Preserving the Luxe in Luxury
Cashmere’s allure lies not just in its softness and warmth but in the luxury and comfort it brings to everyday life. This exquisite fiber, often considered a staple in the world of high-quality garments, is treasured across the globe for its fine texture and insulating properties. However, this luxury comes with the need for careful handling and maintenance. Improper care can lead to shrinkage, distortion, or a loss of the softness that makes cashmere so prized.
This guide delves into the essential techniques and considerations for washing cashmere, ensuring that your garments maintain their luxurious feel and appearance for years. Following these detailed steps keeps your cashmere items looking and feeling as glorious as they were on the first wear, preserving the elegance and comfort of this prestigious material.
Understanding Cashmere: The Delicate Luxury
Cashmere’s distinct softness and warmth stem from the structure of its fine fibers, which are significantly thinner and softer than standard wool. This luxurious material is harvested from the underbelly of cashmere goats, primarily found in the Gobi Desert and other parts of Asia, with each goat providing only a few ounces of cashmere per year. This rarity contributes to the exclusivity and value of cashmere garments.
Despite its resilience and warmth, cashmere’s fine fibers require a gentle touch to maintain their shape, texture, and color. The delicate nature of these fibers means they are prone to pilling, stretching, and wear if not treated appropriately. Understanding the inherent qualities of cashmere and the reasons behind its specific care requirements is the first step in ensuring your garments remain a luxurious addition to your wardrobe.
By recognizing the delicate nature of cashmere, you can adopt cleaning and maintenance practices that protect and enhance the fiber’s natural beauty, making your investment in these garments worthwhile.
Preparing Your Cashmere for Washing
Assessing Your Garment
Each piece of cashmere is an investment in comfort and style. Begin by thoroughly inspecting your garment for any specific areas of concern. Look for spots, stains, or signs of wear, especially in high-friction areas like underarms or cuffs. Addressing these issues before the general washing process ensures targeted treatment, preventing further damage or setting of stains.
Use a gentle stain remover approved for cashmere or a solution of mild detergent and water for spot cleaning. Apply it carefully to the affected area, dabbing lightly to treat the spot without spreading the stain or damaging the fibers.
Choosing the Right Detergent
The secret to maintaining the soft, luxurious feel of cashmere lies in the choice of detergent. Opt for a product specifically designed for wool or delicate fabrics. These detergents are formulated to clean effectively without harsh chemicals that can degrade cashmere fibers over time.
Avoid detergents with bleach, enzymes, or other strong chemicals. A gentle, pH-neutral liquid detergent will clean while preserving the integrity and softness of the fibers.
Washing Cashmere by Hand: The Preferred Method
Hand washing is the safest way to clean cashmere, preserving its delicate fibers and preventing misshaping in a washing machine. Fill a basin with lukewarm water—hot water can shrink and damage the fibers, while cold water might not effectively clean. Mix in the appropriate amount of your detergent until it’s well dissolved.
Place your cashmere garment in the water and gently agitate it with your hands, allowing the soapy mixture to penetrate the fibers. Avoid rubbing or twisting the fabric, which can stretch or feel the fibers. Instead, gently squeeze and press the suds through the material.
After soaking for the recommended duration, usually around 10-15 minutes, carefully lift the garment from the soapy water. Drain the basin and refill it with fresh, lukewarm water for rinsing. Submerge the garment again and gently squeeze the water through to rinse out the detergent.
It may take several changes of water to remove all soap altogether. Be patient and avoid twisting or wringing the fabric. Once the water runs clear, you’ve successfully rinsed your cashmere.
Machine Washing Cashmere: Proceed with Caution
Using a Mesh Bag
If you must use a washing machine, take every precaution to protect your cashmere. A mesh laundry bag is essential, providing a protective barrier between the delicate cashmere and the machine’s harsh environment. Place your cashmere item inside the bag and tightly secure the opening to prevent the garment from coming out during the wash cycle.
Setting the Machine
Choose a gentle cycle on your machine specifically for delicates or woolens. Set the water temperature to cold to prevent any shrinkage or damage to the fibers. Add the same mild, cashmere-friendly detergent you would use for hand washing. Ensure the spin cycle is low or off to prevent excessive wringing. Once the cycle is complete, promptly remove the cashmere to prevent creasing or additional stress on the fibers. Always check your machine’s settings and capabilities to ensure it’s suitable for washing delicate items like cashmere.
Drying and Shaping Your Cashmere
Proper drying is just as crucial as the washing process when it comes to cashmere. Once the washing is complete, avoid twisting or wringing out the water, as this can distort the shape and damage the fibers. Instead, lay the garment flat on a clean, absorbent towel. Roll the towel up with the cashmere inside, pressing gently to remove excess water. Unroll the towel and transfer the garment to a fresh, dry towel or a mesh drying rack, reshaping it to its original form.
Pay particular attention to the arms, neck, and hemline, smoothing out any folds or wrinkles. Allow the cashmere to air dry completely in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight and heat sources, which can fade color and weaken fibers. Drying may take several hours, so be patient—this gentle drying process is key to maintaining your cashmere’s luxurious softness and shape.
Maintaining Your Cashmere: Tips for Longevity
Caring for cashmere doesn’t end after washing and drying. To ensure your garments last for years, adopt these simple but effective maintenance tips:
Always store your cashmere folded in a drawer or on a shelf. Hanging can lead to stretching, especially at the shoulders, and long-term deformation of your garments. Store in a breathable cotton bag to prevent dust and moths, avoiding plastic, which can trap moisture and lead to damage.
Dealing with Pilling
Pilling, small balls of fiber forming on the surface of cashmere, is a natural process for all woolens, especially in areas of friction. Regularly use a cashmere comb or pill remover specifically designed for delicate fabrics. Gently brush the surface to remove the pills and restore the smooth texture of your garment. Avoid excessive force, which can damage the fibers.
Refreshing Between Washes
Cashmere doesn’t need to be washed after every wear. Air out your garments between wears to refresh them. Hang them in a well-ventilated area for a few hours, avoiding direct sunlight. Be cautious with perfumes, deodorants, and other chemicals that can stain or weaken the fibers, and always allow lotions or oils to be fully absorbed before wearing your cashmere.
By following these steps for washing, drying, and maintaining your cashmere, you’ll ensure that each piece remains a cherished and enduring element of your wardrobe, offering warmth, comfort, and a touch of luxury for many years.
At the end of the season, clean your cashmere before storing it to avoid setting stains or attracting pests. When bringing them out for a new season, air them out and gently steam them to remove wrinkles and refresh the fibers.
Clotheslyne: Your Partner in Cashmere Care
Maintaining the luxurious feel of cashmere can seem daunting when life gets busy. Clotheslyne offers a convenient solution with laundry pick-up and delivery services in select areas, including New York, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Alaska, and Massachusetts.
Our Clotheslyners are not just service providers; they are individuals in your community who understand the value of your garments and are dedicated to providing the care they deserve. Trust us to wash, dry, and fold your clothes, giving you time to enjoy life’s softer things. With Clotheslyne, caring for your cashmere and laundry needs has never been easier or more convenient.
You can also schedule your laundry pick up through our web portal.
Fill up a tall kitchen bag full of clothes. A Clotheslyner in your community will pick it up and deliver it back to you washed, dried, and folded in 48 hours. It’s that simple.