Drying Sweaters

Dear Home-Ec 101,

I love, love, love my sweaters!  I anxiously await the autumn weather so I can wear them again.
When I dry them in the dryer (even without heat) they get beat up and often the seam (especially where a turtle-neck is attached) will begin to unravel and fray.  I have attempted hanging the sweaters but the resulting unsightly pucker marks are unacceptable and the sweater will often fall hopelessly out of shape.  (Not unlike the rest of us as we age! )

Of course, I know to lay them flat to dry.  However, I live in a highly humid area and laying them flat to dry not only requires space I just don’t have but my sweaters will literally begin to mildew/sour.  I can dry them with a fan, etc. but I seriously can only make room to lay out one or two sweaters at a time when I have many more.
So…..now that I have drawn out the whole story…..do you have any suggestions?

Signed,
Damp in Durant

Heather says:

Washing sweaters is such a treat, no? Since they have to be treated gently and washed on the delicate or hand washing cycle not all of the water is extracted during the spin process. When you place the sweater on a flat surface to dry, the water that would drip away pools under the sweater, only to be wicked back up into the material. This fun little cycle, especially in humid climates, creates the perfect condition for mildew growth. The only thing more fun than removing mildew from regular laundry is trying to get mildew out of your delicate laundry.

A folding drying rack is one possibility, typically they fold up small enough to slide between your washer and and dryer or one of the appliances and a wall. There are also hanging versions that can be stored in a closet. I’m not saying run out and buy one, just tossing it out as an option for sweater lovers like yourself. If you do opt for a rack, choose one with screens or heavier sweaters may sag between the rungs, distorting the garment’s shape.

My simple solution for quickly drying sweaters is to lay them flat on an absorbent bath towel.

The towel wicks up a lot of the moisture preventing the sweater from sitting in a pool of water.  And yes, when you live in a humid area running  a fan in the room significantly cuts the drying time. If the sweater is especially thick or heavy, I often swap out the towel with a fresh one partway through the drying process.

You’ll find that drying your sweaters flat will also help them keep their shape.

Since the towels have only touched clean laundry I hang them for later use, rather than tossing them into the hamper and adding to this household’s laundry -with 6 people, we don’t need any. more. laundry.

Submit your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

 

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Comments

  1. bookchick says

    I have two drying racks that are flat and have mesh screens. They also have legs so they are raised up slightly so the mositure doesn’t pool under the garment. they also stack so I can dry two sweaters at once. I find they work better than a folding ones because those tend to leave crease lines on the sweater. I beleive I got them at Bed & Bath.

    As far as storage, I just leave them on top of my dryer and then they are ready to use when needed. I live in Houston which is about as humid a climate as you can get and these racks work. My washer & dryer are in the garage so I usually put the racks in my guest room bathtub when in use since the garage is more humid. It still has not gotten cold enough for sweaters here – I think I wore a fleece one day when I walked the dog at 5 AM but that’s it.

  2. Roxie700 says

    I use a baby gate. I take the gate and lay it across the bathtub in the guest bath room. I can get 2 sweaters on it at one time to dry. Any water falls into the tub. It does dry pretty quicky even in our humid climate. My bathroom has no window either.

    • HeatherSolos says

      @Roxie700 I love the baby gate idea. Now I wish I hadn’t gotten rid of ours with such hasty glee the day we were certain the stairs were no longer certain death. (I hated that baby gate so much)

  3. Milehimama says

    Not really a sweater drying tip, but if you wear a t-shirt or turtleneck under a sweater (something with sleeves) you don’t have to wash the sweater every time you wear it. You can hand wash small spots or stains in the sink.

    I don’t have much room to lay out clothes in my laundry room, so I just hang sweaters upside down on pants hangers- clipping the bottom hem of the sweater.

  4. KeterMagick says

    I have the same drying rack as Milehimama and I got it from Big Lots for about $7 a couple of years back. It works well on dry days, but I’ve run into the same problems with souring on humid days, even when drying on a towel. I’ve had some luck with drying on a line in the back yard (my snooty neighbors “love” me and I have to giggle) by placing the sweater lengthwise on the line (collar on one end, tail on the other, pinning along the length. If the sleeves look or feel like they’re stretching, I pin them to the line above the collar. A few of my sweaters shrink in length, and these I hang upside down from the hem, pinning the sleeves to the sides, so that they will stretch back out to the preferred length.

    My favorite way to dry most of my sweaters, however, is in the dryer. I have a bunch of zippered nylon mesh bags in different sizes that I’ve collected over the years, and I put the sweater into a bag such that it has a little room to move around, but isn’t so loose that it is likely to ball up on one end. If the sweater has embroidery or beads that might come loose, I turn the sweater inside out before bagging it. The sweater then gets washed and dried in the same bag. It works well for all of my sweaters, and I have everything from silk blends to cheapo acrylic to heavy cotton.

    D in D, I wonder about your turtleneck collars coming undone: I haven’t bought a new turtleneck in years because they tend to last a really long time. Are you maybe clipping tags too closely and nicking the overlock? Or tugging on the collar because it’s too tight and breaking the threads? I would also suspect the quality of the garments – it’s worth paying a little more for a garment that will be worn very often. LLBean sells some turtlenecks that literally last a decade or longer…my oldest is 15 years old and still has lots of life left in it. Look for long-staple 100% cotton.

  5. deneicer1 says

    Thanks to everyone! I really do have a lot of sweaters. I just pulled them all together to wash…and the final count for today is: 17. That doesn’t include sweatshirts…I toss them in the dryer. I have tried mesh bags in the past and I usually get a large ball at the bottom of the bag. I may try smaller bags. Thanks again, I knew everyone together would have something good I hadn’t thought of yet! :)

  6. maryqcontrarie says

    I recently bought one of those extra large chamois towels like swimmers use. I now roll my sweaters up in it before I drape it over my clothes drying rack. I have found that rolling the sweater gets out enough water to make it dry enough that they do not stretch to much between the bars and best thing is they now dry in a very reasonable time.

  7. tnjmom1 says

    I also have limited space to dry sweaters. When the drying rack is full, I do the following:

    1. Wrap the sweater in a towel. Roll it up and press so that the towel absorbs as much water as possible. Unroll the towel. I may repeat this process with a new dry towel if I believe the sweater could release more water.

    2. Take a large clothes hanger and clothes pins. Hang the sweater upside down from the clothes hanger . I use as many clothes pins as I need so that the garment hangs straight down with no sagging from the hanger. I pin up the sweater arms to the clothes hanger – usually to the arms of the hanger, not the bar that goes across. If the sweater stretches, it is pinned so that it stretches evenly.

    3. Depending on the humidity level, I may aim a fan directly at the sweater to help it dry quickly. I will also check on it every hour or so and turn the sweater, sometimes re-hanging it inside out until I am sure it is dry.

    Good luck with your sweaters.