Cleaning Tips, Guides & Resources
Everything You Need to Know About Washing & Drying Cashmere at Home
If you've ever worn cashmere, you'd know it is a beautifully soft and luxurious material. The fibres for the material, obtained from cashmere or pashmina goats found in Central Asia, are woven and produced as Cashmere Wool - one of the most desirable materials in the fashion industry.
Since it is a relatively expensive type of wool due to its more premium characteristics, one ought to be extra careful when it comes to cleaning the material. It is highly recommended that you stick to the wash care label instructions provided on the tag.
For materials like cashmere, the odds of the fabric taking extensive damage from washing at home, as opposed to dry-cleaning, is much higher. This is purely because people tend to be a little negligent, or are just unaware, and accidentally wash these delicate fabrics the wrong way. Therefore, it is definitely worth learning how to wash cashmere correctly to prevent damaging the material.
Of course, if you choose not to attempt a cleaning method yourself, you can opt to have your cashmere professionally dry-cleaned. With that said, dry-cleaning tends to strip fabrics of their natural oils, and make them brittle over time, thereby shortening the lifespan. Hence, if you don't mind taking a little extra effort, you can avoid this (as well as the dry-cleaning cost), and wash your cashmere at home.
How Often Should You Wash Your Cashmere?
Before we get into the washing process itself, knowing how often you ought to wash the fabric helps immensely as well. While it boils down to personal preference, washing or dry-cleaning after every use may actually cause more harm than good. If you're not using the fabric for an extended period, you can afford to wash it after every 7-8 uses. On the other hand, if you had been sweating while wearing it, or the fabric was exposed to dust and dirt, you should consider washing before using it again. Besides this, if the cashmere item is seasonal, consider washing it when you take it out at the start of the season, and just before you put it back into storage.
How to Wash Cashmere (and Any Other Wool)
With that out of the way, let's get right into the process. Regardless of the wool in question, it can be washed using the same process described below.
Pre-Wash Stain Treatment
When it comes to cashmere, dabbing it aggressively or attempting to brush dirt off could actually be worse for the fabric. If you're not careful, it can even leave an impression or cause damage to the weave.
The appropriate way to deal with stains on cashmere is as follows:
- Take the fabric, and very gently, work a mild stain-remover onto the stain. You can do this by applying the stain-remover onto the fabric with a cotton swab. This allows the remover to activate and begin dismantling the stain before you rinse the dirt out of it later in the wash.
- As far as possible, address the stain immediately, and stick to the instructions on the label of the stain-remover. If no duration has been mentioned for the remover, consider leaving it in the fabric for about 20-30 minutes before washing.
How to Wash Cashmere by Hand
Now that you've spot-treated the stains, let's look at washing away the dirt. The best way to wash cashmere, or any wool really, is to hand-wash it as gently as possible.
To do that, here are the steps to follow:
- Begin by filling a tub or a sink with cold or lukewarm water. Never use hot water as this weakens the fibres, potentially causing damage in the wash.
- Next, add a mild detergent to the water. It is recommended to use a dedicated cashmere shampoo, however, if you don’t have one, you may substitute it with a regular, but mild, hair shampoo.
- At this point, you must add your fabric to the water. If you are washing more than one cashmere item, ensure that you are adding only similar or single colours per wash, as dyes may run and ruin your garments. Push the material into the water to submerge it well, thus allowing the detergent to get into the weave and pull out dirt.
- Once you've added it to the water, begin swirling the material around to loosen up the stains into the water. Do this for about 30 seconds before allowing the fabric to soak in this soapy solution for about 20 minutes. If you can swirl the cloth around again every few minutes during the soak, it will help to draw out more dirt.
- Once done with the wash and soak, it's time to rinse. Drain out the dirty water, and proceed to add cold water to the tub or sink (after rinsing the interior). Swirl the cloth around to allow clean water to pass through the material. For a thorough rinse, repeat this step once more.
