Different Types of Yarn and Their Washability

Whenever you are about to start a knitting project, the first thing you should do is decide which type of yarn will be suitable for it. There are many types of yarns and each one of them has its own features which make it more suitable for certain types of projects than others. Hence, you should be well-acquainted with all the options before making a choice.

Knitted items need proper maintenance in order to last longer, and depending on the material, it can be quite complicated. Any knitted piece, whether used daily or serving as a decorative item, will probably get a bit dirty over time and need to be cleaned at some point. Therefore, another important thing to keep in mind when choosing yarn is washability. Plus, yarn can be made from natural or synthetic fibres, and this also plays a big role when maintenance is considered.

That being said, let’s take a look at the features the most common types of yarn have and their washability.

superwash chunky yarn
Source: Pinterest

Superwash Yarn

Superwash yarns are some of the most popular yarns in the knitting world. These are wool yarns that have been treated so that they can be machine-washed without felting and shrinking. What makes them washable is the removal and suppression of the tiny scales that cover each individual fibre. The most common method of manufacturing superwash yarn is to remove the scales and then coat the yarn with a special finish to make it smoother. However, it’s important to know that superwash yarn will still felt in extreme circumstances, like high heat or when in contact with very abrasive surfaces.

Superwash yarn is available in all kinds of weights, from sock to chunky. So, if you want to knit yourself an oversized sweater, a blanket or other large item and don’t want to bother hand-washing it, you can simply go for superwash chunky yarn. Plus, this type of chunky yarn is an excellent choice for clothing items. Because it’s treated to be smooth, superwash chunky yarn is incredibly soft to the touch and your skin will love this when compared to yarns that are itchy. The superwash chunky yarn is great for heavy sweaters and scarves, but also for afghans, rugs and art pieces.

Wool Yarn
Source: Artnews

Wool Yarn

One of the most common types of yarn fibre found in the market is wool yarn. It is widely known for being durable and very warm, therefore it’ss great for thick, winter garments. Apart from being good for cold weather, it’s also popular for its durability and resistance to moisture. It is great for making all kinds of sweaters, scarves, gloves, hats, socks, and any other winter clothing. The natural colour of the wool is creamy white but it can be dyed in a range of colours.

Many people are allergic to wool and it can be slightly itchy for them, so the wool yarn is not the best choice for everybody. Another kind of disadvantage is that it is prone to pilling over time.

When it comes to taking care of wool, you should know that the wool should be gently hand washed in tepid water. However, wool yarns shouldn’t be washed often, because frequent washing can cause them to lose their natural oils and dry out.


This type of yarn is characterised by being light, breathable and strong. By having these features, it’s the ideal choice for summer knits, dishcloths, potholders and scrubbies.

When it comes to washability, the cotton yarns can usually be machine-washed. Generally, they’re easy to care for, primarily because we all own a good amount of cotton clothing and therefore, know how to treat it. Only if the cotton is mercerized the knitted items can be prone to shrinking in the wash.

Source: Createlet


If you’re a beginner knitter  the acrylic yarn, which is a man-made fibre, is the best choice for you since it’s easy to manipulate. Acrylic yarn is also good for knitting something that needs to be regularly washed. Items made of this type of yarn can be laundered with detergent and also thrown in the dryer on high heat.

The one thing that you shouldn’t do, however, is to iron them because the acrylic will melt. Later on, once you’ve gotten better at knitting, it is best to move onto the natural fibres, like superwash or cotton. Since this is a synthetic fibre, it is a much cheaper option in comparison with most natural fibres.


Cashmere reminds you of something soft and fluffy because it is the smoothest yarn of them all. Considering this, it’s also rather expensive. Because of its superior insulation, cashmere is well-suited for winter cardigans and accessories.

In order to make the cost more accessible, cashmere can be blended with some other fibres. When it comes to cleaning, the best option is dry-cleaning. You can also machine wash it, by selecting the gentle cycle on cold water.