HOW TO CARE FOR CASHMERE?
So you did it. You bought your premium quality cashmere made ethically and sustainably, and at a fair price.
Keep in mind the cost per wear – the longer it lasts, the better it offsets the price you paid.
And thanks to your sensible purchase decision, you got yourself a versatile pure cashmere jumper that can be layered up or worn on bare skin all year-round through years. That means lots of wears.
But how to get the most out of this investment, achieving the maximum benefit of the cashmere properties, while prolonging your expensive cashmere’s lifespan and keeping the hassle at a minimum?
Good news is that sticking to a 3 stage practical cashmere care guide will ensure that your cashmere sweater lasts at least for 30 years.
We are going to walk you through this guide right here with easy to follow detailed steps + a bonus tip.
You are about to become a cashmere care expert!
Stage 1 – Routine Maintenance
Cashmere knits absorb and promote fast evaporation of sweat moisture, keeping your body dry while trapping odour particles inside the fibres.
Let your prized cashmere air out for a couple of days, between two consecutive days. Allow your sweat and other odours to proper evaporate before wearing it again. This action will postpone the next washing time.
Abrasion prone areas like underarms or around the shoulder (where the handbag strap goes) may develop pilling.
Remove the fuzz balls whenever needed, using a cashmere comb, lint tape or a brush.
Stage 2 – Laundry
Pure cashmere is odour resistant because of its natural antibacterial properties1, unlike all man-made and cellulose fibres. As such, it inhibits the proliferation of odour-causing bacteria. So as long as you don’t have any accidental spillages, you don’t need to wash it after each wear.
Follow the instructions on each garment’s care label carefully.
Below is the recommended washing method ONLY for 100% cashmere knitted garments (not applicable to woven fabric such as suits, coats or throws):
HAND WASH IN MAX. 30°C
Turn the knit inside out and once washed, follow with a cold rinse.
Use gentle wool wash or baby shampoo.
Knitted garments tend to felt if machine-washed, especially in higher temperatures. Felting is an exclusive characteristic to cashmere and wool, sometimes considered an ‘effect’ rather than a ‘defect’ as seen in dense fabrics structures such as hats, blankets, felts and overcoat materials2.
DO NOT BLEACH
Besides impacting the environment, bleach damages protein fibres, the same way it does to your hair.
DO NOT TUMBLE DRY
Water temperature variation and energetic agitation cause felting and shrinkage to your cashmere piece.
DO NOT WRING
Gently squeeze on a towel to remove excess water. Avoid twisting, rubbing or wringing your cashmere knit otherwise it will deform.
DRY FLAT IN THE SHADE
Carefully re-shape the garment whilst damp and dry flat, out of direct sunlight.
Hanging the sweater on a hanger or line will cause stretching in length, and also result in humps on the shoulders.
Once dry, cashmere recovers the original shape.
Iron in max 110°C
Turn your cashmere jumper inside out before pressing to eliminate wrinkles. For re-shaping, you can lightly steam it on a curved rubber hanger.
Gentle dry clean with PCE only
Spot dry-cleaning with perchloroethylene (also known as tetrachloroethylene) can be performed in case of stains, but hand washing is the best way to preserve all the cashmere fibre properties.
Do not use fabric softener
The contents of the fabric softener include toxic chemical compounds and silicone (derived from petroleum) based agents.
The fabric softener’s function is to create a coat of positively-charged ions on the surface of the fabric that will erect the fibres. This is an undesirable effect when handling cashmere.
Skipping this step in your laundry process will avoid uncontrollable pilling, not to mention that it contributes to minimising harm to your health and to our environment. An alternative is using a bit of white vinegar as a replacement during the rinsing step (although cashmere naturally softens over time).
Stage 3 – Storage
Before you put away your cashmere for an extended period, wash or dry clean it even if there are no visible stains.
Not only because it will eventually become noticeable due to oxidation, but to eliminate traces of hair and skin that can potentially attract female moths.
Quiet places like the fold of your jumper are where these pests lay their eggs. The hatched larvae feed on the keratin of the cashmere fibre, which they find delicious, along with other natural protein fibres.
Take the following steps to avoid moths eggs:
- Hand wash or professionally dry clean your garment.
- Fold rather than hanging it to preserve the shape.
- Put it in a washable and breathable cotton bag. If possible wrap your cashmere in acid-free tissue paper beforehand as it prevents discolouration and dust collection.
- Store it in a drawer, with something that smells foul to them. Female moths can be repelled by strong scents like:
- Bundles or sachets of mixed dry herbs such as lavender, thyme, spearmint, rosemary, bay leaves, cinnamon or cloves – Change every 4 months.
- Cedar balls – Change every 6 months
- Red cedar shavings – Change every 6 months.
- Dry-cleaning chemicals – Up to twice a year.
- Mothballs – avoid those as they stink and contain toxic substances like naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene, which are actually pesticides. Your organic cashmere and your family will thank you.
Whether you found moths in your closet or you just want to give a refreshing boost to your premium cashmere in between washes, freeze for two days enclosed in a plastic bag. The low temperature will kill moth eggs and temporarily neutralise the odour-causing bacteria.
- Dr Patil Kiran Annaso, Deakin University, March 2013, Australia, Fabrication and Applications of Ultrafine Powder from Cashmere Guard Hair (submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy)
- Leeder, J. D. (1984) Wool – nature’s wonder fibre, Ocean Grove, Vic.: Australasian Textiles Publishers