Asked on Jul 01, 2016

Hand-knitted afghan needs to be washed

How can I tell what kind of yarn was used? I really don't want to have to hand wash it.
  10 answers
  • Jean Myles Jean Myles on Jul 01, 2016
    Use delicate cycle and cold water.
  • William William on Jul 01, 2016
    Wring out and air dry or it will shrink.
  • Annie Annie on Jul 02, 2016
    I agree with William and Jean. Use Woolite and lay it flat to dry. Of course, a good dry cleaner would take care of it or give you an opinion on the fiber used.
    • Linn Prey Linn Prey on Jul 02, 2016
      Dry cleaning costs mega bucks nowadays!!!! I wash everything I own including 100% cashmere sweaters with no problems!!!!! Cashmere does not shrink either. I just wash on gentle, spin twice and hang up to dry on hangers. No drycleaners for me. I have over 70 cashmeres and wash them!!!!
  • Kathryne Williams Davis Kathryne Williams Davis on Jul 02, 2016
    Thank you all so much. Yes a dry cleaner could do it but the chemicals seem to leave a faint odor behind. I was hoping I could just throw it in the washer and dryer if it was an acrylic yarn. I just had not idea what type material it was maid from. Your solution mixed with mine. I did put it in the washer on the gentle cycle and used cold water. A neighbor still has an old clothes line which I borrowed to let the afghan air dry in the bright sunshine. It is now back beside my favorite chair for the times I want to curl up with a warm computer. Smiles!
  • Cyndi McLain Cyndi McLain on Jul 02, 2016
    If you can find a loose end, touch a lit match to it. If the yarn melts, it's a synthetic yarn and can be machine washed and if it burns, it's wool or cotton and should be hand washed or dry cleaned
  • Linn Prey Linn Prey on Jul 02, 2016
    I machine wash ALL my hand hooked wool rugs. The way to tell what kind of yarn it was used to make it is simple. 100% wool when wet smells like a wet dog!! If a small portion of the afghan is wet with water you can then wring out the water and in about a minute or so you can smell the wet dog....or if it is acrylic you won't smell anything! I use the delicate setting and wash it in cold water. Some handmade rugs I have are 3X5!! and they fit just fine in the washer. Had them for years and wash them about once a month. I keep 2 of these handmade rugs in my kitchen. Both are oriental persian rug designs and wash up just great. I rinse them twice and spin them twice as well to get as much water out of them as possible. I then use my dryer on low setting and a Snuggle paper and put on normal cycle. The rug is usually somewhat dry but a little damp. I then put on another low heat setting to finish the drying of the rug. Have had those 2 rugs for over 10 years now and don't use anything special to wash them with either....I don't bother with Woolite but just use about 1/4 cup of my regular laundry detergent. If the rug is extra dirty (like in winter) I will let the rug soak for about an hour in a tubfull of water and detergent and then continue with the gentle cycle. My rugs look brand new and fluff out just great!!!!
  • Linn Prey Linn Prey on Jul 02, 2016
    I also have hand hooked acrylic rugs and I do the same washing process and drying process to them. They are over 10 years old also. This would definitely work for your afghan. Acrylic yard does not shrink like wool does so you should have no problems in your washer or dryer cleaning this.
  • Kathryne Williams Davis Kathryne Williams Davis on Jul 02, 2016
    Cyndi, Thank you. That's a lesson worth remembering. I think mine must have been cotton since there are multiple pills all over my blue tee shirt. Kathye
  • Wyo5082576 Wyo5082576 on Jul 05, 2016
    Wash in warm to cold water on delicate cycle. When done shake out and put in dryer (not a commercial dryer),on very low temp for 5 to 10 min. Then take it out and lay flat on a bed for over nite ..this blocks it in shape.......Don't stretch it just pull to original shape.....I have crocheted and knitted for 55 years and have not ruined an afghan or blanket,......yet!!!!!
  • Sonja Sonja on Oct 08, 2019

    I know this is really late, but for future reference.

