Awhile back I asked AllFreeCrochetAfghanPattern’s Facebook  fans this question:
“I have acquired some vintage granny square afghans  from my grandparents. They look to be made out of acrylic yarn, but I may have to check again. They are in pretty good shape, but could use a good wash. What are your best suggestions for washing these vintage afghans ?”
I received some very helpful tips from experienced crocheters and I believe this information can be useful for knitters and crocheters alike.
“I always wash my acrylic afghans in the washing machine with my towels and throw them in the dryer. They come out looking like the day they were made.” – Cara H.
“I’d let them soak in in a very gentle soap made foe wools then let them dry flat as if blocking them-even if they are acrylic other soaps can break the fibers down thus causing irreversible damage.” – Debbie K.
“Check all the seams before you wash and reinforce any that look frayed  or weak.” – Carol K.
“I used to use Woolite with luke warm water. Tumble dry is mesh bag low heat after wringing very well.” – Marilyn H.
“After rinsing and squeezing out enough water to make them light enough to carry to the laundry, you can put two or three in the washer tub and spin out more water on the gentle cycle. Put liquid fabric softener on an old (clean) cotton cloth, toss them in the dryer (one at a time) with the cloth for on a low setting for 10 minutes or so to work in the softener.” – Marie Cook
“I don’t dry mine completely dry in the dryer; lay them on a clean sheet on a bed or other flat surface. Over-drying will cause unnecessary wear and sometimes fuzziness.” Judith R.
“Easy way to tell if it is wool or synthetic is to find an extra scrap of yarn and light a match to it. Synthetic will melt, wool will scorch.” – Becky M.
“If they are smelly you should really soak them in a 5 gallon bucket, with 1/3 cup of Washing Soda (not baking) and Borax and about a tablespoon of dish soap. Let it soak for at least 2 hours then throw it in the wash on gentle, and ether tumble try or if you have a sunny day put it out in the sun to dry.” – Sarah C.
“If you find out they are wool, put them in the washer on the gentlest cycle possible with cool to cold water and use Woolite.” – Marta C.
“My trick for super soft yarns–add a few squirts of cheap hair conditioner to the rinse cycle. Let it work for a few minutes then soak for a while. Finish rinse and spin, then dry on low. Incredibly soft and fresh afghans! If they are really fragile–tie them inside a pillow case before washing.” – Lona S.
“Hand wash. The suggestion above re first cold water soak is great. Acrylic isn’t indestructible. Sounds like these afghans are very meaningful to you. Hand wash will prevent pilling, pulling out of shape and an assortment of damage. Nothing is as gentle as a hand wash in the tub and dry flat.” – Elizabeth M.
I’ve summarized these helpful answers into an easily pinnable graphic so that when the time comes, you’ll always know how to care for your vintage crocheted  or knitted pieces.