We all know cashmere as a luxury item, coveted for it's supple, super-soft feel, lightness, supreme warmth and ease of wear. Suitable almost the whole year-round, cashmere embodies easy style - just throw on a simple V-neck with cool jeans & brogues and head on out!
Cashmere goats are amazing creatures. Living in areas subject to a wide range of temperatures, their hair has thermoregulatory properties which protect the goat from both high and low temperatures. The fineness, strength, loftiness and softness of the hair is what makes cashmere garments so light yet warm and long-lasting.
Given the investment often required in these wardrobe staples, here's how to care and store your cashmere knitwear to enjoy for many seasons to come.
While many care labels recommend dry cleaning cashmere, you can gently hand-wash 100% cashmere garments in cool water mixed through with an appropriate cashmere shampoo (personally, we love using Vaska's Perfect Laundry Detergent or The Laundress Wool & Cashmere Shampoo). Gently dunk and squeeze your knits to mix the shampoo through them, and then again to remove any excess suds - without rubbing or wringing your knit! If in need, leave your knits to soak for 10 minutes. Then, drain the sink and carefully rinse out in cool water until all shampoo has been removed and the water runs clear. Always keep the temperature consistent to avoid shrinking your knit. To remove any excess moisture, roll your knit gently in a dry towel and then lay it flat on a fresh towel (never hang!!), gently pulled into it's shape, to air dry. Ensure you dry away from windows, direct sun and heaters.
TIP: Remember that knitwear becomes heavy when filled with water, so take care when rinsing (always keep it in a bundle, don't hold it out of the water by the shoulders as this can stretch it!), and have your towels handy. We also like washing our knits inside out for a proper clean and to avoid friction and fading.
If you have a machine with a hand wash or delicate cycle that you trust, by all means use it! Just ensure that the wash is always on cold and use a wash bag to protect your knits whilst in the machine.
When wearing, try to keep your knit away from rough items which can snag or cause a hole (studded bags or sharp jewellery for instance).
This is where a trusted dry cleaner can be particularly helpful. However, you should treat stains immediately so this may require your attention before you can visit your cleaner. Treat stains as follows:
- immediately apply a stain remover by dabbing (never rub) and gently working it into the stain;
- after the stain remover has penetrated the stain, wash as described above without giving any special attention to the stained area.
Pilling on cashmere is not a sign of poor quality but rather a natural characteristic of the fine cashmere fibres being rubbed when your knit is being worn - put simply, the abrasion of the delicate fibres into balls. Ever notice that your hip has more balls on it? This is likely where you carry your handbag or wear your seatbelt! Pilling is normal but better-quality cashmere will pill considerably less and should not pill after the first few wears. Funnily enough, sometimes different colours of the same exact knit can pill quite differently, which is due to the dying process required to achieve different colour depths.
You can de-pill your knits by carefully removing the balls with a cashmere comb (recommended for fine gauge knits), electric depiller or sweater stone (recommended for heavier weight knits). Pilling should settle after the first couple of washes. Ensure you don't depill too often as this can result in holes!
The best way to store cashmere is to keep your garments folded and secured in breathable cotton bags. Never hang your sweaters as over time this will lead to stretching and sagging. Ensure your knits are clean before you put them away as moths are attracted to natural fibres with body oils and remnants of your perfume (as a side note, finding moths in your knitwear, or the evidence of them, is a sickening discovery and feels like a personal violation - avoid, avoid, avoid!). Use mothballs, cedar or rosemary to help prevent the dreaded moth. We love Thurlby Herb Farm's beautiful natural products which work to repel unwanted invaders!
For perfectionists, fold your knits with a piece of tissue in the centre to prevent wrinkles.