Where I live we're currently entering the Winter season so I've just finished handwashing all of my winter items like wool knee socks and cashmere jumpers. In case you didn't know I'm currently finishing my final year at an art college doing a textiles course, I know a sad amount about fabrics and fibres but I won't bore you with it too much.
Long story short, don't just bang your wool/cashmere/etc in the machine and complain when it shrinks. Once it's shrunk that's it, it's gone and it won't go back to it's orignial shape because the fibres have offically knitted together. Also putting them in the dryer is a big no no, but you already knew that right? Right? The only I've ever took my wool jumper to the dry cleaners was when I spilt cat food down it (I swear the cat nudged me). Dry cleaning isn't as gentle on fabrics as you would think and it actually costs a lot if you plan to wash it every month, personally I deeply recommend hand washing your items and so I've created my own mini guide.
- Fill your sink with lukewarm water and add a few drops of baby shampoo to create foam.
- Carefully place your sweater on top of the water and gently press it into the water, let it rest there for a minute or two and the foamy water should clean it without you needing to roughly handle the wool.
- Take it out the water with both hands, don't yank it out by one sleeve or you risk stretching it.
- Place it in a dry bowl to safely drain while you empty your sink.
- Refill your sink with clean lukewarm water and let it soak for less than a minute, this will get rid of any left over soap.
- Now drain your sink and let your sweater sit in it for two minutes to drain majority of the water out.
- If your sweater is still quite heavy leave it to drain for a bit longer, speed up the process by gently press on top of your sweater.
- Remove the sweater from the sink onto a folded towel, place another towel on top and gently press the top of sweater. You'll need to repeat this until the sweater is damp rather than wet, if in doubt keep pressing. More dry than more wet.
- Transfer your sweater onto a dry towel and leave it for a few hours, swap the sides occasionally as it dries.
- Keep your sweater away from anything heated and let it dry completely naturally, this may take a few days.