There is an art to doing laundry and taking care of your clothing. When it comes to how to clean a cashmere sweater, my biggest concern is ruining it. Sure, I care about cotton and polyester, but having to replace a cashmere sweater because of a cleaning mistake is both expensive and frustrating, something I’d rather avoid. If you are just like me and want a simple and effective way to wash a cashmere sweater (without ruining it), I have you covered.
Mistakes To Avoid When Washing Cashmere
Before we get too involved in the process of cleaning, I want to lay out some of the major mistakes that you can make when washing cashmere. Keep these at the top of your mind to avoid damage to your cashmere sweater.
- Don’t use fabric softeners, bleach, and detergent with enzymes in it
- Do not wring the sweater
- Do not hang the sweater up to dry
- No ironing
- Don’t place your cashmere sweater under running water (of any temperature)
- Don’t use colored towels
- Do not clean on a rough surface
- Avoid rubbing; stick to patting
- Don’t leave the sweater in direct sunlight to dry
- Avoid overwashing
Supplies and Tools Needed to Wash Cashmere Sweaters
My favorite method for washing a cashmere sweater is to use a mild laundry detergent like Outback Gold Wool Wash. These are the supplies and tools you will need to complete the process:
- Outback Gold Wool Wash
- Clean sink to work in
- Cool water
- Clean non-colored towels for drying
- Cashmere comb
How to Wash a Cashmere Sweater
The best way to wash a cashmere sweater is a hand wash with the Outback Gold Wool Wash. Hand washing is certainly more time consuming than other cleaning methods, but I’ve never ruined a cashmere sweater doing it this way.
- Prepare a workspace for cleaning your cashmere sweater, do not do this on a rough surface where the sweater could get hung up on something
- Close any zippers or buttons again to avoid a snag
- Take your sweater and turn it inside out to help protect the exterior surface of the sweater
- Fill the clean sink with cool water
- Add a small amount of the Outback Gold Wool Wash, a mild cleaning solution that will work for cashmere garments, and mix the cashmere shampoo and water
- Submerge the sweater and hand wash cashmere, be sure to only gently agitate the fibers and avoid excessive rubbing, twisting, and scrubbing
- The goal is to get the solution to come into contact with the natural fibers, not to scrub the sweater clean
- Now let the sweater soak for 15 minutes in the soapy solution
- Remove your cashmere garment from the sink (don’t wring it or try to dry it)
- Drain the sink and fill it with cool water for rinsing; place the sweater into the cold water and move it around so all of the cleaning solution is removed
- Lift the cashmere out of the water and start pressing it with your hands; while doing this do not twist the sweater; think of it more like a fabric press
- Place a clean, dry, non colored towel on a smooth flat surface; a flat drying rack can also work
- Reshape your sweater so that it looks exactly as it did before you put it into the cleaning solution; roll the towel with the sweater inside to collect excess moisture
- Unroll the towel and reshape again if necessary, now allow the cashmere to dry naturally out of the direct sunlight
- Lay the sweater flat and remove any pills with a cashmere comb only after the sweater is entirely dry
- When storing your cashmere knits and cashmere blends, be sure to find a breathable garment bag where there is protection from things like moths or damage from other clothing
Alternative Methods for Washing a Cashmere Sweater
I’m often asked, should a cashmere sweater be dry cleaned? You can certainly choose the dry cleaning method if it helps you feel like your sweater is at less risk, but hand-washing cashmere is incredibly effective.
Before you start on any of these alternative methods, it’s important to know that the best detergent to wash cashmere with has to be mild, cannot be enzyme based, cannot contain bleach, and you should ensure that others are recommending it for cashmere sweaters.
Woolite Delicates Method
The Woolites Delicates method is an alternative to using Outback Gold Wool Wash. The Woolites Delicates can still be done as a hand wash; many people consider this to be a mild cleaner similar to a baby shampoo that is more geared toward fine fabrics.
The Woolite Delicates laundry detergent does not contain phosphates, enzymes, or bleach. When completing this Woolite method, you will follow almost all of the same steps as above. One of the things I love about using the Woolite Delicates is that you can also use this on other clothing you are hand washing or even machine washing.
If you have people in your family with sensitive skin, this is another great method to consider for all of your laundry. I would start by using just about a tablespoon of detergent for a cashmere sweater; you won’t need to soak detergent into the sweater; it will only increase rinsing and drying time.