How to Wash Cashmere in a Washing Machine
Before we proceed to drying, you should know that your cashmere can be machine-washed as well. The process is similar to hand-washing the material with some added dos and don’ts to keep in mind.
Here is how to safely wash cashmere in a washing machine:
- Choose a mild detergent and use cold water for the wash.
- It is advisable to place cashmere into a large enough mesh bag before loading it into the machine. This will help protect the fabric as it gets tossed around in the wash.
- Don’t forget to set your machine to the coldest temperature, and run the wash on the most delicate or gentle cycle. This ensures a thorough, yet safe, wash (just like the hand-washing method).
How to Dry Cashmere
Like the washing process, drying cashmere must be done correctly to prevent damage.
Here are some crucial tips to follow for the gentlest and most recommended way to dry cashmere after washing it:
- Avoid wringing out wool of any kind. Remember, when the fabric is wet, it is weakened; therefore, doing this causes permanent damage to the fibres and disfigures the cloth.
- Once the wash is done, evenly squeeze the fabric into a ball to compress, but not stretch, the material. This removes excess water without doing any damage to the weave.
- Then, place the cloth onto a towel on a flat surface. When you do this, ensure the cashmere is laid out in its original shape so that it retains the same shape as it dries.
- You may then proceed to slowly roll the towel up with the cashmere inside it. This creates a bit of pressure without damaging the material, and can remove most of the water effectively.
- Once done, unroll the towel, and place the cashmere out on a new, dry towel to allow it to fully air-dry. Avoid leaving it in direct sunlight as this can expand the fibres to the point where they cannot return to their original shape.
- Ensure that the material is completely dry before storing it away.
How to Store Cashmere
Learning how to store your cashmere properly is just as important as knowing the right ways to wash and dry the wool. This is especially true because most cashmere sweaters and coats are worn during the winter, and then put away for the rest of the year.
Now, long-term storage of cashmere comes with a few important rules that one must follow in order to preserve the fibres and overall garment.
Let’s take a look at these crucial dos and don’ts to store your precious cashmere properly.
#1 Fold, Don’t Hang
Although hanging may seem like a space-saving option when you have a typically bulky cashmere coat or sweater, it is definitely not favourable for the textile. While the fibres of cashmere are, in fact, strong and durable, hanging the garment for a long period of time can stretch and loosen the yarn due to the weight of the material. For this reason, folding is the preferred method to ensure that your cashmere remains undamaged during long-term storage. Depending on the type of clothing item it is, consider keeping it as flat as possible by giving it no more than 3 folds.
#2 Place in Breathable Garment Bags
Yes, you will need a little more storage space after putting your cashmere clothing into garment bags, however, it is imperative to do so in order to keep the textile protected from moths, insects, dust, etc. Use zippered garment bags with a breathable material so that moisture does not get trapped inside the bag (which can cause irreparable damage to cashmere).
#3 Store with Cedar & Lavender
If you didn’t already know, cedar repels moths which is why cashmere is commonly stored in chests or cupboards made from this type of wood. Of course, for those who don’t own a cedar storage unit, the next best thing is cedar balls or blocks. These moth deterrents can be placed in the corners of shelves where your zipped up cashmere is stored. In addition to cedar balls or blocks, the scent of lavender also repels moths, and is great for an overall pleasant-smelling wardrobe. Just be sure to freshen up these moth repellents every season.
#4 Air Out Occasionally
Just because you’ve stored your cashmere garments in breathable bags, that doesn’t mean they don’t need to be aired out from time to time. Wool textiles like pashmina or cashmere can become musty and mouldy if kept stored in a confined space for too long; therefore, we advise taking out the garment once in 3-4 months, and allowing it to breathe for a day or two before putting it back in storage. This also gives you a chance to inspect the material, and ensure that your efforts to store cashmere appropriately have not gone in vain!
Now that you are privy to this important information, you should have no problem washing your cashmere at home. Just be sure to stick to the wash care instructions on the label, and strictly follow the steps mentioned in the cleaning methods above.
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