Can You Machine Wash Yarn? (Read This First)

While you may machine-wash your clothing knitted with yarn, such as crochet blankets, sweaters, etc., you should not machine wash the yarn itself.  

Perhaps, you’ve received a crochet piece as a gift or you bought one from a local second-hand chain store, hand-washing is the best way to get your crochet fabric cleaned. 

Although hand washing is preferred to using a washing machine because it’s the gentlest way, you may also use a washing machine (if you must) if it’s a front-load washing machine without a center agitator.

Either you’re using the hand-washing method or using a front-load washer, always use cold water and mild detergent suitable for yarn fabrics.

This post will guide you through washing your yarn and your hand-knitted fabrics either by hand or with a washer.

Simply follow these tips to properly clean and care for your yarn and knitted garments.

Foremost, before you wash your hand-knitted yarn garments, always read the yarn label. 

Some yarns can really be tricky, so it’s inappropriate to completely rely on the content of your crochet fabric to determine how to care for it.

Although, yarn fabric needs to be hand-washed, ensure you check the yarn label before dipping your fabric in water. 

The label contains the necessary info you need to know about your hand-knitted garment and will help you to determine whether the yarn fabric would be able to stand a soak.

Washing Knitted Yarn Fabrics by Hand

As stated above, this is the best and gentlest way to wash your yarn fabrics. 

Though some people may see this method as intimidating, it’s actually very easy. It takes less time than a washer and doesn’t require any special equipment.

1). Choose The Right Soap

To get started with washing your knitted yarn fabrics by hand, you need to choose the right soap.

Don’t just opt-in for any soap or detergent. Some may be too harsh for your yarn fabrics.

Instead, choose a mild detergent that is suitable for the yarn fiber content – Soak Wash laundry soaps are recommended.

2). Block Your Yarn Fabric After Washing

Blocking yarn fabric isn’t just for new knits. No, it’s a way of reshaping your knitted yarn fabric at any time. 

That means, after you have hand-washed your knitted yarn fabric, chances are that it may look a little bit wrinkled or misshapen. 

What you should do at this point to get your fabric back to its normal condition is to block it again – so simple and easy.

Don’t forget that the best and perfect way to care for your knits is to wash it by hand. 

So, it’s advisable to always choose knitted yarn fabrics that are made with yarns that are not machine-washable.

Washing Knitted Yarn Fabrics with a Washing Machine

The first thing to consider is whether your knitted yarn fabric is made with machine-washable yarns or not. 

Machine-washable yarns, also referred to as superwash yarns, are mostly used for knitting baby clothes and other garments that are meant to be washed more often.

But how do you know if your knitted yarn fabric can be washed in a washing machine?

There is just one way to know this and that is by looking at the yarn label. This will help you to determine whether your hand-knitted garment is machine washable or not.

The yarn label would also inform you whether you can wash your fabric in a regular washer or not.

If the label informs that your fabric is machine washable, that’s fine but that doesn’t mean you should treat your knitted yarn fabric the same way you handle other machine-washable fabrics – you need to handle the yarn fabric with care.

To guide you through washing your knitted yarn fabrics with a washing machine, here’s what you need to consider:

Consider the fabric content and choose either a gentle or regular cycle on your washer.

For fabrics made of cotton, such as coasters, potholders, and other kitchen cloths, choose a regular cycle.

However, for fabrics with lace or your beautiful wool sweater, choose the delicate cycle on your washer.

To ensure that your hand-knitted fabrics are delicately handled in your washer, you may use the mesh lingerie garment bags.

1). Choose The Right Soap

You need to choose a mild detergent as well.

Keep in mind that not just anything mild but mild detergent that will go well with your knitted fabrics. 

There are lots of “mild,” alcohol-free, and friendly detergents out there in most grocery stores, just make the right selection. 

Baby shampoos can also work wonders for your hand-knits – try them.

2). Drying Your Hand-Knitted Fabrics

The next thing to consider after washing your knits with a machine is drying them.

Normally, the yarn label should also inform you if drying the hand-knit in a dryer is fine or not.

However, even if the yarn label informs that it’s ok to use a dryer for your knit, your knit may no longer keep its shape after being dried in the dryer.

So, it’s advisable to dry your knit flat, shaping it as you go. 

But if your knit remains damp after laying it flat for a while, you can toss it on low heat in the dryer to make it dry completely.

Here are some other useful tips for washing your knitted yarn fabric. 

i). Use Sprays To Freshen Up Your Knits Between Washes

Now you know that hand-washing your knits is the best but if you’re so busy and don’t have the time to hand-wash your knits, you can use any spray meant to freshen up knitted fabrics in-between washes.

All you have to do is use the spray on your fabric whenever you want to make your fabric look good or get rid of wrinkles.

A good spray is the Soak Flatter Spray.

ii). Try Washing A Swatch First

Washing a swatch first is a great way to know how your fabric would behave when it’s washed. 

Try washing a swatch and drying it with whatever way or style you want. Did the swatch shrink, did it get fuzzy? 

Whatever happens to the swatch after washing and drying it would likely happen to your knit. And this will make you feel confident about what to do and what to expect.

iii). Store Your Hand-knitted Fabrics Rightly

When it comes to storing off your knits, the number 1 rule is “No hangers.” 

Placing your knit on a hanger will cause it to stretch and the shoulders to droop.

So, avoid hangers as much as possible.

iv). Use Your Instincts

Caring for your hand-knits requires your instincts. You need to use your instincts when deciding whether to hand-wash your knits or use a washing machine. 

If you’re worried that the knit won’t survive a washer, simply use your hand for the washing. Relying on your instinct and common sense shouldn’t fail you.

Washing Your Yarns

But if you have recycled yarns from your old knits and want to wash and straighten them out before reworking them, here is what you should do (these tips will really help if your yarns already have a smoky or musty smell):

Fill your washing bowl with cool to hot water, depending on how dirty your yarn is. Though using cooler water is the best.

Add a little quantity of shampoo, wool wash, or mild liquid detergent to the water in the bowl depending on how large the yarn you want to wash – one tablespoonful is fine for a small batch of yarn. 

To avoid tangling while washing, turn your yarns into hanks. Then add the hanks to the bowl, one at a time. 

Push down the hanks gently so that the soapy water can penetrate it. Do this gently and avoid agitation.

Depending on the size of the bowl, wash about 3 to 4 hanks at a time to avoid overcrowding. 

Leave in the hanks for about an hour to soak. 30mins is ok if you’re just washing to straighten out the yarn.

However, you may have to soak it overnight if your yarns are very dirty or have serious problems.

Discard the soapy water in the bowl, fill with fresh water, and gently rinse the hanks one at a time to remove soapy residue.

Gently squeeze or press each hank to get rid of the water in it, ensuring that you don’t agitate the yarn fibers.

To remove more water, roll up a large bath towel around the hanks and press it gently against the hanks.

After this, hang the hanks on a hanger, a drying rack, or a coat rack to dry them completely and straighten them.

You may add a binder clip to the end of the yarn to weigh it down and aid the straightening.


Simply follow our guide above when you have to wash your knitted yarn fabrics or yarns. 

However, if you still have any questions about washing your yarns in a washer, contact or call us today and we’ll be happy to assist you.