How to Wash Cashmere

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We'd be remiss to find someone who doesn't love the luxurious feeling of a cashmere garment. That said, investing in a cashmere sweater, scarf, or other apparel can be expensive thanks to the soft fibers that come from not only the thick hairs on the topcoat of a cashmere goat but from the ultra-smooth cashmere undercoat, too. Case in point, maintenance and proper care are key to make sure your favorite cashmere pieces last a long time. Below, we've put together a step-by-step guide on how to carefully clean your cashmere.

Keep reading to learn how to take care of your cashmere pieces.

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Hand Wash Cashmere

While you can toss cashmere in the laundry, it's better to put in the elbow grease with hand washing, as it's the most gentle way to wash, and it prevents the garment's fibers from stretching out or wearing thin. If you have a newer machine with a good hand wash cycle, feel free to use it. Otherwise, here are some hand washing instructions.

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 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 prevent fading or shrinking.

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Soap and Soak

Soaking cashmere

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Choosing the right soap is crucial when caring for cashmere. Go for a soap that has low alkaline—it's less harsh on the delicate 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 such as The Laundress Wool & Cashmere Shampoo ($20).

Pour a small amount of soap into the basin. Then, fully submerge the cashmere and hold it under the water until the entire garment is wet. Only put as many items as can be fully immersed into the basin. You can swirl and lightly agitate the water and apparel, then let it sit and soak for about 15 minutes. (FYI: You can also use the soap to pre-treat a soiled area on the garment).

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Rinse, Don't Wring

If the detergent you use requires rinsing, do so using cold water. Bear in mind: The water will make it heavy, and it can stretch and pull, so be careful not to let the cashmere stretch out while you do this. You can 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 garment as you can easily overstretch or warp its shape. You can gently squeeze it in large sections between your hands.

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

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Let it Dry

Since cashmere is known for retaining water, set down a dry towel and lay your cashmere garment to dry. You can also use a mesh sweater rack to lay the item flat and allow for air to circulate underneath it. Whatever you do, avoid hang drying—it may cause the wet and heavy cashmere to stretch out. Also, avoid putting your cashmere in the dryer, as the high heat and the tumbling can ruin the fibers of cashmere and cause it to warp or shrink.

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