  • White cotton and acrylic yarns that have yellowed can be brightened by soaking 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 smell like chemicals and melt.
  • 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.