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A lot of us constantly wear sweaters and hoodies during the winter in order to reduce our heating bills. It's a simple way to save money and lessen our carbon footprints. But what about our sweater footprints? Environmentalists probably have a huge sweater footprint from all that sweater-wearing. At this rate there will be no sweaters left by 2046.

In order to preserve our sweater heritage, we need to learn how to properly preserve our garments. Proper sweater maintenance keeps old sweaters out of landfills, reduces the material needed for new sweaters and pleases Bill Cosby. Here is how to reduce your sweater footprint.

1. Don't smoosh your sweater into a drawer or put it on a hanger. Fold it.

2. Learn to sew. If your sweater gets a rip, you don't want to walk around with a big hole like a Dexys Midnight Runner. Close that hole immediately.

3. Keep a couple of sweaters in your rotation. Your sweaters will thank you for their small vacation from your body and your friends probably like to see you in different outfits.

4. Remove all fuzz, hair and lint from your sweaters. You can use a soft-bristled brush to do this.

5. Follow washing instructions. Respect the sweater's wishes. If the tag says, wash in cold water. You'd better wash it in cold water.

6. Never store a sweater wet. ( Never feed a sweater after midnight.)

7. If a sweater has lost its shape, you can repair it. Soak the sweater. Then pad the areas you?d like reshaped.

8. Wash sweaters before they go into storage. You can further protect sweaters with all-natural moth balls.

9. If you wear a coat over your sweater or rough long johns under your sweater, it may decrease the lifespan of your sweater. Try and reduce sweater friction.

10. If your sweater is beyond repair, it can always become mittens.

Hand washing is a simple process that doesn't take long and is not difficult. Here are the best tips that we have found for hand washing your sweater:

  • Turn your sweater inside out to protect the outside surface fibers from pulling.
  • Fill the sink with tepid or slightly warm water, add a small amount of a good, natural detergent to the water and mix it in slightly but not so much as to create foam suds. Never use chlorine bleach on wool because it breaks down the fiber.
  • Place your sweater in the water and gently push the sweater down until it is completely wet and then just let it soak for 20 minutes.
  • With time, the water and detergent will penetrate every area of the sweater and do their job.
  • Avoid the temptation to kneed the sweater or roll it around.
  • This is the stage in the process where you must be extra careful to avoid stretching the sweater unduly as the wool yarns are more fragile and susceptible to stretching when wet.
  • Then, turn on the tap and run the water to rinse, until you've rinsed out all the bubbles. Be careful that you always are supporting the sweater from underneath whenever you lift it to prevent stretching.
  • Then, wash again and rinse.
  • Allow the sweater to drain for a few minutes, then gently lay it on a towel, roll the towel, and press the rolled towel.
  • Don't wring the wet sweater or rub it.
  • When you unroll the towel, you can blot the sweater with another dry towel as long as you only apply pressure and do not rub.
  • Place the sweater face up on a dry towel and block it, which means to shape the sweater gently with your hands into its original shape.
  • Draw together the waist and wrist ribbing, button cardigans closed, roll collars into position, and straighten the sleeves.
  • The drying process will help form the sweater into the shape you want.
  • If you want to reshape it, this is your chance.
  • Finally, let your sweaters dry overnight.
  • In the morning, turn and block the other side until dry.
  • Drying time can be 12 - 72 hours, depending on your climate, how thick the sweater, and how damp it was to begin with.