How to Clean Yarn

How to wash yarn from thrift store.
This is some yarn I washed, hanging out to dry that I unraveled from a thrift store sweater.

How to clean yarn, you may be here because you might have just spilled a drink on some new yarn you just bought, or perhaps you are recycling yarn from an old project and need to straighten it out. Maybe you bought some yarn from a secondhand local thrift store (always great low prices for yarn) and you don’t know where it’s been sitting, it could be dusty or smell musky. Whatever your reason is, we hope to help you out with the best methods to help you clean your yarn without felting and so that it is usable again!

Basic Way to Wash Most Yarns

An easy, yet basic way to wash most yarns, including store bought yarns, handspun yarns and recycled yarns that are rolled into a skein.

Before You Start Washing:

Tie your yarn hanks securely in a few places to prevent tangling. It is a good idea to use a yarn of a different color when doing this so you can easily find them later when it comes to spinning your hank into a ball.

You Will Need:

  • Hot and cold water
  • Yarn wound into a skein
  • A mild liquid soap that you would wash your hands. Only need a little bit.
  • A sink/basin and a portable basin
  • Somewhere to hang dry your skeins or hangers

Yarn Washing Method:

  1. Fill the sink with hot water and add a small amount of your liquid soap.
  2. Add your skein into the hot soapy water and use tongs to move it around so you don’t burn your hands, you don’t have to be too gentle while doing this, but do not over agitate it either, find a middle ground. You may notice a bit of dye shedding in the hot water, this is fine. Try 1 to 3 skeins of yarn at a time, you don’t want to overcrowd the sink.
  3. Take your yarn out and place it straight into your second basin filled with cold water and rinse the yarn in order to remove all the soap residue, then gently squeeze the yarn to remove as much water as possible.
  4. You may need to repeat the process above a few times or maybe not depending on the state your yarn is in.
  5. Open up your skein, go outside and if you are willing you can try swirling the hanks of yarn in order to rid them of excess water.
  6. Finally, hang out to dry!

Washing a Ball of Yarn

You can wash a ball of yarn by using the method listed above, but that involves unraveling the ball into a skein, if this is not a step you want to take, there is another method. This method may be riskier but could also yield great results.

Alternative and Quicker Method for Washing Yarn Wound into a Ball

This is perfect for thrift store yarns and any yarns that you have spilled stuff on or may smell like smoke or be dusty etc.

Simply place the ball of yarn into a cut up pantyhose leg, tube sock or undergarment bag, tie it up and throw it in the washing machine, then into the dryer for drying the yarn ball!

What Next?

Start using your freshly cleaned yarn with one of the many patterns on this site, see our latest patterns here: New Knitting Patterns

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