How to Wash Cashmere

Cashmere is a super soft, luxury material. Investing in a cashmere sweater, scarf, or other apparel can be expensive so it's very important to care for it well. One way to help your cashmere sweaters last longer is to pay attention to how you wash them. Below you'll find some of the best tools and methods for washing cashmere.

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Step 1: Water and Container

hand wash

 Getty/SilviaJansen

While you can wash cashmere clothing and products in the washing machine, hand washing is preferred. It's the most gentle way to wash and keeps the fibers of the garment or item from stretching out or wearing thing. If you have a newer machine with a good hand wash cycle, feel free to use it. Otherwise, here are some hand washing instructions.

Make sure you have plenty of space and a location suited for washing. If you don't have a dedicated laundry room, create space temporarily somewhere out of the way. Set up your washing and drying areas before getting started.

Step 1 is to fill up a basin, bin, or bucket with enough water to cover the item being washed. You can also use a sink. Make sure the container is clean and has with a smooth surface, with nothing that will pull or snag the cashmere.

You may want to put the basin in a tub or deep sink to avoid splashing or spilling. And remember that it's best to use cold water to avoid fading or shrinking.

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Step 2: Soap and Soak

Soaking cashmere

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Step 2 is very important. Choosing the right soap is imperative when caring for cashmere. Real Simple suggests to choose a soap that has low alkaline because it's less harsh on the delicate cashmere material. It's also good practice to avoid your regular detergent that you use on sturdier materials like denim and cotton. Instead, invest in a soap that is specifically made for cashmere or delicates. A few trusty soaps to try are Soak, Eucalan, Forever New, and Wool & Cashmere Shampoo from The Laundress.

Follow the bottle's directions and squeeze or pour a small amount of soap into the basin. You can also use it to pre-treat a soiled area on the garment. Then fully submerge the cashmere item and hold it under the water until all if it is wet. Only put as many items as can be fully submerged into the basin. You can swirl and lightly agitate the water and garment, then let it sit and soak. Usually 15 minutes is enough.

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Step 3: Rinse and Do Not Wring

hand wash

 Getty/Khatawut Chaemchamras / EyeEm

If the detergent you use requires rinsing, complete Step 3 by doing so under clean, cool, running water. Be careful not to let the cashmere stretch out while you do this. The water will make it heavy and it can stretch and pull. Use your fingers to gently agitate or loosen any soiled parts like deodorant or dirt.

Alternatively, you can empty and refill the basin with fresh water, or use a second basin filled with clean water to rinse the soap out. Also avoid wringing the sweater as you can easily overstretch or warp its shape. You can gently squeeze it in large sections between your hands.

One idea is to lay a cashmere sweater or other garment flat on a dry towel and roll it up. As you roll tightly, you can gently press the water out of the sweater and into the towel. Let the towel soak up most of the moisture.

Another idea is to insert the sweater into a clean salad spinner (for real!) and give it a spin. Just like it helps the leaves of your lettuce gently get nice and dry, it can help spin out excess water in your cashmere, too.

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Step 4: Dry

drying cashmere

 

Getty/Maureen P Sullivan

Cashmere retains water You can use lay down a dry towel and lay your cashmere garment to dry. You can also use a mesh sweater rack to lay the sweater flat and allow for air to circulate underneath it. It's best to avoid hang drying, because wet and heavy cashmere items may stretch out if doing so.

It's a good idea to put a towel underneath anything that is hanging to avoid water spills and potential slipping hazards. One thing most everyone can agree upon is to avoid putting cashmere items into the dryer machine. High heat and the tumbling can ruin the fibers of cashmere and cause it to warp or shrink.

The extra effort that cashmere requires can be worth it. If you wear and care for your cashmere garments with respect for its high quality and delicate knit, you can help them last longer and retain their shape better than most wool garments.

Please note that some items in this article were gifted to the journalist for review, or are brand partners. Opinions are always authentic and honest.