Tutorial: How to soften acrylic yarn skeins; yes they can be washed in your washing machine!

Posted by on September 15, 2012 at 7:50 am.

This past December, when I learned to crochet, I purchased cheap Red Heart Super Saver yarn from a few big box stores; Wal Mart and Michaels. The only downside to working with this fiber was that some of the skeins were scratchy. The scratchy factor isn’t reserved to acrylics, since I’ve encountered some animal fibers (mainly wool) that were super scratchy too.

Skeins of acrylic yarn, ready to be washed. Don’t forget to remove the yarn labels!

 

I don’t like working with scratchy yarn… I knew that many finished objects made with acrylic yarn, soften after they’ve been washed, but I decided to experiment and wash the entire skein before using them.

Red Heart yarn skeins, zipped in the mesh laundry bag and ready to go through the wash cycle!

What you need

  1. Mesh laundry bag aka lingerie bag for washing hosiery or delicate clothing
  2. Optional; Cover skeins of yarn with nylon stockings that have been cut into skein sized tubes.  Think of it as a jacket for your yarn skeins. I find when I do this the loose yarn ends don’t wander…which could unravel the yarn a tiny bit. I don’t always use nylon tubes.

Yarn skeins in nylon tubes, reduce tangles. You can cut up nylon stockings to make these tubes.

Directions on washing your acrylic yarn skeins

If you’re unsure about the results, just test one acrylic yarn skein.

  1. Remove the yarn label, you don’t want that going into the washing machine! If you want to identify the yarn color later, hold onto the label to place on after it’s been washed and dried, or make your own cute labels.
  2. Place yarn in mesh wash bag. I usually loop scrap yarn through the zipper hole and one of the mesh holes and tie. Since occasionally my lingerie bag will open during the wash cycle.
  3. Place yarn filled bag into the washing machine.
  4. Add detergent, instead of fabric softener I use vinegar
  5. Wash on warm setting, since washing acrylics at hot temperatures can damage the yarn.
  6. Once the cycle is complete, place the skeins (still in the mesh bag) into the dryer.
  7. Dry on warm setting. Too much heat can damage acrylic.
  8. Enjoy your softer yarn.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don’t overload your washing machine. You don’t want it to become unbalanced, or potentially burn the motor. When I first started washing my acrylic yarn skeins, I sat near the machine to make sure everything was fine.
  • You might need to secure the zipper on your mesh laundry bag. I found my bag would come open during the wash cycle. I found looping yarn through the zipper hole and through the mesh and then tying it closed solved this issue. Some machine wash bags don’t have large mesh holes, in this case you could thread a needle with regular sewing thread or embroidery floss and do the same thing.
  • Make sure the yarn skeins are dry before putting it in bag or storage containers, you don’t want your yarn to get mildew.

Washed and dried acrylic yarn. The texture of this Red Heart super saver yarn has changed tremendously, it’s now squishy soft!

 

Over the past several months I’ve been gifted with acrylic yarns for the various ministries where I crochet and knit things; The Mother Bear Project,  and making chemo and preemie hats for a local hospital. The organizations where I donate items request that crocheters and knitters use acrylic yarn. I’ll also use acrylics or washable yarn for people that don’t want to be bothered with hand-washing.

I must say now that I soften the skeins before working on a project, I don’t mind working with acrylic yarn!

I love the color of this yarn, and since the acrylic skein has been softened by washing, I can now make some lovely preemie hats!

 

Sometimes I wash my acrylic yarn skeins more than once, I just make sure I use a warm setting if I’m washing with like colors. The beauty of the acrylic yarns that I use, is the yarn tends to get softer with each wash.

I mainly use non-acrylic yarn, but  if I must use acrylic, Red Heart super saver is usually my “Go To” yarn. RHSS have a variety of colors that I adore, so I make sure that I soften the skeins first before working with it. If you have acrylic yarns that you aren’t using, because they’re too scratchy, try it out.

 

 

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