Sweaters get a bad rap for being difficult to care for. Sure, they can be a bit temperamental, but the rules of sweater care are actually fairly straightforward — once you know them. The most important thing to know is how to wash a sweater. There are also some specialty products that make a big difference in extending the life of your sweaters and ensuring they look their very best.

First, some basics: According to Jacqueline Sava, the founder of Soak Wash, “The biggest mistake people make is actually not washing their sweaters. Like ever.” Washing sweaters helps to preserve and refresh the fibers by removing what Sava calls “invisible dirt” — stuff like body oils, dead skin, dirt and dust.

You should wash sweaters every few wears; it’s also important to wash sweaters before putting them in mid- or long-term storage, to deter moths and other pests. Storing a dirty sweater can also cause stains and smells to become set into the fibers. When it comes to storing sweaters, folded is best — hanging a sweater while wet will cause it to stretch and become misshapen, and hanging a dry sweater can cause hanger marks (also known as “points”).

Jiffy Steamer Lint Brush

$11.94 $12.91 at Amazon

Jiffy Steamer Lint Brush

Before sticky lint rollers were the go-to for removing hair, lint and other debris was brushed off clothing with an actual brush! Clothing brushes are still around, and they’re great to know about; not only do they work very well, they don’t create the waste or expense that sticky rollers do.

Flint Refillable Retractable Lint Roller

From $7.99 at Amazon

Flint Refillable Retractable Lint Roller

Sticky rollers absolutely have an important role to play when it comes to fabric care — they can be great to tuck into a bag or a desk drawer for quickly cleaning up a sweater that’s gotten linty or is covered in pet hair. But sticky rollers are, well, sticky and can be a mess when not in use. The retractable lint roller by Flint solves that problem.

Gleener Ultimate Fuzz Remover Fabric Shaver & Lint Brush

$19.99 at Amazon

Gleener Ultimate Fuzz Remover Fabric Shaver & Lint Brush

A problem that lint brushes and sticky rollers don’t address is that of pilling. Pilling on sweaters occurs when friction causes fibers to fray or break and become tangled, lending a battered appearance to the garment. The Gleener fabric shaver and lint brush is the best tool for removing pills from any type of sweater, from the thickest woolen sweater to the finest, most delicate cashmere.

Conair Battery-Operated Fabric Defuzzer/Shaver

$12.95 at Amazon

Conair Battery Operated Fabric Defuzzer/Shaver

Battery-operated fabric shavers are another great option for de-pilling sweaters. To use, allow the shaver to gently glide over the surface of the sweater and pick up pills. The shaver has a collection compartment that can be emptied after use.

Soak Wash

$16 at Amazon

Soak Wash

A specialty detergent for use on sweaters is not necessary at all — a small amount of regular detergent can be used both when machine or hand-washing a sweater — but one can be nice to have! This is especially true if you frequently hand-wash sweaters and other delicates. Soak Wash, a no-rinse formula, is our top choice when it comes to detergents for hand-laundering because of its ease of use.

Eucalan Delicate Wash

$4.54 at Amazon

Eucalan Delicate Wash

Eucalan Delicate Wash is another excellent no-rinse detergent. However, it contains lanolin, which makes it a great detergent for washing woolens (lanolin appears naturally in wool), but it isn’t ideal for laundering other fabrics because it can attract dirt.

Le Blanc Silk & Lingerie Wash

$36 at Amazon

Le Blanc Silk & Lingerie Wash

Specialty detergents make a great gift, since they’re items we typically don’t splurge on for ourselves. If you’re looking for a highly giftable delicates detergent to give to a knitter or fashionista, Le Blanc’s silk and lingerie wash is an excellent detergent with a luxurious scent.

Woolite Extra Delicates Care Detergent

$4.47 at Amazon

Woolite Extra Delicates Care Detergent

Woolite is an old standard, and for good reason: It’s a very good detergent and, unlike other detergents made for sweaters, it has the benefit of being widely available and quite affordable.

