Cashmere Crash Course – Caring for Your Luxurious Sweaters
Do you consider investing in a cashmere sweater? Or maybe do you already own one? Congratulations! Cashmere-wool is one of the most luxurious fabrics, and if you only know how to properly take care of your cashmere garments – it’s an investment worthwhile.
Cashmere – the Rolls Royce of Wool
Cashmere wool is made from the ultra-soft undercoat of cashmere-goats. Cashmere-goats were originally bread in the northern Indian region Cashmere and the wool they produce makes one of the world's most expensive textile weaves. The goats have an extremely warm coat. Even though their natural habitat is very cold they have very little subcutaneous fat. Hence, cashmere-wool is about four times warmer than other types of wool.
Nowadays most cashmere wool comes from inner Mongolia and China, but we still call it cashmere wool. The wool can only be made from the winter fur, and since the goats only shed their winter fur once a year, cashmere wool is very rare.
How can I tell high quality cashmere from low?
With increased demand comes a larger supply, but please be mindful about the quality before purchasing a garment. Many manufactured garments can’t be measured with the quality of traditional cashmere; the wool can be blended with other fibers or the undercoat is not thoroughly separated from the rest of the coat.
These details can tell you about the quality:
- Softness – high quality cashmere never itches
- Pilling, finer cashmere is shinier and produces less pilling
- Fiber length: fine cashmere has a fiber length of at least 36 mm of maximum 40 mm. Simplified you can say that cashmere garments made of short fiber cashmere will attract more lint.
- How many threads that have been woven to produce the yarn made to knit the garment. More threads make the yarn warmer, durable and more sustainable.
Low quality cashmere will:
create more pilling (even if all weaves will create some pilling).
rip more easily
not keep you as warm and cozy as fine quality cashmere
In the world of fashion, it’s rare to find a correlation between the quality and the price tag. But when it comes to cashmere, the quality is often reflected in the price. Too cheap means you can’t expect too much.
How to Wash and Care for Cashmere
You’ve invested in a cashmere-garment, bagged it, worn it. And now what? Caring for your cashmere clothes is actually easier than you think.
How Often Should I Wash Cashmere?
The goats hardly wash themselves, but yet they keep their coat clean. One of the many perks of wool is that it’s somewhat self-cleansing. Hang your clothes outdoors to air, preferably overnight after you’ve worn them. When a garment is dirty or has started to smell weird, even though you’ve aired it – you know it’s time to wash it. But only then!
Dry clean? Non!
Many cashmere garments are labeled dry clean only – and if they’ve gotten heavily stained – the dry cleaner is where you should be headed. The stain removal treatment used by the dry cleaner is more efficient than what you can achieve at home. But regular dry cleaning is causing a tear on the clothes (and on the environment, not to forget!), so try to wash at home as much as possible.
Machine washing cashmere – yes way!
If you have a modern washing machine it should be equipped with a Wool Program, or Hand Wash Program. These are particularly gentle programs designed to resemble handwashing. In other words: the garment won’t be twisted while it’s wet (the combination of heat and movement is what's causing all wool to shrink) or alternate between hot and cold water (that’s also causing wool to shrink).
Always machine wash using the Wool Program, and never in temperatures over 30°C. Choose a shoort spin cycle of 800 RPM or less to remove excessive water.
Shouldn’t a garment like this be hand washed?
The care label on many garments will instruct you to hand wash. And sure, if you have a very delicate garment, hand washing is your safest option. The downside is that when you’re hand washing you will rarely rinse out all residues of the detergent.
Steam instead of ironing
A newly washed cashmere sweater might be a little… misshapen. You can easily regain the sweaters' shape by steaming it with a steamer. You can steam cashmere garments the same way you steam your other clothes; the steam is not harmful. You can also use an iron, but only on the lowest setting and never press the iron directly against the fabric. Use a cloth in between the iron and the cashmere sweater to protect the fibers from being flattened.
A steamer will make the garment regain its original shape and luster, in a gentle and risk-free way.
Fold, don’t hang
In between uses you should always store your cashmeres folded in a drawer. Hanging them on a hanger will cause a tear and make them lose shape prematurely.
Protect cashmere from moth and bugs
Like any other wool cashmere can attract vermin like moth. Make your closet unpleasant for all uninvited guests by:
- Storing each garment in a cotton bag. This will make them out of reach for any vermin.
- Spray your clothes with cedar wood oil or store them with bricks or balls or rings made of cedar wood. Moth and fur beetles hate the sharp smell of cedar. If you’re using cedar wood, make sure to scrape them once in a while to keep them spreading the smells.
- Wash worn garments regularly. Dirty and smelly cashmere is more attractive to vermin than clean cashmere.
Remove lint and pilling
All cashmere will eventually create pilling. Especially in the areas where there's a lot of friction. The better the quality, the fewer the bobbles though. Debobble your cashmere with our Pilo Fabric Shaver, it will gently remove pilling and lint. Go easy in the beginning and sweep the Pilo over the pilling. Gradually increase the pressure, but never press! Schvoom – and your cashmere is like new again.
Remove hair and dust
Woolly sweaters are like magnets for hair and dust. Give your sweater a good old shake outside to remove dust. Pet hair is easily removed with a Lint Brush – a nifty little brush that catches the hairs in one sweep. As opposed to a lint roller with sticky tape, the lint brush doesn’t leave any glue residues on your clothes (that makes them attract even more hair). And of course, the lint brush can be used over and over again, without reloading!
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The Guide you Must Read Before you Hand Wash
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Washing Wool – Easier Than You Think