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Untwisting a Skein of Yarn
How can I clean old acrylic yarn?
I found a bunch of skeins of yarn in an attic from the 1970s. The yarn is still good but is very dusty and a bit smelly. How should I go about cleaning it?
You can wash it either by hand in warm water with detergent or in a washing machine. If you use a top-loader machine, use just the pre-soak cycle and the rinse cycle (on gentle and slow speed).
You will have better results if you re-wind the yarn *before* you wash it. If you have a yarn swift, use it to unwind the skeins. Otherwise, you may want to set two chairs back to back a couple of feet apart and carefully unwind the skeins around the chair backs. Then gather the yarn and tie it up with 4 separate pieces of yarn at 4 points around the hank to keep it from tangling--but it will tangle some anyway if you use a top-loading machine, even on gentle setting.
Another way you can do it if the skeins are on the smaller side is to take a wire hanger (like things come on from the cleaners') and bend it into a square with the handle at one corner. Wind your yarn around it in the shape of a cross.
Once you have either a tied hank or the yarn on the wire frame, swish it several times through warm water with detergent (dishwashing liquid will work or regular laundry detergent) or let a tied hank soak for a while in the washer. Rinse thoroughly, swish through rinse water with fabric softener if desired, and hang to dry. When it's dry, wind back into a ball or use a ball winder to wind it into a "cake."
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