Bagail Set of 5 Mesh Laundry Bags

$8.99 at Amazon

Bagail Set of 5 Mesh Laundry Bags

Hand-washing is the gold standard of sweater care, but many sweaters can be laundered right in the washing machine, saving time and effort. But extra measures, like using a mesh laundering bag, should be taken to ensure the garment doesn’t get ruined. The bag will reduce the amount of friction the sweater is exposed to, preventing the fibers from fraying or snagging while in the wash.

Kimmama XXL Oversize Mesh Laundry Bag

$12.99 at Amazon

Kimmama XXL Oversize Mesh Laundry Bag

Buying a set of mesh washing bags in assorted sizes will be the right choice for most people, since they are useful when laundering items other than just sweaters. But if sweaters are the only thing you use washing bags for, or if you routinely machine-wash more than one sweater, grab this set of two oversized bags.

Rainleaf Fast-Drying Super-Absorbent Microfiber Towel

From $8.99 at Amazon

Rainleaf Fast Drying Super Absorbent Microfiber Towel

After washing, it can be helpful to roll up a sweater in a towel to extrude water without wringing or twisting the garment, which can cause the fibers to stretch or break. Using a super-absorbent quick-drying towel for the job is ideal — they’re also a smart choice for use when doing hand-washing while traveling.

Oxo Good Grips Folding Sweater Drying Rack With Fold-Flat Legs

$17.99 at Amazon

Oxo Good Grips Folding Sweater Drying Rack with Fold-Flat Legs

Regardless of whether you’re washing in the machine or by hand, sweaters should always be dried flat; hanging a wet sweater will cause it to stretch and become misshapen. A flat mesh drying rack is ideal for sweaters because it allows air to circulate evenly even when the sweater is flat.

Storage Maniac Stackable Sweater Drying Rack

$34.99 at Amazon

Storage Maniac Stackable Sweater Drying Rack

Washing a load of sweaters all at once is a good time management strategy, but when it comes to drying more than one sweater at a time, it can leave you with damp clothes strewn all over the place. A stackable sweater drying rack solves that problem, and will be the right choice for people who routinely wash more than one sweater at a time.

Honey-Can-Do Heavy-Duty Gullwing Drying Rack

$64.99 at Amazon

Honey-Can-Do Heavy Duty Gullwing Drying Rack

Drying racks designed specifically for sweaters are a good choice for some, but a multipurpose drying rack will be the right choice for most people. Look for styles that offer ample space for flat drying, like the Honey-Can-Do gullwing rack.

CY Craft Acrylic Shelf Dividers

$26.88 at Amazon

CY Craft Acrylic Shelf Dividers

Sweaters should not be hung, but stacks of folded sweaters have a way of falling all over themselves and ending up in a heap. Shelf dividers help to solve that problem by creating cubbyholes that help to keep a stack of folded sweaters in place.

Sorbus Foldable Storage Bag

$14.99 at Amazon

Sorbus Foldable Storage Bag

When it comes to selecting storage bags for sweaters, consider the storage environment and look for styles that protect against dust, pests, water, light, etc. depending on what the storage space is like. This set of foldable storage bags collapses when not in use, and because they are fabric, they’re more breathable than plastic bins.

Household Essentials Cedarline Natural Cotton Canvas Zippered Sweater Bag

$26.99 $20.86 at Amazon

Household Essentials Cedarline Natural Cotton Canvas Zippered Sweater Bag

Sweater storage options come in all different shapes and sizes, and the trick to finding the right one for you is to measure the storage space you have before making any purchases. Wide, flat storage bags are a popular option, and this style features sewn-in loops into which cedar panels can be inserted.

Sterilite 16-Quart Basic Clear Storage Boxes, 2-Pack

$49.99 $26.95 at Amazon

Sterilite 16 Quart Basic Clear Storage Box with White Lid

Plastic is less breathable than fabric, which is a drawback when storing sweaters. However, if your storage space is prone to moisture or worse — flooding! — a watertight bin will be the smart storage choice to protect against potential water damage.

The Linen Lady Acid-Free Archival Tissue Paper

$24.86 at Amazon

The Linen Lady Acid Free Archival Tissue Paper

When it comes to storing very delicate or precious sweaters, it’s important to take steps to protect them from light, dust, moisture, etc. Wrapping the garments in acid-free tissue will help to keep them from becoming yellowed while put away.