Cashme garments will give you many years of wear when looked after. The secret is proper care: namely washing, drying, and storing them correctly.
CARING FOR YOUR CASHMERE GARMENT
We trust you to know when the time is right to launder your clothing. It is a misconception to avoid washing your cashmere, thinking that it will tire your garment or that it does not require a lot of washing.
Cashmere is made by spinning lots of fibres together to create one single strand of yarn, making it porous in nature and more susceptible to dirt and odour than other fabrics. Therefore by not washing your cashmere you will actually speed up the ageing process. We recommend you clean your cashmere as often as often as it gets dirty.
The very thought of washing delicate cashmere garments, however, can raise spectres of laundry-room horror: tumble-drier disasters, hot water shrinkage, and shapeless clothesline disfigurements. We’ve collated some key tips to help you when it comes time to clean your cashmere.
Firstly, and importantly, cashmere garments do not have to be dry cleaned! In fact, dry cleaning cashmere can damage the garment and reduce its longevity. Hand washing is always the most preferable method, as detailed below.
The key to the whole process is using common sense, and a little trick known as the ‘new born baby’ rule. This cute rule should frame your selection of water temperature, soaps or detergents, and handling during washing and drying -- just treat your cashmere garment with the same care and sensitivity you would use with a new born baby.
If you’re not completely confident about how to wash and dry your precious cashmere garments, it can be a daunting – or risky! – task. So, we asked an expert Cashmere manufacturer, Mia Fratino to send us their top tips for washing, drying and storing cashmere to ensure long lifetimes for your favourite luxury garments.
Firstly, the best way to wash cashmere is by hand, and with a little common sense and a lot of care. It’s also important to dispel the myth that cashmere garments need to be dry-cleaned. The chemicals used in dry-cleaning can damage delicate cashmere fibres, so it’s best to avoid this method entirely.
HAND WASHING CASHMERE
Fill a sink or basin with room-temperature water - cold water can set some stains, and hot water can shrink garment. Add a small amount of gentle soap, or wool detergent or speciality made Sally’s wool wash. If you are stuck you can use hair conditioner or baby shampoo. And remember, more soap doesn’t mean a cleaner garment, it can actually add residue – so be frugal with your soap allocation.
Always turn garments inside out before washing, to protect the outer-facing surface of the garment from rubbing during washing. Submerge the inside-out garment, and softly swirl, press and squeeze to draw in water. Next, drain and refill the basin with clean soap-less water a couple of times, to rinse the garment thoroughly.
MACHINE WASHING CASHMERE
Somewhat unbelievably, cashmere can be machine washed (but remember, hand washing is always best). When washing cashmere in a machine, always place garments in a mesh washing bag, and wash the item alone to avoid unnecessary rubbing.
Select a delicate cycle or wool wash cycle. It should be a short, delicate cycle or manually interrupt the machine after a couple of minutes. Set the water temperature to cold, and spin cycle to low, and remove the garment as soon as the cycle finished.
SPOT CLEANING CASHMERE
With spot stains, a gentle approach is key – any furious rubbing or dabbing at the stain could damage the weave or create fuzzy areas. The best approach is to gently massage a pre-wash stain remover into the area or attempt to work the stain out from the opposite side.
There are three – usually – unforgivable sins of drying cashmere:
- Wringing out the water
- Pinning a wet garment up on the clothesline, and
- Just throwing it into a tumble drier (however, somewhat shockingly, cashmere can be tumble-dried! But it does require extreme caution and care, as detailed in the next section).
Wet cashmere has weaker fibres, and the twisting and stretching action of wringing out or hanging a garment can disfigure it. Instead, try this: once removed from the water, gently ball up the cashmere garment and squeeze out excess water, or press it against the side of the washing basin. Lay it flat on a towel, and roll both up into a tight cylinder, squeezing excess water out of the knit and into the towel. Unroll, and lay the cashmere flat on a clean, dry towel or drying rack, gently arranging it into its normal shape.
Re-shaping is an important step in the drying process, as the garment will essentially remain in this shape until the next wash. It is usually a simple process if the garment has been handled delicately during washing, however, some knit structures are prone to ‘monkey arms’ when wet: where the sleeves become stretched and skinny. To correct this, lay the damp garment flat and gently adjust the sleeve width, working from the shoulder down to the cuff.
And finally, always dry out of direct sunlight, to avoid fading and sun damage.
Yes, it’s true: you can tumble-dry cashmere. But it must be approached with extreme care: tumble-drying can damage or destroy your garment in seconds.
Preheating the tumble-drier on a medium setting will mean minimal machine time for your precious garments. And the addition of ‘tumble buddies’, a couple of soft, dry shirts, will ensure garments don’t stick to the sides or blades. If your garment isn’t tumbling correctly, stop it immediately and add more tumble buddies, or revert to drying flat.
Only allow the garment to tumble-dry for a maximum of five minutes, any longer and you risk damaging or destroying it.
End-of-season before-storage maintenance is highly important.
Never hang cashmere garments, it can distort and stretch them. Instead, carefully fold each piece and store in cotton bags, which are breathable and dust- and bug-proof, unlike plastic tubs or bags.
To deter moths, always store your garment with a scented garment protector, or a linii huon pine shavings or cloves or cedar balls. But if moths do find their way into your closet, remove and wash all garments, and clean, vacuum and bug spray inside the wardrobe. Steaming garments can also help halt the moth lifecycle.
For more information about caring for your cashmere and ensuring a long, luxurious life for your favourite garments, visit the Mia Fratino Cashmere Care Clinic