How To Wash Cashmere
There is no denying that once you start wearing cashmere and feel the luxuriousness of the fabric, there can be no substitutes! Unfortunately, that means eventually accidents are prone to happen. Simple accidents such as spilling some wine, coffee, or a droplet of foundation on your precious cashmere at some point. So inevitably, you are going to be frantically searching for how to wash cashmere to get rid of those pesky stains.
Fortunately, cashmere is not as horribly difficult to wash as some people might have made you believe. Yes, you do have to treat your cashmere knits with extra love and care, but that doesn’t mean you can’t wash cashmere at home (and it’s actually really easy to do)!
What is Cashmere?
You can call cashmere the king of natural wool. Few fabrics are as light, warm, and soft as cashmere. The fibers are obtained from Cashmere and Pashmina goats and they don't have that characteristic itchiness of sheep wool.
How Do You Wash Cashmere?
Since cashmere is made from all-natural fibers and nothing synthetic, there are extra steps added into care and storage. As with any garment, you should always double check the care label before you begin washing it. All the information you could ever need for keeping your cashmere sweaters and accessories beautiful will be found there, including the best temperature for the water and whether you can stick the item in a dryer.
Cashmere washing instructions spoiler: Cashmere and dryers are incompatible.
Also, just because the tag says “dry clean,” that doesn’t mean the item has to always be dry cleaned. If something says you shouldn’t wash it, then the fabric shouldn’t be exposed to water or chemical detergents.
Next, test a small patch on your cashmere clothing or item before you clean it completely. The item might have dyes that will react poorly to detergent, so use an inconspicuous spot to double check. If the knitting doesn’t seem made for washing machines, you might have to hand wash it. When in doubt, a professional should be able to tell you just how delicate something is.
The final thing to keep in mind is that you should always be conservative when it comes to washing anything delicate, such as cashmere, lace, or silk. Use less detergent and set the washing machine to the lowest setting and coldest temperature.
Can Cashmere Be Hand Washed?
If you don’t want to take your cashmere to be dry cleaned, you’re probably wondering how to wash cashmere at home. So, as you may have guessed, cashmere can be machine washed—but that doesn’t mean you should.
It is recommended you wash cashmere by hand and it is the recommended method for two reasons. First, you have far more control over the wash than you do with an automated machine. Second, your cashmere will hold up longer and feel all the more heavenly.
How to Hand Wash Cashmere
To get started you will need a detergent designed specifically for cashmere or a mild baby shampoo and a large wash basin.
Next, follow these steps:
- Fill the wash basin with cool water and about a tablespoon (about 15 ml) of cashmere-friendly detergent.
- Submerge your cashmere garment completely into the water and gently work the places that have stains or need washing, such as the armpits. Wash only one or two garments at a time, depending on their size and color compatibility.
- Let your item soak for about 30 minutes. Pour out the water.
- Refill the basin with cool water and swish it around the cashmere knit. Repeat until the fabric no longer holds any soap. Again, dump the water.
- Never wring out cashmere. Instead, press the garment against the sides of the basin to remove water.
- Lay your cashmere knit on a dry towel for it to dry. Thicker cashmere will take much longer to dry. Wait between 24-48 hours before putting your cashmere garment away to dry. In the middle of the drying process, you may want to swap out the towel, since the first one will get damp. Keep in mind that you should never hang a cashmere knit, since that will stretch out the fabric and ruin the shape.
Can you Machine Wash Cashmere
While we firmly stand by the belief that cashmere needs (and deserves!) to be hand washed, there may be a scenario when you’re short on time but need to get a stain out immediately. That’s when you can (reluctantly) enlist your washing machine for assistance. You will need to add in a few steps, though.
We strongly advise against machine washing cashmere as it can cause irreparable damage to your gorgeously soft cashmere. Always consider handwashing with a specialist laundry liquid before turning to the washing machine.
How to Machine Wash Cashmere
Grab a handy laundry bag and your cashmere laundry liquids or mild baby shampoo. Then do the following:
- Put one cashmere garment into the mesh bag. Any time you plan on washing multiple cashmere items at once, they all need a separate bag.. Only wash two or three cashmere sweaters together in one load or five smaller items, like cashmere gloves, socks, or scarves. Never wash cashmere with other fabrics.
- Place your cashmere in the laundry machine. Add a small amount of specialist cashmere laundry liquids. Set the machine to the lowest agitation cycle and the lowest temperature. Wait until the wash, rinse, and spin is complete.
