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The Shrunken Sweater

The Shrunken Sweater

… Mon pire cauchemar l’hiver

La semaine dernière, mon pull COS préféré a rétréci. Franchement, je ne sais pas ce qui s’est passé. Je l’avais pourtant lavé à froid et laissé sécher à l’air libre. Pourtant, le lendemain matin, il semblait taillé pour une adolescente pré-pubère. Pourquooooooooooi ? Non, mais vraiment, pourquoi ?

J’ai demandé à Gwen et Lindsey, qui ont créé The Laundress, de me donner quelques conseils et astuces de base en matière de lavage (pour éviter, entre autres, de faire rétrécir mes pulls en laine). Je sens que je vais commencer à voir la lessive sous un nouveau jour…

Le lavage. Le lavage à la main est la solution la plus douce. Quand on lave un vêtement pour la première fois, au lieu d’aller au pressing, on peut le laver à la main, c’est tout aussi sûr. On utilise de l’eau froide ou tiède. Pour du coton ou du lin, on peut utiliser de l’eau chaude, plus efficace contre les tâches (mais uniquement avec le coton et le lin).

Le séchage. Nous on est vraiment pour le séchage à l’air libre. À part pour les draps et les serviettes, le séchoir à linge, c’est vraiment ce qu’il y a de pire, ça abîme le tissu et fait vieillir les vêtements prématurément. Quand on met systématiquement tous ses vêtements au sèche-linge, ils prennent tout de suite 10 ans. On conseille de les faire sécher sur un étendoir. Si on n’en a pas ou qu’on est en voyage, on peut faire sécher ses vêtements en les posant sur une serviette sèche, quand l’air n’est pas humide. Dans ce cas, le séchage peut prendre 24 heures, alors n’oubliez pas de retourner les vêtements avant d’aller vous coucher. Et bien sûr, on évite toujours de faire sécher ses vêtements dans une cave humide.

Pour les taches. Ce qui est bien, c’est de traiter les zones de frottement (aisselles, col, poignets) avant le lavage. Sous les bras, on le fait avant chaque lavage. Quand on utilise une toute petite goutte de détachant avant chaque lavage, ça prolonge vraiment la durée de vie du vêtement.

On lit les étiquettes. Les étiquettes ne sont régies par aucune réglementation officielle. En gros, on peut inscrire tout ce qu’on veut sur une étiquette, personne ne viendra vous embêter si vous avez mis n’importe quoi. Nous, on s’intéresse surtout à la composition du vêtement : si on sait en quoi il est fait, on peut le laver en conséquence. En général, on peut suivre les consignes des étiquettes, mais c’est encore mieux de se fier au tissu. En revanche, si l’étiquette stipule « nettoyage à sec uniquement », on suit les instructions.

Tout sur la laine. Il faut vraiment faire très attention avec la laine, et toujours opter pour un lavage à la main ou sur cycle délicat. C’est le mouvement autant que la température qui fait rétrécir la laine. Il faut donc un cycle lent et une eau froide parce qu’avec une eau chaude ou même tiède, c’est le rétrécissement assuré. Il faut aussi utiliser de la lessive spéciale laine (on peut aussi mettre un peu de shampoing bébé sans sulfates).

La laine est une barrière naturelle contre les odeurs, la saleté et le feu. Malgré tout, la zone située sous les aisselles finit toujours par moins bien résister aux odeurs, mais on peut les traiter localement en appliquant un peu de détachant. Surtout, on ne repasse jamais ses vêtements en laine ou en cachemire, ça ne fera qu’abimer et écraser la laine.


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35 comments

Ajouter le votre
  • Lisa F 13 décembre 2013, 12:56 / Répondre

    Hi Alex. Sorry to hear about the sweater, but if it is wool you may be able to resize it back to its original size. Let the sweater soak in tepid water for 30-60 minutes. Don’t swish. Take out of the water, lay flat on a towel and gently roll up the towel with the sweater inside, gently squeezing out water. Unroll. You can put several dry towels on your bed or a portion of rug that you won’t need for walking! From the center, gently pull/coax the sweater into its original size and using sewing or t-pins, pin it to the towels (like a dart in a dart board). Make sure the sweater is firmly stretched with pins around all sides. Then let it dry. If it did stretch a little, but not enough, you can repeat the process until it’s back to its original size. Good luck!

  • Alex 13 décembre 2013, 12:56

    Lisa! Thank you! I’m trying this over the weekend! xo Alex

  • SR 13 décembre 2013, 12:56

    Might go without saying, but when blocking your sweater make sure you use dressmaker-quality pins that won’t rust when wet (especially if it’s the beautiful white sweater pictured above!).

  • M Ruth 13 décembre 2013, 12:56

    A friend of mine tried this technique when she shrunk her favorite wool sweater and it really worked.

