What Is the Knit Cycle?

Cassie Damewood

Modern washers and dryers have a myriad of cycle settings from which to choose based on the fabric and construction of the clothes you are cleaning. Appropriately using these settings makes your clothes last longer, look better and get cleaner than lumping them all together in one load.

Special washer and dryer settings are used to clean and dry knit fabrics.

The knit cycle is one of several washer and dryer settings that vary in name by appliance manufacturer.

Washing Machine Knit Cycle

Also commonly called the delicate cycle, this setting uses gentle agitation and cold water to clean acrylic and cotton-blend sweaters, knit tops and bottoms, linen garments, lingerie and dry-fit clothing, which is made of special fabrics designed to pull moisture from the body and keep people cooler. The cool water and light agitation used in this cycle prevents stretching, damaging and misshaping of these types of clothes.

Dryer Knit Cycle

Knits and delicates are typically made of fabrics with millions of tiny fibers, which make them fragile and susceptible to falling apart under adverse conditions. The knit/delicate dryer setting slowly dries clothes at temperatures barely above room temperature to prevent fraying, fading and fabric damage. Although this cycle uses a lot of energy, the savings in clothes preservation can offset the cost.

Other Gentle Washer Settings

For more delicate items and fabrics, some washers have settings called Hand Wash and Rinse and Spin. The hand wash cycle imitates the motion of hands lightly squeezing and massaging clothes in a sink, soaks the garments in cold water to gently remove the soap and then slowly tumbles them to extract the water. Rinse and Spin cleans lightly soiled delicate fabrics without soap before tossing them to remove the water. For people with skin sensitivities to detergents, use the Extra Rinse cycle to thoroughly remove all the soap residue from clothes.

Alternate Dryer Settings

To take the edge off newly purchased jeans or soften up a hand-washed scarf or sweater, choose the Air Fluff dryer cycle. This setting is gentler than the knit dryer cycle as it uses no heat at all, just room temperature air to fluff and restore fullness to clothes and linens. Air fluffing dry-cleaned items with a fabric softener sheet removes the smell of dry cleaning fluid from fabrics and gives other dry, previously worn clothes a fresh aroma.

General Fabric Care Tips

Most clothing has washing and drying instructions on tags attached to the inside. Follow the manufacturers’ guidelines to avoid ruining garments. Be especially attentive to guidelines that instruct you to only dry clean items. Follow directives that specifically warn against placing items in dryers as this indicates the garment contains materials that will melt when exposed to heat.