I really love the look of a new crocheted garment. Love it so much that I want it to look new as long as possible. Of course, ordinary wear weathers a garment to a certain extent. Some garments can benefit by an aged look-- "boyfriend" sweaters, for instance. And if you really, really love a garment, you want to wear it a lot. Which means it will need washing sooner rather than later. And that means reblocking.
I'm all about postponing the whole washing and reblocking thing as long as possible.
If you're with me on this, read on, bearing in mind that not all tips suit all garments.
Always wear something under the garment. If the style of the garment suits, wear a tee-long or short-sleeved. A cami will do for a sleeveless garment. The goal is to keep the garment from touching your body. (Of course, we know you bathe regularly, but even the cleanest skin exudes all sorts of things that mingle with fibers to make them smelly-ish.)
When wearing your cherished crochet garment, avoid:
> bars, bowling alleys or barbecue joints. Smells in smelly places attach to the fibers and nothing will get them out except a good washing.
> small children bearing ice cream or lollipops. That sticky stuff can be spot-cleaned, but getting off really sticky stuff will stretch the fibers in that area, calling for a full washing.
> red wine, blueberries, and butter blobs. Nuff said. If things don't work out, click here.
> people who come at you with the "I must touch" look in their eyes. Do a quick, stealthy check of their hands. If it looks like they've just come in from the garden or from mixing up dough or hanging out with small children bearing lollipops, deflect their touch by quickly sticking out your hand for a shake. Hands are easier to clean.
If things happen (as they do), spot clean when necessary. Got a little foodstuff or dust on your garment? Pull off any large bits. Wet a washcloth with lukewarm water and press it against the fabric. Do not scrub, or you will distend the fabric and only washing will make it right again. Press the wet cloth against the fabric until the stain is gone, turning the washcloth as necessary, to avoid putting the stain right back on the crocheted fabric.
Every couple of wearings, air fluff your garment. Put your garment in the dryer with a dryer sheet (I like unscented sheets). To reduce agitation of the fabric against the walls of the dryer, put the garment inside a mesh lingerie bag. Turn the dryer to "Air dry only" and fluff it out.
In between wearings, store your garment in a place with airflow, if possible. Peggy Sue (pictured above) is a nice place to keep a shawl, for instance. Don't hang it on a hanger, as that will distend it, but don't squirrel it away in a pile, either. Scrunching up a thing that's been worn will let any detritus on it fester and next time you go to wear it, it may need a wash. Air is good.
Now, when the season has ended and you have to put away your garment for a while, you really must rewash and reblock it. And Sarah Read, a braver woman than I, will tell you all about it in her blog next week.