- When it is time to remove your cashmere items from the machine, don’t immediately stick them in the dryer. Never put them there. Heat warps natural fibers like cashmere. Instead, lay the cashmere items out on towels to dry. Thickness will determine how long it takes for cashmere to air dry, but most items are usually done within 24-48 hours. You can speed up drying by flipping over the cashmere and changing out the towels. Never hang wet cashmere.
Removing Stains on Cashmere
Finding a stain on cashmere is a heartbreaking moment. You’ll hear the tiny violins for sure. But that doesn’t mean that your garment has to remain permanently discolored. The sooner you notice the stain the better. Treat the stain with some cold water and a delicate fabric stain remover. A pH neutral formula is best.
After treating the stain, hand wash the cashmere and leave it to soak for a little longer in soapy water. Never rub at the stain, because that can cause holes in the fabric. If a stain is too stubborn or you don’t think you can remove it on your own, a professional cleaner will be best.
Tips For Caring and Washing Cashmere at Home
As we’ve mentioned earlier, the sooner you can clean your stained or dirtied cashmere, the better. Here are some extra tips to make washing cashmere effortless:
- Don’t use the same detergents and soaps that you would use on regular laundry. Cashmere is a higher grade of material that will grow brittle if washed with abrasive bleaches and detergents. It’s best to use a mild soap made specifically for cashmere, like Wool & Cashmere Shampoo from the Laundress or a high-end baby shampoo (cashmere is fur, after all).
- When hand washing your cashmere garments, don’t pull them from the water while they are still soaked. The water will weigh the fabric down, stretching it out and causing it to lose its shape. Gently squeeze the water from the cashmere.
- Invest in mesh bags for your cashmere accessories and clothing so that the fabric doesn’t snag in the washing machine.
FAQs About How to Wash Cashmere
Here are some questions on the top of list of anyone who owns and wears cashmere:
Can you wash cashmere in a washing machine?
Yes, you can machine wash cashmere. Carefully set the machine to its lowest setting and coolest temperature, and use mesh bags to protect the fabric from getting damaged. Never put your machine washed cashmere into the dryer.
What happens if you put cashmere in the washing machine?
On the lowest setting (delicate), the effect will be the same one you get from hand washing cashmere. You will want to use cold water, since heat will damage cashmere. Without a mesh bag, cashmere may get damaged in a washing machine, so it is highly recommended that you hand wash your cashmere.
Does cashmere shrink in the wash?
Yes. Cashmere is very prone to shrinking when exposed to heat—any kind of heat. Even hot water and heat from the dryer will cause shrinkage. The only way to wash cashmere without damaging it is to use cold water. This is true for both machine and hand washing.
How often should you wash cashmere?
As long as you haven’t gotten your cashmere stained, you can wear a cashmere garment two or three times before it needs a wash. However, if you are wearing a cashmere shawl or scarf or something that doesn’t come into contact with human skin and sweat very often, you may only need to wash the item once or twice a season.
In short, you don’t have to wash cashmere as often as synthetic fabrics.
How can I protect my cashmere?
Cashmere is considered a delicate fabric, meaning that you have to be very careful when handling it. Even a small mistake with how you care for your cashmere could ruin it. One way to protect cashmere from damages is to avoid washing it too much; when you do wash the garment, select only the gentlest of routes.
When wearing cashmere, make sure you aren’t pairing it with rough fabrics like canvas backpacks or metal accessories (necklaces, bangles, dangling earrings) that will rub, snag, or cause pilling. Besides, cashmere is a wonderful statement piece on its own!
Should I use fabric softener on cashmere?
It’s never a grand idea to use fabric softener on cashmere. Instead of softening the fabric, fabric softener actually coats the cashmere in chemicals, thereby making it feel more stiff.
If you want to make your cashmere garments softer, the only two things you need is wear and proper care. The longer you own a cashmere garment, and the better care you give it—such as storing it properly—the softer it becomes. However, if you want to soften cashmere, try adding just a little bit of white vinegar to the water during a wash.
Extra Care for Cashmere
As you undoubtedly know, cashmere is such a luxurious fabric. To keep it feeling soft and light, you need to give it the utmost care, when washing it. By adopting the methods we listed on how to clean cashmere, you will be able to keep your cashmere sweaters, blankets, and accessories looking and feeling fabulous for much longer. Whether you choose hand washing or machine washing, you now know how to make cashmere last a lifetime.
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