How to Wash Cotton Yarn Projects

Woman carrying a stack of crochet projects

Have you ever completed a cotton yarn project, only to wonder ‘what do I do when I need to wash it?’ Thankfully, cotton in particular holds up really well to washing, so this shouldn’t be too painful. Here is a quick rundown of how to wash cotton yarn projects!

Read the Label and Play it safe.

Most yarn projects can be handled according to the yarn label instructions. So, checking the label should be your first step. If you no longer have your label, you should be able to find the instructions as part of the yarn listing online wherever the yarn is sold. If you don’t remember the yarn type, then follow the ‘play it safe’ instructions below.

In general, cotton yarn can be washed and dried. It is sturdy and holds up well. It may shrink a little in the dryer, but also seems to stretch back out with use. If you have a particularly sentimental or intricate project, it’s best to play it safe and hand wash in cold, with mild detergent, and lay flat to dry. For household items like dish cloths and scrubbies, that are expected to have lots of wear and tear, you can toss them in with any of your other laundry. Cotton also tends to respond well to blocking if you find you lose some shape with washing.

What about that mildew smell with cotton kitchen items?

By far, the most common question I get in regards to keeping a cotton project clean is ‘How do I keep my crochet scrubby fresh?’

A favorite crochet project to make with cotton yarn is the scrubby (or even dish cloth) to replace the sponge in the kitchen. It is a great economical and eco-friendly option for kitchen clean up! However, the one downside of the crocheted scrubby is that it does not dry out quite as quickly as your everyday sponge.

The first thing to keep in mind is that, even though a sponge dries out more quickly, it still does not last long before it starts to develop a musty, mildew smell either. So, it shouldn’t really be surprising that the cotton version would as well. The real benefit of the crochet scrubby is not necessarily that it will last longer on the counter, but that you can wash it and re-use it many times. And then, when it is finally past it’s prime and time to toss it, you can just make yourself another one!

Washing Instructions For Scrubbies

hand pouring washing detergent into open washing machine

Most scrubbies are made to be hard workers, so it should be totally fine to toss them in with the rest of your laundry. Wash them with the other hard workers, the towels and wash cloths, for a nice hot water scrub and a spin in the dryer.

If, after you’ve run them through the normal wash, you still find they have a musty smell, there is one more thing to try before tossing them out. When you put them in the washing machine, add 1/4-1/2 cup of vinegar to the fabric softener cup and sprinkle 1/4-1/2 cup of baking soda right in the tub with the laundry. This should extend your scrubby’s freshness for a little longer.

Share your tips!

If you have any other tips to share for caring for our cotton projects, please leave a comment below!

Can’t decide which cotton yarn to try? Check out my Great Big List of Cotton Yarns!


  1. Not a cleaning tip but I have put a small clear command hook on the wall right above my sink. I hang my scrubby up with the hole in the middle. I can always find it and it dries nicely!

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