  • andreea 13 décembre 2013, 12:56

    my friend wore such a sweater the other day and she made a point of wearing her strawberry blonde hair tucked in. it looked great! :)

    http://littleaesthete.com

  • Jessica Rose 13 décembre 2013, 1:07 / Répondre

    I feel your pain…..sadly I have no great tips to help you on this….;((

    http://vodkaandarose.blogspot.co.uk

  • hadley 13 décembre 2013, 1:49 / Répondre

    As a person who works in the wool and handknit industry: get some gentle soap and re-soak your sweater in warm-ish water. Lay it on a towel and reshape it to the desired size. Lay another towel on top and squeeze out a bit of the moisture. Leave on the floor to dry. It’ll be as good as new.

  • Belen Baquerizo 13 décembre 2013, 2:08 / Répondre

    Great to know!! I have a wool pinkish sweater and its shrinking… now I know why :)
    Xo,
    Belen
    http://www.androbelinsider.blogspot.com new post is up! :)

  • Kate 13 décembre 2013, 2:27 / Répondre

    I have a large collection of sweater, vintage and new, and my COS knit sweater is the ONLY one that has shrunk in a wash. I am noticing a pattern here . . .

  • Ania 13 décembre 2013, 2:56 / Répondre

    some weeks ago i got my first COS sweater (black, 90% merino wool) I wanted to buy one item to check out if I like the brand – hand washed it ONCE, cold water, special wool detergent and I noticed that it is significantly smaller. it is still OK, but im wondering what will happen later. it was 70 euro, so not the cheapest, but on the other hand COS=H&M, so quality expectations should not go too high (that was my guess before buying the sweater to be honest).

  • Aurélie 13 décembre 2013, 4:01 / Répondre

    Thanks a lot Emily for those precious advices. I always finish to destroy a clothe i love because of the washing machine.

    XX Aurélie http://hotelisonfirediary.com

  • Fashion Musings Diary 13 décembre 2013, 4:01 / Répondre

    Un cauchemar qui devient régulièrement réalité en cette saison!

  • Mary 13 décembre 2013, 4:33 / Répondre

    Basically it’s because it’s Cos = H&M = not good quality. Sorry to say, but I’ve had similar experiences. You just can’t get good quality cheap.

  • Dominica 13 décembre 2013, 5:12 / Répondre

    I have to agree with Mary and Ania here. I expercienced several times the same thing. I now check the COS label first and when it says handwash I don’t buy it or if I really really want the piece, I hand it over to my dry cleaners when it needs to be washed.
    A bit expensive but cashmere sweaters just need that extra care.

    I read several similar experciences here ; maybe COS needs to reconsider the quality or combination of materials they use for jumpers/sweaters.

  • Leonie 13 décembre 2013, 8:12 / Répondre

    Great reminder to treat sweaters properly! Would have loved to hear tips on shedding sweaters (angora, mohair, etc) as well. Maybe next time? ;-)

  • Rita 13 décembre 2013, 8:38 / Répondre

    Yet another one who starts to see a pattern here!
    I am actually wearing a sweater from COS that has shrunk circa 2 sizes after the first wash. Very disappointing! Despite the tag saying “Machine wash cold, slow cycle”, as soon as I took it out I noticed it was tiny! Still fits but not in the same relaxed way.
    If someone from COS is reading this thread – please do something about your wool!

    Will try the un-shrinking technique soon :)

    R.

  • Jeremy 13 décembre 2013, 8:46 / Répondre

    Facts:
    French (well, no… Parisian!). Soon to be married 32 yer old fashionisto. Been living for 11 years with an even worse fashionista with whom I have a 3 year old stylish little guy (yeah he’s the cutest!)

    I’m the laundry guy in the house and I have set some rules:
    - eco friendly gentle detergent (except for dark garments for which I use a special kind )
    - no softener. Never. Only white vinegar
    - cold water for everything (except for very dirty/ stained clothes or towels/ sheets…)
    - for cashmere and wool: wool program, cold water, white vinegar
    - for silk: wool program, cold water, white vinegar and absolutely NO tumbling. I lay the piece on a towel, roll it up, squeeze it a bit and then carefully hang it.
    - as for ironing, I steam the delicate pieces putting the iron approximately 1 cm above (sorry but I suck at inches… Should be half an inch though…). Everyone should know that wool (and cashmere IS wool) and silk love water (and steam IS water…! haha)

    So long, it’s always worked and I have never messed anything up. I only use the dryer for towels and sheets (or after an express wash in the morning when we cannot wear anything BUT that piece, ya know…)

    I don’t really agree with the: if they say dry cleaning only, don’t wash it. All high end and luxury brands mention the no washing on their labels to avoid after sales service. I only give the cleaner’s jackets and coats. The rest I take care of.

