I love the look and feel of Cashmere. It has a reputation for being difficult to care for, though. Dry cleaning Cashmere can be pricey. The thing is, Cashmere can be washed. This complete guide will show you how to wash cashmere safely and effectively.
Cashmere is a luxurious wool fabric used to make cozy sweaters. As it’s wool, it can be washed like other wool products. Use cool or cold water and wool-specific cleansers. Gently roll excess water out of the fabric and allow it to dry flat on a towel. Keep cashmere away from the dryer and do not iron.
This complete guide on how to wash cashmere will keep your wool looking fresh and new. Read on to discover how to wash Cashmere without damaging the delicate fabric. Find out if a hand or machine washing is best.
Can You Wash Cashmere?
Yes, you can wash cashmere, but you do have to be extremely careful. The reason you need to take care of cashmere is that it’s wool.
Cashmere is a strong and durable luxury wool from goats, particularly cashmere and pashmina goats. It is expensive to produce and is one of the softest wools in the world. Not only that but, as it’s wool, it’s prone to moth damage and needs a delicate hand in the laundry.
Garments made from cashmere wool tend to be on the pricey side. Considered an investment, cashmere is a luxuriant item that many feel is difficult to care for. Because of this, cashmere has developed a reputation for being dry clean only.
This isn’t necessarily true though. A lot of manufacturers will put “dry clean only”, on the label to be safe. Dry cleaning an item that needs a delicate hand is often thought to be the safest option. Particularly with sensitive fabrics like cashmere or even suede.
However, many designers now believe, rather than being the safest solution, dry cleaning cashmere may be causing more damage. Dry cleaning any garment involves the use of chemicals. These chemicals can cause irreversible damage to wool fibers.
Wool garments, even ones made from Cashmere, may last longer if washed rather than dry cleaned. All you need to do is follow the hints and tips contained in this article and your cashmere will stay looking new and fresh season after season.
How to Hand Wash Cashmere
Hand washing cashmere is relatively straightforward. The fabric is wool though and will behave in the same way as other wools when it gets wet. Follow our step-by-step guide to make sure you hand wash your cashmere safely and effectively.
You will need:
- Basin, sink, or bucket
- Lukewarm water
- Wool shampoo or a specific wool cleanser
Fill a basin, sink, or bucket with lukewarm water. The water level should be deep enough to completely submerge your garment. Water temperature needs to be warm enough not to freeze your fingers, but not too warm. Aim for around the same temperature as your hands.
Following the instructions on the wool shampoo or cleanser, add some to the water. If you don’t have any specific wool cleansers, you can use human shampoo. As cashmere is wool, it’s similar to human hair. However, try to stick to a gentle shampoo, like one designed for babies. These are less likely to have harsh chemicals in them.
Submerge your garment in the bucket, sink, or basin. Using your hands, gently move the garment through the water in a swirling motion. Do this for about 30-40 seconds. Leave the garment completely covered by the water and allow to soak for 30 minutes. Set your timer so you can remove the cashmere from the water as soon as the time has expired.
Drain the garment and rinse with cool, clean water. Resist the temptation to wring the water out. As wool fibers, particularly cashmere, are weaker when wet, any rough squishing will damage the garment. Instead, gently press the garment into a ball shape and push it into the side of the bucket, sink, or basin. The water will be squeezed out without stressing the fibers.
Allow drying naturally. As wool can stretch out of shape when wet, make sure to dry your garment flat. Reshape the garment at regular intervals throughout the drying phase to make sure it keeps its original shape.
How to Machine Wash Cashmere
Machine washing cashmere is slightly more problematic than hand washing. As washing machines can be rougher on fabric than hand washing, you need to take extra care.
You should always ensure your cashmere is washed alone. Any rough garment or clothing with zippers has the potential to damage cashmere when it’s wet.
Although it’s best to hand wash cashmere, it’s possible to use a machine. Read on to find out how to wash cashmere in a machine without damaging the fabric.
You will need:
- Washing machine with a delicate or wool cycle
- Mesh bag
- Wool shampoo or cleanser designed for use in a washing machine
Place your garment inside the mesh bag. This will help protect it while it is in the washing machine drum.
Choose a delicate setting on your washing machine, preferably a wool setting. If you’re not sure your machine has a wool setting, go for a short, cold wash with no spin. Some machines don’t have a ‘no spin’ option, so make sure you choose a low or gentle, minimal spin.
You don’t want any vigorous spinning with cashmere. Too much spinning may cause the wool fibers to felt which would be disastrous. The last thing you need is for your cashmere sweater to come out of the wash looking like a fuzzy-felt shape.
For this method, you will have to use a dedicated machine-specific wool shampoo or cleanser. You can’t use human shampoo as a cleaner in a washing machine. It could end up damaging your machine.
Set your timer so you can remove the cashmere from the machine as soon as the cycle has ended. This is important. Allowing the cashmere garment to remain in the washing machine can lead to damage wool fibers.
Dry your garment flat as hanging on a line or coat hanger can result in your garment stretching out of shape. Reshape the garment at regular intervals as it dries to ensure it retains its original shape.
How to Wash Cashmere Sweater at Home
When it comes to washing your cashmere sweater at home, you need to consider how you will wash it. Do you have the facilities to hand wash, or will you have to use a washing machine?
As mentioned earlier in the article, hand washing is the best method for washing any cashmere garments, but it’s especially important for cashmere sweaters. These are the items that tend to get worn a lot when the weather is cooler. Being close to our bodies, they can soak up sweat, so they may need washing more often.
Washing by hand is best because it is gentle on wet wool fibers. Our hands cannot spin or squeeze fabric with the same intensity as a machine, so the yarn in your cashmere sweater won’t end up crushed.
