The Do's and Don’ts for Caring for Wool and Cashmere
by Elizabeth Pamboukian on Nov 05, 2020
Wondering how to clean wool? How to care for your cashmere sweater without dry cleaning? We’re here to help you say goodbye to shrinkage and large dry cleaning bills as we break down the dos and don’ts of washing wool and cashmere. Not only do these fabrics clean up nicely, washing them actually helps to preserve the fibers so you can wear your favorite sweaters longer.
“All a woman needs to be chic is a raincoat, two suits, a pair of trousers and a cashmere sweater.” - Hubert de Givenchy
There’s a reason cashmere is a wintertime staple – it offers maximum warmth with minimum bulk. But one accident in the dryer and your favorite sweater could be totally ruined. You might be reluctant to wash your sweaters at home because of this and past disasters but we’re here to help dismiss your worries and save big on your dry cleaning bill.
To help you understand how to care for your sweaters, we want to tell you more about the fabric. All animals in the wool family – sheep, alpaca, mohair, lamb, merino, goat, etc., use the same cleaning process. It’s always safer to hand wash or dry clean but we don’t always have the time, energy, or budget to make a trip to the dry cleaners. So how can you wash your most delicate sweaters at home?
- Do: wash your sweaters once or twice a season if they’re not on too heavy of a wear rotation. Feel free to use a fabric freshener if you must.
- Don’t: wash your sweater after every wear. This isn’t good for the yarns and since animal fiber is naturally biodegradable, this could prevent long-term use.
- Do: hand wash your sweater in a filled sink, bathtub, or basin. Use lukewarm water and a squirt of wool or animal fiber cleanser. If you don’t own a cleanser specially formulated for animal fibers, a simple hair shampoo is a good alternative because wool and cashmere are essentially hair. Submerge your sweater in the bath and gently swirl around for about 30 seconds, letting it soak in the water for up to 30 minutes.
- Don’t: let your sweaters sit in water for longer than 30 minutes.
- Do: drain your water and rinse with cool, clean water.
- Don’t: wring your sweater (this is crucial)! Wringing animal fiber can manipulate and weaken the small fibers that make up the yarn.
- Do: gently remove excess water from washing by pressing your sweater into a relaxed ball, almost like pizza dough. Press your sweater ball into the side of the sink or a surface to subtract any excess water.
- Don’t: use the dryer which is notorious for shrinking knits. Stay far away and avoid the dryer at all costs!
- Do: lay the sweater on a fresh clean towel or drying rack and recreate its natural shape, letting it air dry.
- Don’t: hang your sweater up to dry – you could end up with saggy sleeves and material where it shouldn’t be.
- Do: use a stain remover to get rid of any stains before washing your sweater. Go easy with the application and gently massage the affected area.
- Don’t: scrub too hard when removing stains. You could damage the weave pattern and create an obvious super fuzzy spot.
- Do: use a steamer to get rid of and prevent wrinkles.
- Don’t: use an iron as it crushes the fiber and can cause shrinkage.
- Do: fold sweaters and store in breathable cotton storage bins/bags. Cotton is recommended over plastic to avoid stubborn holes. Moths and evil sweater eating bugs can’t eat through cotton whereas they can happily survive in moisture retaining plastic storage bins.
- Don’t: hang your sweaters. Never hang a sweater because you could end up with serious distortion and stretched out shoulders.
- Do: wash your sweaters before storing them at the end of the winter season.