Cashmere is a remarkable fibre, it is lightweight yet offers luxurious warmth and is said to be six times warmer than sheep wool. It’s also long lasting, despite being paper-thin and provided you look after your garments, they can be enjoyed for decades.
Here are our top 7 tips to ensure you can enjoy your cashmere for many years:
1. De-pill regularly in the early days. Knits made from natural fibres can pill due to the length of the fibres and friction forming small balls particularly under the arms, sides or where you carry your bag. Gently remove these balls with a cashmere comb or a special electric de-bobbler (taking care not to get carried away!)
2. Don't wear and wash. Assuming your day was free of stains, spills and sweating, you can wear your cashmere more than once before it requires cleaning. Laundering is recommended after about three wears, but you can up that number if you're wearing yours over a base layer, or if you air it out after each use (tip: try a special freshening spray if needed).
3. Hand washing is usually best….unless: Because it's a delicate yarn, many cashmere items are labelled “Dry Clean Only.” But cashmere comes from goats, and goats' fur - like human hair - gets fluffier and more lustrous after it's washed. By contrast, dry cleaning may damage and break down the fibres over time.
When to make an exception: If your item has special buttons, metals, embroidery or beading, follow the care instructions on the label or do further research on the best way to get it clean.
4. Wash your cashmere in COLD water and use a mild detergent like Woolite. Hand washing your cashmere items is always your best bet. Some cashmere buffs advise soaks of up to two or three hours to achieve that aforementioned fluffiness, but anywhere in the vicinity of 20 minutes will do the trick. And while purists staunchly oppose the idea of ever popping precious cashmere into a machine, some of the more laid back experts agree that turning a cashmere garment inside out and putting it in the washer for a brief, gentle-cycle spin on occasion is ok.
Two important things to remember when you wash: ANY FORM OF HEAT WILL SHRINK CASHMERE faster than you can say "crop top" so make sure the water is properly cold, not luke warm. And regular detergent is too harsh for cashmere - use special cashmere and wool wash products.
5. Avoid fabric softener. This isn’t be necessary and can cause the fibres to mat together, so could spoil the original softness and ‘handle’.
6. Lay flat & be patient. Cashmere is at its most delicate when the fibres are wet, so this is the stage that requires the most care. Unfortunately, wet cashmere can take days to dry, so this is also the stage that requires the most patience. The important rule here is no wringing - you gently press excess water out of your garment, place it on a dry towel and carefully roll it up. Once the towel has absorbed as much of the moisture as possible, shape the garment and lay it flat in a shady spot to dry. Never place on top of a boiler, Aga or radiator as it could shrink!
7. Consider freezing your cashmere. if you have space for a small chest freezer, this can be a great place to keep your cashmere clean and safe as it avoids any moth interest. Denim experts also suggest you wash jeans less by keeping them in a freezer as bacteria is killed and dissipates as they reach room temperature. Denim is a fibre which improves with more wear and less washing.
Bonus Tip: While some of these tips are about cashmere, you can follow them to clean and care for any pure woollens. Do not follow these steps if your garments are cashmere or wool blends with synthetic components (acrylic, nylon, polyester, etc.), or for lined items like wool jackets and suits.