Machine washing cashmere sweaters is perfectly fine. However, you need to take extra care as machines are rougher and can cause more damage to wool fabrics. Following the tips mentioned in hand and machine washing sections above will ensure your cashmere sweater survives the wash.
How to Get Stains Out of Cashmere
Cashmere is expensive to buy, so you want to keep it looking good for as long as possible. The best way to do that is not to panic when you see a stain. Getting stains out of cashmere is no more tricky than any other wool. Stay calm and follow our step-by-step guide on how to get stains out of cashmere.
You will need:
- Mild shampoo
- Stain remover
- Dish detergent
- Soft cloth
- Cold water
Don’t be tempted to scrub, rub or scratch at the stain. This will damage the wool fibers in your garment. A light hand is the key to removing stains from cashmere. First of all, try to identify what caused the stain. Common culprits are makeup, grease, chocolate, and alcohol.
For fat or grease-based stains, try to blot as much of the excess fat as you can. You can use a soft tissue or cloth for this. Apply stain remover or a mild shampoo to the stained area and then wash as soon as possible. You can either hand wash or machine wash using the steps listed previously in this article.
If your stain is a beverage like red wine or coffee, you’ll need to use a mixture of cold water and dish detergent. A gentle detergent like Dawn is ideal for this. Apply the mixture to the stain and massage it into the fibers of the garment. Then wash by hand or machine as soon as you can.
Avoid applying machine detergent or hand soap directly to any stain on cashmere, as both solutions can set the stain rather than help lift it out of the fabric.
How to Dry Cashmere
The key to drying cashmere is remembering its wool. Never put your cashmere garment in a dryer! Wool and dryers do not play well together. Your prized cashmere sweater will shrink, which could be great for your toddler when they get a nice new garment. Not so great for you or your pocket when you have to buy yourself a replacement.
There’s only one safe way to dry cashmere and that’s naturally. As it’s wool, the weight of the water will make it stretch out of shape if you line dry or hang it on a hanger. Always air dry cashmere flat. You need to lay it on either a drying rack or a clean towel. Make sure you check it regularly as it dries and reshape as necessary while it’s still damp.
If flat surfaces are scarce in your home, you can still air dry your cashmere safely. All you need to do is grab a clean towel and roll your garment up in it. The towel will soak up the water, removing it from the cashmere. Check the garment every so often, replacing the towel with a dry one as needed.
How Often Should You Wash Cashmere?
Not as often as you think you should. One of the problems with washing cashmere, or even dry cleaning it is, the laundry process damages the wool fibers.
If you launder your cashmere sweater after every wear, you could be shortening its lifespan significantly. Not only that, but every time you take it to be dry cleaned, you are increasing the risk of irreversible damage from chemicals.
As a rule of thumb, cashmere should always be washed at the end of the cold weather season. Before you pack it away for the next winter, always wash it or have it dry cleaned. The reason for this, it gets rid of body odors and will be less attractive to moths.
Depending on how often you wear the cashmere throughout the season, the number of times it will need a wash will differ. If you only wear it twice, then washing before you pack it away should be ample. Wearing it six or seven times through the season may require you to wash it more often.
Another thing to consider, if you wear your cashmere over the top of a shirt or blouse, you’ll find the sleeves and collars of the undergarments will soak up any perspiration before it reaches the cashmere. Knowing this will help you wash your cashmere less.
Smelly or Stained Cashmere
If your cashmere is smelly or has been stained, you are going to need to wash it. Treat the stains first and then either hand or machine wash the garment whenever it is visibly dirty.
Although it isn’t always possible to avoid stains, you can reduce the risk of smells. Simply airing your cashmere after wearing will work wonders to remove any nasty odors.
Grab a padded coat hanger and pop your sweater on a door handle for an hour before putting it away. It’s OK to do this as long as the cashmere is dry and it’s only for a short space of time. Avoid clothes pins though as these can pinch the cashmere and damage it.
Can You Iron Cashmere?
It’s best to avoid the iron when it comes to cashmere. An iron will crush the fibers in the garment and the heat can be detrimental to wool. Although it doesn’t melt or catch fire if you use an iron on it, the heat, even on a low setting, can scorch the fabric.
If you need to remove wrinkles from your cashmere, the best way to do it is to use a steamer or a steam iron. Hold your steam iron above your garment and using the steam button, gently waft steam across the surface of the clothing. The wrinkles will drop out like magic. Make sure to keep the iron base well away from the cashmere, though. You don’t want to touch the wool at all.
The great thing about steam, it will also help refresh your cashmere between washes. Steam not only kills germs and bacteria but also fluffs up the wool fibers.
Should You Hang or Fold Your Cashmere Sweaters?
For best results, always fold your cashmere sweater. Hangers can distort cashmere fabric and can leave marks on the shoulders. Although a short stint on a hanger is OK, if your sweater will be in the closet for any length of time, you need to fold it and store it flat.
For storage between seasons, or long-term storage, you should fold your cashmere into cotton storage bags. The great thing about cotton is bugs, especially moths, can’t eat through it, so it helps protect your cashmere from pest damage.
Unlike plastic storage solutions, which can sweat, cotton breathes and absorbs moisture. By using cotton, you can keep your cashmere sweater free from damp caused by packaging. This will help prevent mildew and mold building up in the wool while it’s stored.
Knowing cashmere is washable will save you a fortune in dry cleaning bills. It will also help you reduce the damage caused to cashmere by dry cleaning chemicals. Following the tips in this article will help you keep your cashmere in top condition for years to come.
Let me know in the comments if you liked the article. Have you washed your cashmere? How did you get on?