We’ve all seen the dreaded words on the tag before: Dry Clean Only. Maybe you’ve even put a sweater back on the shelf, deciding not to buy it because of the care requirements. But wool, cashmere and other animal fibers are not what they once were. Thanks to increases in technology, there’s new ways of caring for cashmere that don’t require extra time or money. Here’s our best tips for cashmere care.
A bit of background
Cashmere is a fiber that is known for its luxurious, soft feel, and in order to keep it looking that way, it’s important to give your cashmere sweaters they TLC they deserve. Animal fibers have natural oils that create a waxy coating on the surface. This microscopic layer gives cashmere and wool built-in antibacterial qualities, which inhibit the growth of mold, mildew and bacteria. That means cashmere stays fresh after multiple wears and needs laundered less than other fabrics. If you’re looking for an alternative to washing, check out a wool and cashmere spray, that revitalizes garments in between washings.
How to wash cashmere: Dos and Don’ts
Believe it or not, most cashmere can be machine washed. That’s right! Although cashmere care instructions often recommend dry cleaning, there’s down sides to this method (time, cost, and chemicals to name a few). If you’re going to launder your cashmere at home, we suggest using a mesh bag and washing on the delicate or woolen cycle. Products such as The Laundress, offer cleaning supplies for wool and cashmere (We now sell these on our site, too!). However, don’t be tempted to toss cashmere garments in the dryer. This is where shrinking and damage can happen. Instead, lay the sweater flat on a towel and gently roll it up to absorb excess water. Then unroll and let the sweater air dry. Never wring sweaters, as that can cause breakage of fine fibers. Also, avoid fabric softeners, which can leave a thin film on garments, taking away from their natural feel.
Store cashmere the right way
Have you ever put on a sweater and had little bumps stick up on the shoulders? That’s a direct result of hanging sweaters instead of folding them. Sweaters—whether cashmere or other—should always be folded for storage in order to maintain shape. If you’re putting them in a drawer with little airflow, you can add cedar wood chips or moth balls to keep them fresh. On the rare occasion you do need to dry clean a garment, be sure to remove it from the plastic bag once you’re home. A common misconception is that those dry-cleaning bags keep clothing looking and feeling new, but they can actually do the opposite. Instead, use the bags for transport only, and then fold your sweaters onto a shelf during the off months of the year.
How to take care of cashmere to make it last
Cashmere, like other natural fibers, has a tendency to pill, especially in areas of friction like under the arms or at the sides. Pilling instantly makes a sweater look old or drab. But good news! You don’t need to get rid of your favorite sweater just because of some pills. Use a sweater shaver to remove pills from the surface and give your cashmere a facelift. Another tip for longevity is to reshape your sweaters after laundering. When it’s still wet or damp, stretch and shape the sweater back to its original proportions before drying.