    Wool when burned, smells like burning hair. (Because it is)

    Acrylic, nylon, polyester will melt. Nylon melts faster.

    Cotton smells closer to burning paper.

    Rayon and bamboo smell like wood.

    Eventually, everything pills from use. If it pills quickly, it is probably either acrylic or a combination yarn. (Ever notice a cotton/poly sweatshirt pills the first time you wear it?) Rather than cut yarn ends, burn the pills to find out. I still prefer using an old razor on my fine fabrics. It rarely snags or cuts the yarn. For my cheaper yarns, a battery operated sweater shaver saves time and mess.

    Hand washing queen sized afghans is a lot of work and takes a long time to dry, however it is essential they get fully dried. To reduce the need to wash them, only use them on top of a flat sheet. I don't believe in owning things I can't use though. For a snuggly blanket that can go in the washer and dryer, use inexpensive acrylic yarn, always use hair conditioned as fabric softener, and don't worry about them getting ruined. For your vintage or heirloom items, you can soak them in the washer or 5 gallon bucket. Add cool water and gentle detergent. Swish by hand. They can soak up to a few hours for heavily soiled items. Rinse. Rinse again. Rinse 4 more times. ;) The easiest way to dry, is gentle step on them till you can carry it. Take it outside and spread out on a large canvas tarp. Roll it up squeezing as much water as possible. Spread out to dry. Sunlight is antibacterial and helps dry faster, however it bleaches colors and breaks down fibers. Don't hang them until they are almost dry and then over as many lines as possible. The weight of the water stretches them out and breaks fibers.

    If you are impaired or live in an apartment, it's hard to hand wash, but it doesn't mean you can't. A bathtub makes the best washbin. It holds lots of water, drains well, and is easily accessible. A Clean, never used plumber's plunger works great for agitating gently. A mop or broom has a longer handle. You can roll up your afghan right in the tub. Sqeeze, or press as much water as possible. Letting it drain for a few hours in the tub will make it lighter. Lay on several towels on the floor and change them out when they get wet. A fan will help air circulation. If it doesn't get 95% dry in 24 hrs, put it in a drier on low heat. I can't stress this enough. I've seen mildew eat thru a damp bath towel in under a week. If your afghan smells musty, there is damage being done.

    Eucalyptus will help moth-proof your wollens. A few drops in the final rinse water. It'll smell strongly, but fades as quickly as the water drains. Lavender is good for keeping mice away if you store your afghans and doesn't stain like cedar can. Every fiber can be washed with white vinegar. It cleans body oils very well and can soften the fibers. Use about a cup in the bathtub. Woolite is a godsend for hand washing. It rinses better than any thing else. Felsnaptha works well too. I grate about 1 Tablespoon in to a coffee cup, add boiling water, and stir till dissolved. Use like any detergent. Hang your white items in the sun afterword and it will look like new. If there are stains on your afghans, treat them first. Dawn dish soap will take out almost every food stain. Hydrogen peroxide will remove blood. Remember to not scrub too hard. Let stain removers soak into the fibers.

    The absolute easiest way to clean an afghan that is too delicate for other method is treat it like a carpet. Lay it somewhere it can be left for days. A mattress in a spare room is perfect. Put bathtowels on the surface. Cover in a layer of baking soda. Allow to sit for 24 hrs. Gently shake out side, or carefully vacuum with a piece of panty hose attached over the hose. Then make a spray of 1/4 cup white vinegar in one quart of water. Saturate blanket. Again, allow to sit for 24 hrs. Hang outside in the shade where there is good airflow till fully dry.

    In short, if you don't care about your item lasting forever, throw it in washer and dryer on gentle. If it is special to you, take the time to treat it lovingly. It took grandma 100 hrs to make it just for you. Return the favor by spending a few hours washing it and it will last forever.