How to Care for Cashmere to Keep It Soft and / Instagram

I first tried on cashmere while working at Ann Taylor in college. The ultra-soft, luxe fabric was a fan-favorite, but in my early 20s, I didnt understand the value—I wish I could rewind the tape and invest in a few pieces while I had the discount! The past few winters, Ive worn primarily turtlenecks and high-waisted denim, but my sweaters dont last long before getting holes and pilling, so I shopped for a few cashmere pieces ahead of a trip to London this year in hopes of finding a more sustainable solution. Cashmere can last for years, but figuring out how to care for it can feel like a daunting task—you may be wondering if you have to dry clean it, if hand-washing is an option, or how to store it. Thats whywe chatted with two brand execs about how to care for cashmere properlyso your investment pieces stay looking their best for longer—keep reading for their top tips.

What Is Cashmere?

Cashmere is wool sourced from cashmere and pashmina goatsmainly in China, Mongolia, and Iran. Not only is it considered a higher-end fiber, but the production of cashmere garments accounts for its elevated price tag. Cashmere is graded on a scale from A to C, with Grade A being considered the absolute best (and usually the most expensive). The construction of a cashmere piece can tell you a lot about the quality: If it stretches and reshapes and youre able to run your hand over it without it shedding, youre working with a nice piece.

Cashmere is a fairly sustainable knitwear choice because of its long-lasting quality, but you also have options to make it even more eco-friendly: Brands like Stella McCarthy, Naadam, Reformation, and Everlane use recycled materials to create their cashmere pieces. Additionally, if you have pieces to recycle, Ralph Lauren recently launched a cashmere recycling program in partnership with Re-Verso that makes it a breeze to ship items to Prato, Italy, to help support the circular economy.

Can You Machine Wash Cashmere?

Machine-washing cashmere is generally a risky idea because the agitation from the machine can damage the cashmere fibers and the shape of your pieces. In most cases, youll want to dry clean or hand-wash, plus you can spot treat between full washes.

Still, there are exceptions to this rule in the form of machine-washable cashmere. These pieces, like Naadams Travel Cashmere Turtleneck ($250) and Ralph Laurens Cashmere Shawl-Collar Cardigan ($385), may make the maintenance process a little easier, but taking extra care during the process is essential. Youll want to only wash using cold water on a delicate cycle, protect the piece using a mesh garment washing bag, skip the dryer, and lay the sweater flat to air dry.

Don’t Store Your Cashmere Dirty

To avoid moth-eaten cashmere, never storing your pieces dirty is key. "Moths eat microscopic particles of skin on clothes," designer and eponymous brand founder Olivia von Halle tells To avoid this problem, she recommends keeping worn but clean items on a separate chair in your room until theyre ready for a wash, as well as investing in moth protection care tools like the ones by Total Wardrobe Care.

Follow the Labels Cleaning Instructions

Reading the label and following the instructions is key to keeping any of your favorite items in their best shape, and this tip is especially true with cashmere. "Cashmere pieces are so special that its really key to care for them the right way, to ensure their beauty lasts forever," Halle tells us. "The instructions on the labels are specifically tailored to the product and material, so it is important to follow them—not all kinds of cashmere require the same care. For example, we recommend storing our SilkCash flat and folded as, if hung, it will stretch and lose its shape over time. PureCash, however, may be hung. Its the little things that make the difference over time."

Don’t Over-Wash It

Cashmere doesnt need a wash after every wear. In fact "due to cashmeres more delicate nature, you should avoid washing it too frequently," Karen Millens brand director, Natasha Hackett, tells us. "Its recommended that you wash it approximately every four wears."

If you get a stain on your cashmere piece, spot-treating can easily do the trick without a complete wash. When its finally time to wash your cashmere, dry-cleaning is an option, and thats probably ideal for high-priced heirloom pieces. You can also often hand-wash your piece with a delicate detergent, but always double-check the brands washing recommendations first. As for detergents, The Laundresss Wool & Cashmere Shampoo ($30) is a high-rated option (Ive used it and had great results), and DedCools Dedtergent ($35) is also safe for use on cashmere.

When hand-washing a cashmere piece, avoid soaking it too long (the max should be 30 minutes). Also, when removing the access water, never wring it out. What I do instead is roll my pieces up like a burrito and gently press the water out.

Invest in a Pilling Tool

When I took out my pair of Theory joggers and saw pilling, I was alarmed at first. Actually, though, pilling is a normal part of the life of cashmere, and there are steps you can take to remove it. "Cashmere is generally more prone to pilling not because of its quality—its just a natural process that happens when the fibers in the yarns rub against each other, and this usually occurs when you wear it a lot," Halle explains. "The best way to reinvigorate them if any pilling happens over time is to use an electric fabric shaver." Try Steamerys Pilo 2 Fabric Shaver ($65) or Conairs Battery-Operated Fabric Shaver ($15) next time you get pilling on cashmere or another knitwear piece, and see if it improves the look.

Always Fold and Store Your Pieces

Hanging cashmere like your other knitwear might feel like the best way to store it, but Hackett says to always fold it instead. "The gravity from hanging can pull it out of place," she explains. "When folding a cashmere [sweater], you should fold the arms under the [sweater], then horizontally fold it in half to keep any creasing lower." Additionally, when storing cashmere for long periods, she recommends placing it in a cotton or linen bag with a proper closure: "This allows the air to still get in, whilst avoiding the risk of moths ruining your pieces."

The Final Takeaway

Caring for cashmere isnt as complicated as it seems at first glance: As our experts explained, following a few key practices when caring for your garments will help keep them in their best shape. While you do have to give cashmere pieces special attention in comparison to many other materials, its not too complicated if you follow the instructions on the label as well as the tips here. A little extra TLC goes a long way, allowing you to maintain a luxe, ultra-soft knitwear collection for years to come.

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