Laundry: How to fix a shrunken sweater

I think it’s inevitable that eventually a stray wool sweater (which is usually also your favorite one) finds its way into the dryer. Said sweater tumbles out so adorably, three sizes too small, and suitable only for your dog to wear, forever. I enjoy when this happens to my better half (free boyfriend sweaters miniaturized to my size!) but until last week thought it meant forever parting with my own merino jumpers.
Enter hair conditioner.

  1. Fill up a big mixing bowl with lukewarm water, add a couple tablespoons’ worth of conditioner (three if it’s a tighter knit wool), stir it around, turn your sweater inside out, and drop it in.
  2. Swish the sweater around to work the conditioner into the wool, and let the whole thing sit for half an hour.
  3. Then lift the sweater out, and press it against itself (without wringing) so it’s no longer dripping wet.
  4. Gently stretch the sweater horizontally, then vertically, little by little, until it’s resized a tiny bit bigger than your ideal size. Remember to stretch the sleeves, and be careful not to overstretch the collar and waist.
  5. Hang the sweater to dry, or if a very delicate wool, lay it flat. No need to rinse unless you have sensitive skin or the wool feels filmy.

This weekend I saved four sweaters (one was cotton) following this simple little process. I would aim for a conditioner as natural and mild as you can find it to make sure you’re not chemically breaking down the wool fibers.
Update: I greened my beauty routine and no longer use Kiehl’s. My go-to since 2015 is Rahua’s Voluminous Conditioner. Trader Joe’s also makes a great natural conditioner that’s less than $5 a bottle – perfect for sweater saving.



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