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How To Care For Your Yarn To Extend Its Life And Reduce Waste

6 mins read. Published on 18 Apr 23, Updated on 01 Jun 23.
How To Care For Your Yarn To Extend Its Life And Reduce Waste

If you're a crafter, chances are you have a lot of yarn lying around. After all the time and effort that goes into creating beautiful knitted or crocheted items, it's only natural to want them to last as long as possible. Not only that, but taking care of your yarn properly means you're doing your part to reduce waste and make more sustainable choices.

When you're not using your yarn, it's important to store it correctly in order to keep it in good condition. And once you've completed a project, there are steps you can take to ensure that your finished piece will remain in great shape for years to come. Follow these tips on how to care for your yarn, and you'll be able to enjoy your creations for a long time while minimizing your impact on the environment.

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Caring For Your Yarn

Yarn is a precious commodity for any knitter or crocheter, and taking care of it can extend its life and reduce waste. Here are some tips to keep your yarn in tip-top shape:


When storing yarn, avoid damp or humid areas as this can compromise the fibers. Instead, choose a cool, dry location, and keep your yarn in a breathable container. It's also a good idea to store your yarn away from direct sunlight to prevent fading.


If your finished project requires washing, always follow the instructions on the yarn label to avoid damaging it. Hand washing is recommended for most yarns, and it's important to use a gentle detergent and cool water. Avoid twisting or wringing the yarn, and instead, gently squeeze out the excess water.


When winding your yarn into balls or skeins, be careful not to snag or tangle it. Use a swift to hold the yarn in place, and wind it in a smooth, even motion. This will prevent the yarn from stretching or breaking and prolong its life.


If you have leftover yarn from a project, consider repurposing it instead of throwing it away. You can use it to make smaller projects like hats, scarves, and mittens or donate it to someone who can put it to good use. This not only reduces waste, but it also gives your yarn a new lease on life.

Ways To Extend The Life Of Your Yarn

Proper Storage

One of the best ways to extend the life of your yarn is by storing it properly. Keep your yarn in a dry, cool and dark area, as sunlight can cause fading and break down the fibers. Avoid keeping it in plastic bags which can trap moisture and cause mold and mildew. Instead, consider using breathable bags or containers. Also, try to keep your yarn away from pets as they can damage your yarn with their claws or chew on it accidentally.

Gentle Washing

Washing your yarn can help extend its life, but it's important to be gentle when doing so. Use a mild detergent and lukewarm water, and avoid harsh chemicals or hot water as they can damage the fibers. Never put your yarn in the washing machine or dryer unless it's specified in the yarn's care instructions. Instead, consider handwashing and air-drying your yarn to keep it in good condition for longer.

Proper Handling

Proper handling is key to extending the life of your yarn. Be gentle when working with it, as pulling and tugging can cause the fibers to fray and break. It's also important to avoid leaving your work in progress in direct sunlight or in areas with high humidity or temperature. When transporting your work, place it in a breathable and protective bag to prevent any damage.

Preventing Pilling

Pilling is the formation of tiny balls of fuzz that appear on the surface of your yarn. To prevent pilling, avoid using rough surfaces when working with your yarn and try not to rub it excessively. Additionally, you can use a sweater shaver or fabric comb to remove any pills that have already formed on your yarn.

Storing Leftover Yarn

Leftover yarn can be used for future projects, but it's important to store it properly to avoid damage. Roll it into a loose ball or store it in a breathable bag or container. Make sure to keep it in a cool, dry and dark area to prevent fading and damage.

Reduce Waste With Proper Yarn Care

As an eco-conscious crafter, it's important to extend the life of your yarn and reduce waste as much as possible. Here are some tips on how to care for your yarn:


When storing your yarn, make sure it's in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Avoid storing it in plastic bags as moisture can build up and cause mildew. Instead, use breathable fabric or paper bags. It's also a good idea to add some moth repellent or lavender sachets to prevent pests.


It's important to wash your finished projects before storing or wearing them to remove any dirt or oil from your hands. Follow the care instructions on the yarn label and use a gentle, eco-friendly detergent. Avoid using fabric softener as it can coat the fibers and affect their absorbency.


