Is there any way to get around hand washing clothes?
February 26, 2008 8:17 PM   Subscribe

I recently bought a beautiful burgundy sweater coat. Unfortunately, I failed to notice the wash & care instructions, which state "Hand wash cold/separately." How exactly does one go about hand washing a large piece of clothing? The tag says "93% acrylic, 5% polyester, 2% wool." Is there any other way I can get this garment cleaned? Would Woolite be an option? Dry cleaning?
posted by invisible ink to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I "handwash" that stuff on delicate, with Woolite.. works fine.
posted by clh at 8:28 PM on February 26, 2008

I wouldn't worry too much about it; it's not going to felt. Do it in your laundry's gentle cycle, and maybe hang it up or flat-dry if you can; otherwise, dry it on low heat if you can. Basically, you're just trying to reduce pilling.
posted by Madamina at 8:29 PM on February 26, 2008

Does your washer have a handwash or delicate cycle? I would try that cycle with Woolite. That's just me. I'm known to ignore care directions on some garments.

To be on the safe side, wash it in the sink or tub with Woolite and cool water. Let it soak for a little bit, swish it around. Rinse in cool water. Gently squeeze the water out. Be careful not to stretch it. It probably goes without saying, but don't hang it up wet or drape it over a shower rod to drip dry. Lay it on clean white towels, or other towels that won't bleed color and roll the sweater in the towels to absorb more water. Lay flat to dry on clean sheet or towels. You can fluff it in the dryer for a few minutes or so when it is 99 percent dry. Be very careful, I've shrunk acrylic sweaters. You can't leave them in the dryer for long.
posted by LoriFLA at 8:29 PM on February 26, 2008

Nthing delicate cycle with Woolite! :)
posted by iguanapolitico at 8:30 PM on February 26, 2008

f you had a simple cardigan or regular size sweater, I'd tell you to go ahead and wash it in the sink, however I suggest getting this particular garment dry cleaned. The size of a sweater coat is going to make it cumbersome to wash and dry at home. You'd ideally have a big drying rack to support the weight of the sweater. Having the sweater distort or become misshapen is going to be a big risk. Most of all, that burgundy dye has a chance of making a big mess and bleeding all over everything once it gets wet.
posted by pluckysparrow at 8:33 PM on February 26, 2008

The most important thing with acrylics is to avoid high heat, which 'kills' them -- makes them go all soft and misshapen. So, absolutely no to the dryer unless it's got a very low heat setting, and even then, I'd probably want to yank it before it was totally dry.

On the other hand, there's not much reason not to wash acrylics -- on the gentle cycle, but regular soap'll be fine, there shouldn't be a need for woolite.

The other thing to avoid is hanging it while drying. It will stretch and distort. You can get sweater racks that extend over your bathtub. Lay it out as close to the right shape and size as you can and let it dry flat.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:53 PM on February 26, 2008

Washing machine, delicate/knits cycle, cold water and lay flat to dry should be fine for something with that little wool. If you're really concerned about it, hand wash in cold water in the bathtub. For items that large, I have a vinyl tablecloth that I lay on the guest bed or dining room table and dry on top of that so the item has full support. My dryer has a no-heat "fluff" setting that I use to get excess water out of items that need to hang or flat dry. Regular laundry detergent is fine; no fabric softener. You can also put 1/4 cup of white vinegar in the wash water to help prevent dye bleeding if that's a concern although it really shouldn't a problem with an acrylic.

On preview, what jacquilynne said. Dry flat and avoid heat are the most important points. She must be a knitter :)
posted by weebil at 9:05 PM on February 26, 2008

If this is a coat, though, then (imo) there's really not going to be a reason to wash it more than once a season... right?
posted by loiseau at 9:07 PM on February 26, 2008

Nthing the woolite on delicate cycle. It's enough acrylic to wash and not enough wool to worry about it. Absolutely no dryer! The spin cycle should wring it out sufficiently. Lay flat on some towels and don't hang until completely dry.
posted by like_neon at 2:37 AM on February 27, 2008

It's do-able in the bathtub, if you want to go that route. Be careful not to over-soap the water, because you'll be rinsing all of it out again, and that's the really hard work. I once washed a heavy winter wool coat in the bathtub with Woolite and warm water (turns out dry-cleaning won't remove cat pee - yuck). It came out fine.

Oh and I'd suggest you dry it flat, at least at first - I'd be most worried about its own wet weight pulling it out of shape as it dried.
posted by tiny crocodile at 2:47 AM on February 27, 2008

Wash it. Done it many times myself. I wash everything - if you do it gently enough - you can get away with almost every fabric under the sun - including woolens, silks and brocades. I use hair shampoo, coolish/warmish water and absolutely NO WRINGING - dry flat out of the direct sun. You'll be fine. Enjoy your now clean sweater.
posted by watercarrier at 4:40 AM on February 27, 2008

PS - if people knew the chemicals that go into dry cleaning - we'd ALL opt for handwashing, but there are those pesky suits, and fancy dresses that need upkeep. If anyone does do dry cleaning - please air out before use. Google chemicals, dry cleaning and you'll learn something about environmental toxins and the immune system damage they can cause. /end green rant.
posted by watercarrier at 4:44 AM on February 27, 2008

delicate cycle, woolite, etc. You can buy mesh bags at most Target-esque places that are meant to help protect clothes in the wash. Make sure it has a plastic zipper to prevent rust. I usually wash my sweaters this way so they don't get tangled or stretched in the spin cycle. I think i got my bag for $2.
posted by silkygreenbelly at 10:36 AM on February 27, 2008

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