How to Care for Cashmere
There is an old saying with cashmere; it is like a bottle of wine, it’ll only get better with age. However, many people are terrified of buying cashmere because they have no idea how to look after it. Continue reading and let us put your mind at ease.
Caring for cashmere is similar to looking after your own hair; a concept which may be more familiar with the typical women rather than man; we are not about to suggest a 3-in-1 shampoo…
A very simple guide to washing:
1. Hand wash in luke warm (30°C)
2. Do not wring or stretch
3. Roll up in a towel to dry and lay flat
4. Do not hang
5. Do not tumble dry
6. Iron on low with a tea towel between the iron and the garment
Ok, if you are still reading, you’ll obviously want a deeper dive into cashmere care;
So, can you wash cashmere?
Absolutely! You can wash cashmere unless the specific garment has a dry clean only care symbol.
Some people trust their washing machine if it has a ‘hand wash’ cycle, but this is quite risky. There is nothing worse than opening a washing machine and finding a jumper has been shrunk! So, proceed with caution.
Does Washing cashmere cause it to shrink?
As above, washing in a washing machine can indeed cause cashmere to shrink. This is due to the friction of the warm water and the spinning/sloshing around; these actions can also cause the cashmere to felt together - if this happens your garment will come out stiff and you won’t be able to identify the different pieces of thread, it’ll just be one smushed together piece of hard fabric.
Hand washing can have the opposite effect. If you hand wash and you are delicate, you can gently pull the garment and the fibres will stretch; the is because the water molecules have softened the fibres, so you must proceed with caution.
At the end of the day, cashmere is one of the worlds most delicate and sought after fibres, so it deserves a lot of respect and care.
How often should I wash my cashmere?
While washing your cashmere can make it softer, washing it correctly takes a bit of time and effort to do properly so we recommend only washing when the garment needs it; when it starts to smell a bit ‘lived in’. Also, just wearing your garment will loosen the fibres and make it feel softer.
Not washing clothes really helps prolong their lifespan, and it is also more environmentally friendly, so if you are wearing cashmere for the eco friendly reasons, washing less frequently will also give you brownie points from mother nature! If you are interested in this, here is a handy guide from Real Simple about how frequently you should wash your clothes.
Cashmere socks are different - your feet get very sweaty when you wear socks so we recommend washing cashmere socks after every wear!
How to fix a stretch cashmere jumper?
If you’ve loved a cashmere jumper or sweater for a long time, it may have started to become a bit stretched, but fear not - there is a solution!
First, recommend washing the garment following the above simple instructions. Once you have dried the garment (making sure you have pulled it into the desired shape while drying) take a steam iron and gently blast steam on the jumper. When a garment is manufactured, 99% of them are steamed at the end of the process to ‘set’ the size. Steaming your garment now will activate the fibres’ muscle memory and your garment should pull together slightly, returning to its original size. You can delicately pull the garment into shape as the steam sets it but be careful not to burn yourself!
Can cashmere be dry cleaned?
Some cashmere should be dry cleaned rather than washed. For garments like woven scarves, which look silky, if they are washed they can become ‘fussy’. Dry cleaning is then the most suitable type of cleaning. Remember to always check the care labels!
Does Cashmere bobble?
Yes, most cashmere will bobble, or ‘pill’. Pilling is when the individual fibres rub together and form a little knot on the surface.
The pills are usually found on the areas of clothing or linens that receive the most abrasion in day-to-day use, such as center of bed sheets, under the arms of clothes, around the collar and cuffs of a shirt, and between the thighs and on the rear of pants; but can happen anywhere on fabric.
While it is difficult to predict which fabrics will pill, there are some types of fabrics and fibers that are more prone to pilling. Knitted fabrics tend to pill more than woven fabrics because the threads are looser. Fabrics made of long fibers like silk and linen pill less than wool, cotton, polyester, and other synthetic threads. When fibers are mixed in a fabric like a cotton/polyester blend, one fiber is usually much stronger than the other. The weaker fiber will break, knot around to the stronger fiber, and a pill is formed.
Unfortunately, the only way to ensure cashmere does not pill is to either coat it in a synthetic chemical, or knit it together so tightly that it has no wiggle room. However, using a chemical defeats the purpose of using a natural fibre, and knitting the fabric super tight means it will not be very soft. While most cashmere will pill, there is a difference between ‘pilling’ and becoming ‘threadbare’. High quality cashmere will pill in the ‘busy’ areas after the first three wears as the loose fibres come to the surface, and then it shouldn’t pull much after this.
The best way to get rid of a ‘pill’ is to use a cashmere comb. These are specifically designed to gently remove the pill and not leave another blunt end which will result in another pill to form. We do not suggest the electric shavers; this will ruin the integrity of your garment but shaving it threadbare after continuous use.
How to store cashmere?
We recommend folding cashmere, as hanging any natural fibre can cause it to stretch. Also, moths love cashmere so at the end of winter or spring, we suggest you washing the cashmere with cedar cashmere shampoo (so the moths cannot smell it) and then folding it away in a reusable plastic bag like a ziplock or vacuum seal storage bags. Putting a few moth traps around the area can’t hurt as well, there is nothing worse than going to find your fav cashmere jumper and discovering the moths in your house have got at it! And yes, they’ll always choose the most expensive one you own!