    As for COS, I must say I have never experienced any lack of quality. We have many of their cashmere, merino, merino/silk and cotton/silk sweaters. To me, COS is strong quality at an OK price. (they REALLY need to lengthen the legs of their men’s pants though! I’m 1m86: 32 long is too short! Just saying…) Buy a € 79,90 cashmere at Zara and experience wasting your money. Don’t even get me started on Zadig et Voltaire!..

    OK… Long comment here but I had to react because, I have to confess, I love to do our laundry: oddly, it calms me down…

  • Lisa 13 décembre 2013, 8:46

    Gotta love a man who knows his laundry! <3

    But I just wanted to comment that I hope you wash your sheets and towels on hot (60 or 90), because it can ruin the washing machine to always wash only cold. I guess for you it should be ok if you usually use gentle detergent and add vinegar, but if you use a normal detergent that contains zeolites, those build up in the machine at low temperatures and will ruin it in the end. It can also get moldy, which will make all your clothes smell damp and sour no matter how nice your detergent smells (although the vinegar helps with that too).

    If you never wash hot, it's good to run the machine empty on maximum temperatures from time to time, and once or twice a year with some citric acid or a good amount of vinegar to clear out build-up.

    Just saying this cause I just moved into a shared apartment where previous tenants always washed cold only. the machine smells HORRIBLE….

  • mina 14 décembre 2013, 2:48 / Répondre

    When you got any clothes with the “dry clean only”, can you wash the piece in a cold/lukewarm water in my bathtub gently ?
    Thanks for sharing your advices

  • Isa 14 décembre 2013, 4:43 / Répondre

    Merci pour ces conseils qui en cette saison sont la bienvenue !
    La parenthèse Enchantée.fr

  • Catherine 14 décembre 2013, 6:14 / Répondre

    The only thing I put in the dryer is towels. Nothing is better than getting in a bed with sheets that have dried in fresh air.
    I hate to hand wash and try to avoid buying items that require it. Or I machine wash them cold, in a tight net bag, so they can’t move too much.
    I wash most clothes in cold water, because they aren’t that dirty–they just need to be freshened after wearing all day (or two). Then they go on the line outisde. Socks and underpants and really dirty stuff get piled up into a load of hot water.

  • Sandrine 14 décembre 2013, 9:38 / Répondre

    I wish I could jump in that sweater right now, it looks so cosy! And I love your tips!

    Sandrine x
    http://www.iamsandrine.com

  • Eva 14 décembre 2013, 9:46 / Répondre

    Il ne faut jamais laver à l’eau froide ! Elle est aussi dangereuse pour la fibre que l’eau chaude et il y a donc tout autant de chance pour que le vêtement rétrécisse. Avec de l’eau tiède, habituellement, il n’y a pas de problème !

  • Luna 14 décembre 2013, 12:56 / Répondre

    I completely disagree with the dry clean only label. I only take things to the dry cleaner if they are difficult to press well myself. Every thing else I do in a wash basin with a gentle detergent and let it soak with very little agitation. Most things aren’t really so dirty, just need to be freshened up. I’ve even done wool mix winter coats in the bath tub. Everything turned out fine. The bigger challenge is pressing the lining properly. It saves a lot of money.

  • Pamela 14 décembre 2013, 12:56

    I’m with you on this one. Here in Germany the dry cleaners have very high environmental standards that they have to conform to and so dry cleaning is o.k. but still leaves chemical residues in the fabrics that some people (me!) can react against. I’d hate to think about what is in the dry cleaning machines in other countries where the regulation is not so strict.
    I’ve hand washed some dry clean only things from good houses — comme des garcons, hermes, poetry — with excellent results. Just make sure the iron is right, not too hot or cold, for the finale.

  • Lily 14 décembre 2013, 4:07 / Répondre

    If the method that Lisa recommended does not work. Here is what you can try. It works amazing so it sounds scary and crazy, but do you have to loose, if the sweater is screwed up anyway…
    You put your sweater in almost boiling water with some vinegar. Let the water cool with the sweater in it.
    Take it out once its cold enough to reach into the water. Roll in a towel, Squeeze it gently.Then stretch it into shape lying flat and let it dry that way. Wash cold afterwards, if you smell any vinegar. The vinegar detangles and loosens the wool. Good luck!

