Laundering Knits
March 5, 2014 11:58 AM   Subscribe

I have just finished knitting a bunch of synthetic yarn scarves and I need to wash them. The difficulty is that our washing machine doesn't have a delicate cycle. It has temperature settings, load size settings, and then two sections - "whites - regular" or "casual - pulsed" - the whites section has 4 settings from heavy to extra light, and the casual section has 3 settings from heavy to light. I'm putting the scarves into individual pillowcases to keep them from getting wrapped up on the agitator post and stretched around. I already know all about how to lay them to dry, just unsure what washer setting to use.
posted by radiopaste to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Cold Water (Wool/casual) and extra light.

Whites are going to be hot and you don't want that on yarn.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:06 PM on March 5, 2014

I think you want the casual-pulsed setting on light...I think that setting will have intermittent agitation only instead of constant agitation, which I think the regular setting will give you. You should use cold water (and your pillowcase idea is great).
posted by schroedingersgirl at 12:07 PM on March 5, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers so far! I set water temperature separately from setting "whites - regular" or "casual - pulsed" - so whatever I use will be cold water (my options are cold/warm/hot).
posted by radiopaste at 12:09 PM on March 5, 2014

Is this acrylic yarn? Acrylic can take quite a bit of heat and agitation, but scarves shouldn't need that anyway, so I'd vote cold/pulsed-light. You can even put acrylic in the dryer on a light heat setting to soften and relax the fibers.'

If it's some other synthetic material I'd check the yarn label if there is one.
posted by muddgirl at 12:12 PM on March 5, 2014 [5 favorites]

They're synthetic? There's no reason to avoid washing synthetic yarn in hot water. You wash wool in cold water because heat, soap, and agitation together cause wool to felt. Synthetics don't have this property; they're meant to be stupid easy to care for. As muddgirl says, you can probably toss them in the dryer too.
posted by clavicle at 12:18 PM on March 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

Alternately, if you're particularly concerned about damaging them (perhaps they're in a very fragile novelty synthetic?), you could hand-wash the scarves in a sink or tub of whatever sort you've got available. No-rinse washes for handmade items are very convenient for this.

Afterward: if it's possible to select the spin cycle on your washer individually, you can put them in the spin cycle only to remove most of the water. If that's not possible, roll them up in towels and squeeze (don't twist) the towels hard. Then lay flat to dry.
posted by asperity at 12:21 PM on March 5, 2014

Confirming that "synthetic yarn is sturdier". If they're 100% wool, or some other animal fiber, then you'd need to worry.

But putting them inside pillowcases isn't a bad idea. You can also try to find one of those mesh zipper-close bags that you wash pantyhose in and use those instead.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:26 PM on March 5, 2014

Response by poster: Last comment and then I'll stop threadsitting - I somehow lost some of the labels. All of them were bought cheaply at big box craft stores, most are one step above "I Love Yarn" and "Red Heart." I'm 99.9% sure they're all synthetic and I'd guess that they're at least 95% acrylic with polyester or some other synthetic in tiny amounts on a couple of the yarns.
posted by radiopaste at 12:29 PM on March 5, 2014

I knit a LOT. I promise you that if you are comfortable with how you've woven in your ends, cool to warm in the wash is fine, cool to warm in the dryer, too, for anything synthetic. They will also soften up considerably! Even if they do have 5-10% wool, eh. They are scarves. If they shrink 5% (worst case scenario, hothot water/hothot dryer) they will still be scarves.

Alternatively, you could knit a quick little 4x4 inch swatch, measure it EXACTLY, wash & dry as you would like to, measure it again. The whole event might take 3 hours, most of which will be sitting around. Then you will know for sure.

Happy knitting!
posted by metasav at 6:52 PM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

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