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How to clean an alpaca wool sweater

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Here's how to clean an alpaca wool sweater so that it always looks great

Here’s how to clean an alpaca wool sweater so that it always looks great

Soft, high-performing alpaca wool will last for decades when properly cared for. Unfortunately, many people don?t know those proper methods and wind up ruining their garments. Resist throwing them in a washing machine or a dryer and you?re off to a great start.

Learning how to wash and clean an alpaca wool sweater is simple. The two options are hand washing and dry cleaning. While structured items like coats, accessories and finely woven shirts are dry clean only, regular hand washing will do the trick for most garments.

To hand wash, follow a few easy steps and add years of wear to these warm, luxuriously comfortable clothes.

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Hand washing tips

One of the most important steps for how to clean an alpaca wool sweater is rather common to forget. For best results, always clean the tub or sink you?ll be using first. So often we forget to clean our cleaning tools and containers! Any trace of residue or grime can get in your sweater. 

Use cold water and a drizzle of mild detergent for fine fibers, or even baby detergent, and fill the sink. The water must be cold. Hot or warm water will cause the fibers to sort of melt into each other and you?ll end up with felt.  Also, avoid harsh solutions like bleach as they?ll almost certainly destroy the item.


Submerse the sweater in cold soapy water for about 5 minutes. Be gentle and mindful. This type of wool stretches and weakens easily so avoid agitating it by wringing, scrubbing or twisting it. 

Don?t panic if some of the dye bleeds. This kind of wool retains dye more than many others. After this first wash, it probably won?t bleed at all.

When the 5 minutes are up, rinse the sweater in more cold water then carefully press excess water. Repeat this step a second time. Go slowly, to prevent the shape from warping or fabric from wrinkling.


Taking care when drying a clean sweater is just as important. Start by sandwiching it between two dry, clean towels, then rolling the towels. This will again help press out excess water while protecting the shape and fibers.

After a few more minutes, remove and lay it on another clean, dry towel. Position the sweater into its natural shape. Now place the towel in a dry, warm spot out of direst heat and sunlight. Check on it after an hour or so, and flip it over to dry on the back. Don’t forget to position it into its correct shape. 

As gentle and careful as you are, it may still dry with a few wrinkles. No problem. Use the steam from an iron to coax away any annoying creases.


When you don?t have the time, a professional dry-cleaner will have your garments looking as good as new. Remember to bring the care tags that came with the clothes. Also, point out any stains in need of spot treatment.


Many wool lovers are aware that preserving their favorites is about more than knowing how to clean an alpaca wool sweater. You also have to know how to store it. Too often, the dreaded moment comes in fall when you eagerly pull out the gorgeous Fair Isle-style sweaters only to find your favorites have been feasted on by moths!

Clean them or take your wool clothes to a dry cleaner before storing them, if they must be stored. Pests are attracted to body oils and dirt so removing that is a first line of defense.

The best way to store them is to fold them into a cardboard shirt box or a clean pillow case for circulation. Place the box or pillow case in a chest made from Spanish cedar, which bugs hate, and add in a few bundles of lavender. When it?s time to pull them back out, you?ll be greeted with whole, clean sweaters that smell nice.

Extra care pays off.


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