Cleaning cashmere is very easy. You just have to know where the limits and boundaries are and that’s all, your fabric will keep its soft and silky finish.
To clean a cashmere sweater, follow the steps below
- Check the care label to determine if the cashmere can be machine or hand washed.
- If it can be machine washed, use cold water, wool cycle and a cashmere detergent.
- Avoid the dryer and lay flat on a clothes rack to dry.
- If it can be hand washed, soak it in a solution of cashmere friendly detergent and cold water and let it sit for about 20 minutes.
- Rinse and lay flat to dry.
The instructions above are the skeleton of the procedures that come below. Read on to learn how to properly clean a cashmere sweater by hand or using a washing machine.
How To Clean Cashmere By Hand And Using Washer
Check the care label
Before washing any cashmere sweater, it’s always a good idea to check the care label. And this doesn’t just apply to cashmere sweaters, but to all cashmere products as well as other clothing materials.
By checking the care label, you’ll get the proper instructions on how to best care for that fabric. It may be machine washable, it may be only dry cleanable, it may not even be machine or hand washable, and so on and so forth. It’s only by going through the fabric care label will you be able to get informed on these instructions.
The fabric care label is typically printed and attached permanently on the body back part close to the neck region or the seam on the sides of the body. It can also be printed on a card (meant to be removed) that comes with the fabric when you buy it new.
Check the percentage of cashmere you have
When you check the care label, it’s always a good idea to know the percentage of cashmere you have in there. Not all cashmere products are 100% cashmere. And in case you’re wondering why that is important, it’s because that can help you know how flexible your fabric can get.
With 100% cashmere, you have very cramped flexibility. However, if you have a blended product like a sweater made from cotton and cashmere, then the fabrics overall delicate nature reduces, and you can get away with subjecting the entire fabric to the wash settings of the most sturdy fabric in the blend (that is if it’s close to or make up more than 50% of the blend).
Next thing you want to do after checking the fabric care tag of your cashmere sweater, is to inspect for stains on it and treat them. Cashmere sweaters will pick up stains from time to time, and the best way to tackle stains on cashmere is as they form.
Run the fresh stain under cold water to remove as much of it as possible. If there is a solid attached, use the blunt edge of a knife to scrape it off. After that, make a solution of cashmere cleanser and cold water and swish to incorporate everything. Soak the garment in the solution for as long as 20 minutes, depending on the severity of the stain, and then take the garment out for some touching.
Dab the stained spot with a cotton ball moistened with a much concentrated solution of water and cashmere cleanser. Keep dabbing gently until most of it comes off from the fabric and transfers onto the cotton swab.
Then launder the cloth in the washer using the technique we’ll mention below.
If you don’t have a cashmere cleanser, use a baby shampoo or a mild detergent instead. Create a similar solution and soak the cloth in it. Do not scrub as that would cause distortion in the shape of the fabric.
Let the fabric soak for no longer than 15 minutes and then take it out from the water and roll it up into a ball. Squeeze it against the sides of the bucket to remove moisture and then launder.
Take heavy stains to the dry cleaners
When the stain on the cashmere is too pronounced or you are not able to remove it using the instructions outlined above, it’s best to take it to the dry cleaners or fabric stain removers since they have perfect knowledge of how to treat different kind of stains that form on different kinds of fabrics without causing damage to the fabric.
Wash by hand
Hand washing cashmere is very easy, though not recommended. Hand washing is not recommended because it applies an uneven amount of pressure from agitation to different spots on the cloth, unlike the washer which applies a more even agitation to your clothes. With hand washing, one area may be subjected to too much pressure and the other to too little, and at the end of the day, you have a fabric that is distorted in shape.
If you must hand wash, rely more on soaking than scrubbing to do the cleaning. Soak the cloth in a solution of mild detergent and water. You can let it sit for upto 15 minutes, but no longer than that, as the fabric can absorb water more than its weight and become distorted.
Take the cloth a quarter way out of the bucket and swish and swirl it in the sudsy water to release soils. Roll up the cloth to form a ball and press it against the sides of the bucket to remove water from it. This is better than wringing because wringing distorts and destroys the shape of cashmere.
Replace the sudsy water with a clean water and repeat the swishing and swirling to remove suds and soil. Due to the detergent concentration gradient between the fresh water and the cloth, you’ll have more soil-carrying-detergent removed from the cloth and into the freshwater. That’s why it’s always advised to use fresh water when rinsing garments.
When you’re done swishing and swirling, do the roll up thing again and transfer the cloth flat onto a dry towel, roll up the towel to remove excess moisture remaining in the fabric, then transfer the cloth to a clothes rack to dry in a shaded area that is well ventilated.
Wash by machine
In the washer, because it’s easy to agitate more, which goes against the rule of washing cashmere, it’s best to opt for the wool cycle or delicate cycle of the washer.
These cycles offer low agitation and low-spin speed cycles for garments which is why they are best suited for sensitive fabrics like cashmere. Make sure the water temperature isn’t warm but cold. There’s no issue with pouring hot boiling water on wool, but make sure it’s not moving or in motion, otherwise it WILL distort!
Additionally, if you have a pretty expensive piece of cashmere, it would be of great benefit if you put the fabric into a mesh bag for protection. You never fully know what can happen in the washer.
When it comes to the kind of detergent to use on your cashmere sweater, use only those tagged as “delicate” or “suitable to use on cashmere”.
When the wash session is over, take out the semi-dried sweater and lay it out flat on a clothes rack to dry. Never hang it to dry otherwise the temporary weight of the fabric (with water) will cause it to lose shape when it dries.
Avoid fabric softeners for cashmere
Fabric softeners do more harm than good to cashmere. They coat in between the weaves of fabrics and reduce its breathability as well as its ability to control moisture and temperature. Cashmere coated with fabric softener will also pill more easily.
Avoid chlorine bleach
No matter how dirty your white cashmere is, avoid using bleach on it. Beach destroys natural fibers by dissolving them. You can, however, put oxygen or a non-chlorine bleach on wool to treat stains on it. But still, check the care label first to make sure you’re on the right track.
Cashmere is best dried outside in a shaded area and away from sunlight. Use a clothes rack to support the cloth and make sure to lay it out flat and reshape it to protect the original structure. Do not hang cashmere from a spot as the weight of water absorbed by the fibers will cause it to distort.
Putting cashmere in the dryer will cause it to shrink, especially when it’s high heat, so also leaving it directly under the sun to dry. It can even begin to “yellow” in addition to that.
Take cashmere sweaters or garments that say “dry clean only” to the dry cleaners
It’s very common to find cashmere products with the “dry clean only tag” slapped on them. If you have this specific type of cashmere, always heed to the instructions and take it to the dry cleaners, or a specialty fabric cleaner.
Avoid DIY’s or experiments as it can end up damaging some of the components of your cloth. Check this guide to see what can go wrong with washing a “dry clean only” cashmere.
Cleaning your favorite cashmere sweater is an easy task. Make sure you’re reading the care label attached somewhere on the clothes for instructions.
Follow the instructions diligently and make sure they override any instructions that go against them, even the ones you read here.
When cleaning a cashmere sweater, the safest route is to opt for the most delicate cycle on your washer and use cold water. When it comes to detergent, use those specially designed for use on cashmere, or those labeled as delicate or “safe on cashmere”.
Do this and your cashmere sweater will thank you.