  • Miryem 14 décembre 2013, 6:53 / Répondre

    Hello,
    I have just discovered (thanks to internet!) this way to save shrunked whool :
    - let the item soak all night in cold water + sodium bicarbonate
    - wash in water + soap and rinse
    - Soak 6 hours in cold water + Tartaric acid (5 spoons for one liter). Mix from Time to Time
    - let dry
    I have tried on 3 items and it worked. Good luck :)

  • Bernadette 14 décembre 2013, 10:20 / Répondre

    Hi Alex, I think Lisa’s suggestions are perfect and def your best chance to get the garment back to original shape. Did you contact the manufacturer for some feedback? Obviously this is a quality control problem – yarn insufficiently pre-shrunk/tested before mass production = BAD and manufacturer should def know about it. As long as you are sure you followed the laundry directions on the care label I recommend pursuing a refund (esp. if others have had the same problem). So upsetting and so unfair. A client came to me once in a lather – a $5kUS jacket (I won’t shame the designer, but should def know better) that shrunk after one trip to the cleaners (as suggested on the care label) … iron-on interfacings shrunk (A LOT) and cloth didn’t – not acceptable in any item – esp. one with a price tag like that.
    The advise of The Laundress – all good except I would never recommend hot wash for ANYTHING that is stained regardless of composition. Always best to cold wash a stain and when item is back to normal warm/hot wash by all means. Heat sets stains. If you use a dryer on a stained item – be prepared to have that stain for good. This goes for hand dryers in the Ladies’ too. My advise is always – blot the stain with something white – tissue/table napkin, repeat and LEAVE IT ALONE till you get home. Girls do a lot of damage esp. after a few drinks, soaking the stain with soda water, rubbing at it and hand dryers – all just make things worse. Your dry cleaner has a much better chance of rescuing the item if you leave it alone and get it to him pronto; and if you need to hand wash much better result will be achieved sober and quietly the next afternoon at home after you have killed your hangover.
    Traditionally crepe style fabrics reliably shrink. Original 40s and 70s crepes can shrink unbelievably/terrifying amounts in the wash/cleaners. I have managed to restore some garments back to original size but you need time and patience through both the wet/wash and press/steam stages of the process (start pressing BEFORE the garment is 80% dry with a CLOTH for best results/safety) You will need to be able to hang the garment (door frame) and an iron that produces sufficient vertical and horizontal steam to wrestle that frock back into shape.
    Good luck and patience for a happy outcome. B
    PS If you can’t get yr sweater back to the right shape and you don’t get a refund – give it to charity. Nothing more upsetting than holding to something that you will never be able to wear again = wardrobe move on/optimum/happy functionality.

  • princessglee 15 décembre 2013, 3:38 / Répondre

    Ooooh how disappointing. I’m so sorry about your shrunken sweater. Thanks for the care instructions and the discussion it has started. I’ve worked many years in the apparel manufacturing industry. It has been my experience that care labels are not random instructions. There are many manufacturers who do actual wash tests. To be safe when the label says dry clean, do dry clean. Often times you can wash very mildly with mild soap, mild temperature water, mild squeezing to remove water and dry mildly–no dryer. It is never a good idea to hang sweaters and an even worse idea to hang when they’re wet.

  • Susan 15 décembre 2013, 9:39 / Répondre

    Actually there are regulations regarding clothing tags, but a lot of times things are on there for convenience or so they don’t have to write a longer explanation. Dry clean on the tag doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t hand wash it. Oh, and for drying, I highly recommend a mesh sweater dryer like this:

    http://www.containerstore.com/shop/?productId=10034926

  • anne 15 décembre 2013, 12:58 / Répondre

    I shrunk my beautiful white cashmere beanie two days ago. It was a set with some hand warmers and a long scarf. The hat somehow snuck in with my towels and got washed at 60 C :(

  • Regina 15 décembre 2013, 5:28 / Répondre

    I always put a little hair conditioner in the final rinse when hand washing wool and cashmere. They are all protein fibers, non? I agree with re-blocking to get that sweater to fit. I wash everything except things which are lined. These I dry clean. (Coats, Jackets, Trousers) Dry cleaning is very hard on fibers, but how often do you need to clean a coat?

  • Virginia 17 décembre 2013, 6:22 / Répondre

    Hi, I have been running a italian made cashmere knitwear company for six years and these are the instructions to wash fine wool and cashmere:
    Wash by hand, in lukewarm water (not cold!!!), use a teaspoon of shampoo, move around the sweater in the water without strectching it, be gentle. Then rinse with clear water, at the same temperature (temperature change shrinks wool!!) when there’s no soap left in the wool, dip the sweater in clear water with a spoonful of fabric softener. Rid the sweater of all the water, by twistig it in a towel for example… again be gentle!!! once the sweater is practically dry you can put it in the tumble drier for up to 10 minutes at moderate heat. Let it dry on a flat surface, once dry: iron it (!!) but inside out, the seams will be straighter and your sweater will look like new!!

  • Newborn Fanatic 18 décembre 2013, 3:34 / Répondre

    Oh no!! I’m anxiously awaiting the Cos site to open in 2014 and now I will be insanely careful with their wool sweaters. :O

    http://newbornfanatic.wordpress.com

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