Machine Wash Method
The machine wash method is obviously a bit different, and I’ll warn you that anytime you put high-end natural pile fabrics in the washing machine, you can create issues with wear and tear and longevity.
I’m often asked the question, Can you wash cashmere that says dry clean only? Do not wash cashmere, and especially do not wash it in the machine if your label says dry clean only. This machine washed method is only for sweaters that are not specifically asking for dry cleaning.
- Purchase the Heritage Park Laundry Detergent for Wool, Silk & Cashmere
- Place dry cashmere sweaters in individual mesh laundry bags to help protect it from getting agitated; I put every sweater in an individual bag
- Use the delicate cycle on your washing machine and ensure that it is set to a cold water temperature
- Add a small amount of the Heritage Park Laundry Detergent, do not add any fabric softeners, bleach, or other detergents
- Change the setting on the spin cycle to low, and ensure that it is for a very short period of time
- Most excess water will be removed at this point, do not wring the sweater to try and remove any more water
- Don’t mix other colored clothing in with your cashmere sweater to avoid a color transfer
- When the cashmere sweater is done with the wash cycle, dry clean the cashmere on a dry towel, reshaping it to form the original fit of the sweater
- Use a clean towel to roll the sweater and shorter the drying process time; never place the cashmere sweater in the dryer
- Store in a garment bag until wearing again
Deep Clean Method for Cashmere Sweaters
When your cashmere sweater is a bit dirtier, you may want to use a few of these tips. However, I will tell you that the process won’t vary all that much, or you will risk damaging your sweater.
- If your cashmere sweater is machine washable, start with a hand wash and then put it through the washing machine to see if it works for getting it completely clean
- Stick to the gentle cycle on the washing machine but extend the length of the wash cycle
- When hand washing, use more soapy water with specially formulated detergents and soap
- You can let the cashmere soak for 30-40 minutes if necessary to ensure that the natural fiber has enough time to absorb the detergent and cool water
What if My Sweater Has a Stubborn Stain?
If your cashmere sweater has a stubborn stain, spot treat it with a cotton swab and a bit of baby shampoo. A cashmere item can be easily damaged with a traditional stain remover. In addition, you can use a bit of laundry detergent like Heritage Park Laundry Detergent. Gently squeeze a small amount of the detergent directly on the stain.
Top 9 Tips for Preserving the Quality of Your Cashmere Sweater
Here are my favorite tips to keep that cashmere sweater in great condition one season after another.
- Make sure you lay the item flat to dry; any bumps or rough surfaces will show as the sweater goes through the air dry process
- Shave cashmere sweaters regularly
- Use a soft brush to refresh between washes
- Store with cedar or lavender sachets to keep the moths away
- Fold the sweater and store it in a garment bag for the off-season
- Steam your cashmere to freshen up
- Keep sweater away from hot water, heat, and agitation
- Avoid washing your sweater on consecutive days to help maintain the original shape
Why Cashmere Requires Special Care
Cashmere is likely one of the most delicate fabrics you have in your closet. The cashmere fibers are very fine and incredibly soft. This is why harsh detergents, enzyme cleaners, too much agitation, and even hot water can damage the fibers.
When cashmere gets damaged, you will notice it stretches, there will be more pilling, and it can even lose some of its softness. Cashmere also has natural oils inside the fibers that come from the body oil of the goat.
Overwashing, improper drying, and using too much of a machine wash as opposed to a hand-washing process are all ways to decrease the longevity and quality of your cashmere. The bottom line here is that you pay a lot of money for your cashmere, don’t ruin it with improper washing.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How can I prevent my cashmere sweater from shrinking?
The best way to prevent cashmere sweaters from shrinking is to dry them properly; in addition, you can take them to the dry cleaner to avoid shrinking. Proper drying involves laying the sweater flat on a clean towel and letting it air dry out of the direct sunlight.
What should I do if my cashmere sweater gets snagged?
If your cashmere sweater gets snagged, pull the snag through on the inside of the sweater and carefully mend on the inside. If you think that it is a larger snag, make sure to bring it to a professional for their help.
Is it safe to use a fabric softener on cashmere?
It is not safe to use fabric softener on cashmere. Cashmere is naturally soft, and if you use a fabric softener, it will leave a residue on the cashmere fibers. You will lose the original feel of the cashmere and potentially decrease its longevity.