Blocking is the process of shaping your project to the correct size and shape. Wet blocking involves soaking your project in water, then pinning it into shape and letting it dry. This is good for natural fibers like wool and cotton. Steam blocking is better for synthetic fibers like acrylic. Make sure your blocking surface is clean and rust-free.

Donating or Recycling

If you have leftover yarn or finished projects that you no longer need, consider donating them to a local charity or school. You can also recycle them by unravelling the yarn and using it for a new project, or by sending them to textile recycling centers.

Yarn Care Tips


Proper storage is key to keeping your yarn in good shape. Store your yarn in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, moisture, and dust. Avoid keeping your yarn in plastic bags or airtight containers as they can trap moisture and lead to mildew growth. Instead, opt for cotton or linen bags or use an open shelving unit.


Cleaning your yarn is important to keep it fresh and free from dirt and odors. Hand washing is the best method for cleaning yarn as it is gentle and avoids the risk of felting. Use lukewarm water and a mild detergent, and make sure to rinse thoroughly. Avoid wringing or twisting the yarn as this can damage the fibers. Instead, gently squeeze out excess water and lay the yarn flat to dry.


How you handle your yarn can also affect its longevity. Avoid pulling or tugging on the yarn as this can lead to stretching and breakage. When working with your yarn, be sure to keep it off the floor to avoid picking up dirt and debris. Also, be mindful of how you store your works in progress - avoid crumpling or folding as this can create permanent creases in the yarn.


If you find yourself with leftover yarn, don't let it go to waste! Repurpose it by making smaller projects like amigurumi, scrunchies or coasters. You can also donate your yarn to schools or community centers for use in art programs or other creative purposes. By finding ways to repurpose your yarn, you are helping to reduce waste and promote sustainability.

Protecting Your Yarn From Damage

Store Your Yarn Properly

When you're not knitting or crocheting, store your yarn in a clean and dry space. It's best to keep them in sealed plastic bags or containers to protect them from dust and pests. If you're planning to keep your yarn for a long time, consider using vacuum-sealed bags to prevent moisture and air exposure which can cause the yarn to break down and weaken in quality.

Handle Your Yarn with Care

Be careful when handling your yarn to avoid tangling, knotting, or tearing. Always use clean hands and avoid using lotion or greasy products as it can transfer onto the yarn and affect its quality. Be gentle when pulling from the skein and avoid yanking or tugging which can cause breaks or snags.

Choose the Right Needles or Hooks

Using the right size and type of needles or hooks is important to avoid damaging your yarn. Always check the label's recommended size and gauge to avoid overstretching or compressing the yarn. Using needles or hooks that are too small can cause the yarn to break or split, while using those that are too large can cause distortion or laddering.

Wash Your Finished Projects Carefully

When it's time to wash your finished project, make sure to follow the instructions on the label carefully. Handwashing is usually recommended to avoid damaging the yarn's fibers or color. Use a gentle detergent or wool wash and avoid fabric softeners or bleach. Always dry flat to avoid stretching or warping the shape of the item. By taking care of your yarn properly, you can extend its life and reduce waste. Not only will you save money, but you're also doing your part in sustainability by avoiding unnecessary yarn purchases and reducing the impact of textile waste on the environment. How To Care For Your Yarn To Extend Its Life And Reduce Waste

Maximizing The Lifespan Of Your Yarn

Store Your Yarn Properly

Proper storage can prevent damage to your yarn from moisture, insects, and dust. Keep your yarn in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Avoid storing yarn in plastic bags, as this can trap moisture and promote mildew growth. Instead, opt for breathable cotton bags or clear plastic containers with air holes.

Handle Your Yarn With Care

Yarn is susceptible to damage from rough handling, pulling, and snagging. When unwinding your yarn, avoid putting too much tension on it, as this can stretch and weaken the fibers. Use a yarn bowl or bag to prevent it from rolling and tangling. When knitting or crocheting, handle the yarn gently to prevent splitting and breakage.

Wash Your Yarn Carefully

Washing your finished project is essential to get rid of dirt and sweat, but it can also damage the yarn. Always follow the care instructions provided by the yarn manufacturer, such as washing in cold water and avoiding harsh detergents. You can also hand wash your project using a gentle detergent and cold water. Never wring or twist the yarn, as this can cause distortion and breakage. Instead, gently press out the water using a towel and let it air dry flat.

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