How to Care for Cashmere

This gorgeously soft and luscious fabric has a reputation for being one of those expensive materials that is hard to care for. Though people love the thought of owning cashmere, they avoid it for fear of the costs of dry cleaning and caring for it.

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This preconception isn’t necessarily true, and no, you don’t have to take it to the dry cleaners every time you get a tiny stain. It’s actually pretty simple to care for it yourself at home, and I’m sure we all appreciate some advice that doesn’t require leaving the house too often.

Can I Wash it at Home?

The answer to this big question is: Yes! Of course you can, and it’s really easy to wash it. If you must put it in the washing machine for any reason at all, you must put it in a cold wash, with no heat whatsoever. Make sure that it is also on the lowest spin cycle setting, to avoid the fabric potentially tearing.

If you put it in a wash with anything hotter than cool water, you will run the risk of damaging the fibers. Cashmere is a natural fiber derived from the wool of Gobi goats, so as a natural fiber, heat will damage the maintained fabric containing natural oils and air pockets, causing it to shrink indefinitely.

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If the damage was done in lukewarm water, you could try to partially reverse this by hand washing it again in cool water, and drying it on a flat surface. Then, gently pull the fabric out until it looks about the right size again. However, there’s no guarantee that this will work at all, so try at all costs to avoid this accident.

I would advise hand washing it and soaking the cashmere for no longer than 30 minutes. Fill a basin with cold water and put only the one item you want to wash. Add a delicate detergent specified for wool and silk, which can be bought at most supermarkets, and apply the recommended amount. I’ve personally used a small amount of normal non bio laundry liquid with a lovely fragrance, and it’s worked perfectly fine on my cashmere.

When it’s soaked, rinse it in cold clean water, lightly squeeze out the excess water and lay it on a flat surface with a towel under it. Do not put it on a hanger, or the part of the garment touching the hanger will be left with marks where the fabric’s stretched while hanging.

Drying

Cashmere is similar to wool, in that it is natural animal fur. Because of this, you must avoid extreme heat when applying drying practices.

Do not put it in the tumble dryer, as it can cause the fabric shape to change for the worse. If you want to maintain it’s current size and beauty, you must let it air dry.

Make sure that the position it’s laid out in is nice and flat, with no opportunities to cause creases. Because the last thing you want is to have to apply more heat to straighten it out.

Hang it up in Fresh Air

So between wears, its not always necessary to throw it in the wash. If it doesn’t smell bad yet, or even if there’s light odors, hang it up outside or close to a window. Like wool, it has some self cleaning properties that mean if you hang it in fresh air with sun light, it will be ready for another use again.

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So don’t always feel the need to wash it once you’ve worn it, save some water and use it again.

Storage

Now as we’ve talked about, hanging up cashmere is generally not a good idea. This is because the fabric is prone to stretching when the pressure of the garment is place upon a small part of the hanger. The only cashmere I would place on the hanger is probably my scarves.

The best method of storage if definitely anywhere that can keep it folded up safely. So shelving units, or shelves inside a wardrobe is a good idea. Even a chest of drawers will be enough to safely store those knits, since there’s no pressure being put on your clothes that could damage it long term.

As with any natural knits, you must be careful of small pests, such as moths. If it’s stored with too much exposure and a lack consistent vacuum cleaning (guilty over here), then yes, you could have moths not only live around you garments, but feeding off them too. And that’s where those holes mysteriously pop up in your clothes.

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To prevent this, you could of course use moth balls. They have an unpleasant odor that repels moths, and this will keep your clothes moth-free. Or if you hate moth balls like me, then you’ll like this one better.

I use lavender picked straight off plants to repel it. You can even buy little sachet bags online, but if you place one in each section your clothes are stored, you can save them from being completely devoured.

Bobbles

So after you’ve worn your cashmere for a while, you’ll notice that the fabric starts to form little balls on the surface. This is very normal when you’ve used it a lot, and its not a sign of poor quality. Wool can do this too after a while, so there are 2 options I suggest will work for these.

You can purchase a specific machine online for this, called a de-bobbler. You can find inexpensive ones on Amazon, and all they do is take the bobbles off the surface, leaving your cashmere looking as good as new

The second one, which I do, is using a used, blunt razor. I’ve made sure that it’s clean, not rusty and dry, and this is just as good at taking out bobbles. You do have to be careful to shave gently, or you might accidentally cut a hole in your clothes, and you don’t want to do that!

So there are always methods to maintain and look after cashmere at home. It doesn’t always have to require professional dry cleaning, just as long as you give it gentle care at home.

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