There are several hard life lessons we all have to learn by experience. Removing scratches from your glasses with the wrong tools will probably result in more scratches. Cleaning your shower curtain is more important than you think. Lastly, washing cashmere at home in the washing machine without taking extra precautions is almost guaranteed to end in a ruined sweater, or two.
Cashmere, while being deliciously soft and sophisticated AF, is also a finicky fabric when it comes to getting clean. However, let’s clarify something right off the bat. You do NOT have to professionally dry clean cashmere sweaters, or any piece of cashmere clothing for that matter. You can clean your cashmere belongings at home successfully, you just have to follow a few extra steps.
Why is Cashmere so Hard to Clean?
Cashmere is a delicate yarn made from goats’ fur which gets fluffier and more lustrous when cleaned, much like human hair. However, it’s also very sensitive to water and heat, and can shrink easily if exposed to a drastic temperature fluctuation.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually worse for cashmere in the long run to frequently dry clean it, because the harsh chemicals used at the cleaners can shorten its life and affect the quality of the fabric over time. It’s better to hand wash your cashmere at home, if you can.
How to Hand Wash Cashmere
When it comes to safeguarding fabrics and washing clothes in the gentlest way possible, hand washing is the way to go.
What You’ll Need:
- A sink or bathtub filled with lukewarm water
- Some type of gentle cashmere shampoo, or hair shampoo
- A drying rack
- A cashmere brush
Fill up a bathtub or sink with lukewarm water and add a couple pumps of a cashmere shampoo, gentle no-wash laundry detergent or even baby shampoo to get the water nice and soapy. Let the clothing soak for five minutes or so and then rise with cool water. Here are a few brands of soap we recommend for this step.
The Laundress Wool & Cashmere Shampoo
The Laundress makes a great laundry shampoo designed specifically for cashmere and wool, which both use the same detergents since they’re both hair. This one works on all cashmere, wool and merino blends, and is formulated to replace the tender care of a dry cleaner. It’s made with eco-friendly, plant-based materials and is designed to preserve woolens for as long as possible. It’s got a fresh cedar scent and is made to extend the life of all garments.
Knit IQ No Rinse Delicate Wash Liquid Detergent
Another option, besides a shampoo specifically made for cashmere, is a no-rinse detergent like this one that’s great for knitted and crocheted clothing of all kinds. It’s formulated to preserve natural fibers and keep them feeling soft, and it’s got a no-rinse formula so your delicates don’t lose their shape. The pump bottle makes it easy to measure just the right amount, and each bottle comes with at least 100 washes inside.
Soakwash Liquid Laundry Wash
This is another fragrance-free, phosphate and sulfate-free liquid laundry wash made for fabrics of all kinds. It’s got a gentle, no-rinse formula for keeping delicate fabrics soft and looking their best. You can use it to hand wash or machine wash, and only requires a soak and a squeeze to work its magic. It’s also made with plant-based ingredients, and every bottle comes with at least 75 washes inside.
How to Dry Cashmere
After a good soak and rinse, avoid the inclination to wring out your clothing. The fibers of the yarn are wet, and therefore are weaker. A tough wringing out could result in disfigurement or affect the shape, so it’s better to ball up the fabric and squeeze it out that way. Avoid pulling, stretching or lengthening out in this phase.
You can also use a towel roll-up method, where you place the sweater on top of a towel and roll it up lengthwise, squeezing out the water in the process. Above all, avoid wringing out your cashmere if you can.
After handwashing your cashmere, you’ll want to lay it out flat to dry in the shape you’d like it to stay in. Don’t hang it to dry or it’ll stretch and lose its shape. If you’ve got a flat drying rack, you can use that, otherwise lay out a towel and let it dry slowly.
OXO Good Grips Folding Sweater Drying Rack
This mesh drying rack surface is large enough to spread out big sweaters, t-shirts, scarves and other cashmere goods. It’s built for fast drying with proper air circulation and the legs are offset to it can fit on top of countertops and washing machines easily. You can easily stack them on top of each other for secure drying, and the materials used to make it are PVC free.
STORAGE MANIAC Sweater Drying Rack
This four-tier drying rack is another great option for laying sweaters flat with plenty of air circulation. Each one measures roughly 30 inches by 30 inches, and is made with reinforced piping along the side to keep everything stable. The mesh design won’t scratch or stain your clothing and they’re stackable, so you can put them on top of the washing machine or dryer easily.
How to Wash Cashmere in the Washing Machine
While hand washing is definitely the preferred method, you can also use the washing machine to cleanse your cashmere fabrics if you’d like. For best results, place the item of clothing in a mesh washing bag for protection and wash it on a delicates cycle with a dye-free detergent. If you’ve got other customizable settings, make sure the water is cold and the spin rate is as low as possible.
The goal is to avoid agitation, as agitation can shrink or manipulate the fabric in ways you don’t want. If the cycle is as gentle and close to hand washing as possible, you should be okay.
Also, avoid leaving the item of clothing in the machine for a long time after the cycle is over. Remove it promptly and lay it flat to dry using the tips above to avoid extraneous creasing.
BAGAIL Store Mesh Laundry Bags
Mesh laundry bags are helpful to have around for washing all sorts of delicates, as they protect clothing from getting snagged on other things and too agitated. These are made of durable, breathable polyester material and come in a variety of sized for different clothing. They’re also a #1 best seller on Amazon and have a 4.7-star rating after 52,000 reviews.
How to Treat Stains on Cashmere Clothing
The key here is to not rub, dab or scrub too vigorously to get that dab of mustard out of the sweater. This could disrupt the weave of the fabric and/or leave you with an even worse stain. Gently massage in a stain remover before the next wash, and then let the stain lift from the fibers during the next cleansing cycle.
The Laundress Unscented Stain Solution
Just a few drops of this liquid stain remover is formulated to gently lift old and new stains from cashmere and other delicate fabrics. Protein or tannin-based stains from things like coffee, tea, ink, blood, urine and wine are covered, and it’s safe to use on all colors and fabrics. It’s made of eco-friendly, plant-based materials and is free from additives, fillers and dyes.
How Often Should You Wash Cashmere? (And How to Take Care of It Between Wears and Washes)
Thankfully, cashmere doesn’t need to be washed as frequently as other materials. Once every 10 wears should be good, and/or at the end of the fall and winter season when it’s probably getting more use.
You can also grab a boar-bristle cashmere brush for lighting removing fuzz, dirt and little stains between washes. Fold your cashmere sweaters, rather than hanging them, so they don’t stretch and lose their shape. Also, if you’re storing it away for the summer season, place it in an airtight container with cedar wood chips to prevent moths from disrupting the fabric.
Comfy Clothiers Cedar Wood Cashmere Comb
This fine wool comb is made for rejuvenating cashmere sweaters between washes and wears, by removing pilling in just a few minutes. It’s got a cedar wood handle that makes maneuvering it across the fabric easy. It also emits a wonderful, pleasant aroma and is a convenient size for storage and traveling.
Old City Unltd. Lint Remover Boar Bristle Brush
This boar bristle brush is perfect for using to lightly brush up cashmere sweaters and remove pilling, stains and other tarnishes between washes. It’s perfect for delicate fabrics, yarns, nubuck or suede shoes and even velvet upholstery as well. Run a fine tooth comb through it to keep it clean and it’ll last for years to come.