How to clean an Aran hand-knitted sweater

Updated April 17, 2017

Aran wool originates from the wind-buffeted Aran Islands that are situated off the west coast of Ireland and at the mouth of Galway Bay. There are two types of Aran sweaters - hand-knitted and hand-loomed. Hand-knitted Aran sweaters are more water resistant than hand-loomed types as they are created using unscoured wool, or wool that has retained its natural oils. However, both types of Aran sweater require gentle and meticulous washing and drying methods to maintain their shape and preserve the insulating qualities of the wool.

Place a large bowl into a sink. Fill the bowl with cold water. Pour mild detergent that is designed for washing woollen garments into the bowl. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines to ensure an appropriate detergent to water ratio. Swirl your hand in the water until the detergent is dissolved.

Immerse the unfolded sweater into the water. Swirl the sweater gently with your hand for a few minutes to let the soapy water penetrate and clean the fibres.

Place one hand over the wet sweater and use your other hand to tip the soapy water out of the bowl and into the sink. Fill the bowl with fresh cold water. Gently swirl the sweater in the water to rinse out the detergent. Repeat the rinsing process a few more times until the water runs clear.

Lift the sweater from the bowl and onto a large dry towel. Gently roll the sweater in the towel. Unroll the drenched towel, place the sweater onto a second, dry towel and gently roll the sweater again to remove excess water.

Spread a large dry towel onto a table top or clean area of the floor. Unroll the towel, remove the damp sweater and lay it flat onto the dry towel. Smooth the sweater into shape on the towel and then leave it to air dry. Once the uppermost section of the sweater is dry, turn the sweater over, smooth it into shape and leave it on the towel until it is completely dry.


Avoid twisting or wringing the Aran sweater throughout the washing process as rough handling could stretch the woollen fibres.

Do not use hot water.

Do not use a washing machine or tumble dryer.

Things You'll Need

  • Bowl
  • Detergent
  • Towels
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About the Author

Mother of three and graduate of the London Metropolitan University, Julie Vickers is an early years teacher and writer who also loves to craft and create! She writes on topics such as education, health and parenting for websites such as School Explained and has contributed learning sessions on child development and behavior for the Education Information and Learning Services website.