How to Wash Cashmere: A Guide to Caring for Fine Knits
Cashmere sweaters, scarves, and accessories add luxurious softness to any wardrobe. But how should these delicate knits be cleaned? Read on for specialized techniques to wash cashmere safely at home.
What Makes Cashmere Special?
Cashmere comes from the incredibly soft undercoat of cashmere goats. Their winter fleece is combed or gathered by hand during molting season. Due to the extensive labor, cashmere commands higher prices than sheep wool. Here are its unique properties:
Rare Luxury Fibers
The downy fibers are very scarce, found only in the Himalayan region originally. It takes combing 4 goats to make one cashmere sweater.
The gently curving fibers create a silky, fluffy texture unmatched by traditional wool.
Cashmere traps heat without heaviness or itchiness, making it ideal for cool weather layering.
The fibers readily soak up dyes resulting in rich, saturated cashmere textile colors.
Susceptible to Damage
The same tiny size and delicate texture that create softness also make cashmere prone to damage from improper care.
With special handling, cashmere provides unparalleled comfort and luxury.
Risks of Machine Washing Cashmere
Since cashmere is so delicate, take care when cleaning:
The agitation of washing machines irreversibly tangles and mats down cashmere fibers causing garments to shrink.
When cashmere rubs against itself and other fabrics in the washer, pills form on the fuzzy surface.
The jostling motion causes vibrant dyes to run and transfer onto other clothes in the same wash load.
Heat, detergent, and agitation during washing and drying causes cashmere to permanently felt into a thick, matted fabric.
Loss of Shape
Improper machine drying results in misshapen, asymmetrical garments as the knit loses its form.
To retain its luxury status, cashmere requires very gentle care.
Hand Washing Cashmere at Home
Given the risks, cashmere must be hand washed delicately:
Large sink or basin
2-3 tbsp. mild baby shampoo
Cashmere comb or brush
Sweater drying rack or net
Fill sink with cool water and swish in baby shampoo. Never use hot water.
Submerge item gently. Do not agitate, twist, or scrub. Allow to soak briefly.
Drain dirty water, then refill sink with clean cool water. Rinse thoroughly until all soap residues are gone.
Wrap in towel and gently press to absorb moisture. Do not wring, squeeze or twist.
Lay flat on towel and reshape garment back to original dimensions. Allow to fully air dry.
Use a comb to lift and fluff up the fine fibers once dry.
With proper methods, cashmere can be safely hand washed at home.
Additional Cashmere Cleaning Tips
Apply these strategies to keep cashmere looking its best:
Only wash when visibly soiled. Overwashing deteriorates delicate fibers.
Line dry in shade – direct sunlight fades dyes. Indoors prevents lint and dust.
Invest in mesh garment bags – these protect cashmere in the sink from excessive stretching and abrasion.
Store folded in breathable boxes or chests – avoid hanging to prevent stretching fibers.
Use cedar blocks in storage to repel moths who like to feast on fine wools.
Steam gently between wears to smooth out wrinkles and remove odors. Avoid excess heat.
With diligent care, cashmere pieces will last for many years.
Warning Signs It’s Time to Wash Cashmere
Only launder when cashmere shows:
Sheen loss from dirt buildup
Pilling from dirt and oils
Shrinkage at seams
Loss of fluffiness
Wash as needed based on wear and soiling.
Drying Cashmere After Hand Washing
Gently squeeze out water and dry cashmere flat as follows:
Method 1: Lying Flat
Arrange garment flat on top of a dry towel
Smooth and gently stretch back into shape
Allow to fully air dry out of direct sunlight
Method 2: Blocking
Cover a sweater drying rack with a clean towel
Pin garment pieces into shape on the rack
Allow to dry fully stretched into form
Method 3: Drying Net
Place over a sink or tub
Lay garment over net, gently tugging into proper proportions
Leave to dry suspended this way
Air drying prevents heat damage to fine fibers.
Cashmere Washing FAQs
Here are some common cashmere cleaning questions:
Can you put cashmere in the washing machine?
Never, even on delicate cycle. Cashmere should always be hand washed to avoid felting and shrinkage.
How do you remove pills from cashmere?
Use a cashmere comb or de-piller tool. Avoid razors or cutters which can damage the fibers. For bad pilling, seek professional depilling.
Does cashmere have to be dry cleaned?
Dry cleaning is harsher on cashmere than hand washing. Reserve dry cleaning only for severe, set-in stains.
Can you wash cashmere in Woolite?
Avoid detergents like Woolite which are too harsh. Use only specially formulated cashmere or baby shampoo.
How do you soften rough cashmere?
Wash with hair conditioner or vinegar, then rinse well. Weight down fibers while damp to relax them. Use a cashmere stone to smooth fibers.
How do you get makeup out of cashmere?
Dab warm water on the stain repeatedly. Use a drop of mild soap if needed. Avoid vigorously rubbing the area.