Cashmere is one of the most luxurious fibres in the world. It is acquired from Ladakh, where an exotic, rare goat grows it as a down coat. This coat is combed off the goat’s body and processed to produce Cashmere wraps, shawls, scarves, and other accessories. But handling this gossamer fabric is not an easy task. This is because Cashmere is one of the finest, gauzy, and lightweight fibres in the world. Its yarn has a diameter of just 12 - 16 microns, and the produced wrap or sweater is under 500 grams in weight. This makes the fabric delicate, and one has to remain pretty careful when washing cashmere.
We would have remained careful while wearing Cashmere had not the issue of washing cashmere haunted us in our dreams. As soon as Cashmere needs cleaning, women do panic, as washing cashmere at home seems impossible. What if it shrinks, what if it gets damaged, or what if it pills and isn't fluffy anymore? All these questions and more make women hand over their precious products to laundry, who dry clean them, which is the best alternative. But what if you do not have the time or the resources to do so.
Our fabric experts came up with several methods and busted several myths relating to the washing of Cashmere. Let's answer the most basic question first.
Can you Wash Cashmere?
Yes, you can wash Cashmere, and that too at home. The market has hundreds of brands offering Cashmere washing shampoos and spot cleaning products that make your product as fresh and clean as new. The best way to wash is to hand wash cashmere. Pour some Cashmere shampoo into a tub of lukewarm water and soak your shawl/wrap into it. Let it remain soaked for at least 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, gently squeeze the sweater or wrap made of Cashmere and let the soapy water out.
Rinse your Cashmere in cold water by pressing it against the wall of the tub with your hands. Be Gentle while you do so. Do not wring your product, as wringing can deform it for life
Can I wash my Cashmere in Washing Machine?
With super precautions and care, yes. You can wash your Cashmere in a washing machine too. Just place your wrap in a washing mesh into the washing machine, and set a cold temperature. Don't forget to put the spin on low, and wait for the required time. When the cycle is complete, remove it immediately to avoid its creasing.
Always use a hand wash setting to wash Cashmere. Harsh washing can lead to the shrinking or felting of this delicate product.
Also read: How to Unshrink Cashmere?
How to Dry Cashmere?
Cashmere should never be wrung or pulled too much for drying. Nor should you use a dryer for drying Cashmere, apparel, or wraps. It will shrink, or simply deteriorate the quality of your precious buy. Instead, simply lay your product down on a towel, and roll the towel so that it absorbs the extra water. Open this roll, and replace the wet towel with a dry towel. Let it sit for a few days, till your shawl or wrap is fully dry.
Do not put Cashmere in direct sunlight. Leave it alone and let it air dry naturally.
Getting Rid of stains?
For spot cleaning your Cashmere, it is better to hand it over to the laundry. Some might advise you to use dish soap over the spot and later wash it with vinegar. But that would be too hectic and risky for a layman to do.
Or else, there are a number of spot cleaners in the market. You can use the best amongst them, and get rid of stains from your Cashmere.
How often to wash your Cashmere?
If you wash a Cashmere after every use, it will damage and wither the product, besides decreasing from its life. You might end up discontinuing its use after just 2 or 3 years. Cashmere has to be washed once a year. As soon as the season of its use is over, get it washed and store it in a tidy place in your wardrobe. Next season, check if it requires cleaning. If it does, go for the hand wash process again, and you're good to go.
How long your Cashmere will live, and will it be worth wearing the next season depends on how you store it at the end of the current season. Cashmere is delicate, and a little moisture can be a breeding place for moths, who will take minutes to completely destroy your precious buy. Hence you have to make sure that the place you are choosing for Cashmere, is clean, dry, and disinfected.
Never place your Cashmere in plastic. Plastic causes moisture and moisture invites moth infestation. Instead use a newspaper or tissue paper type large sheets, and place your Cashmere into it. Such material keeps the area inside dry.
Make it a habit to wash your Cashmere at the end of the season, before storing it. Because of being in contact with your body, the wrap might have caught body oils, which can be breeding grounds for moths. Wash them, store them clean, so that you find them clean the next season.
A final word of Caution
With regards to any clothing item, especially wool products, always check the care label or instruction written over it. You will find mentioned the ideal temperature or the ideal washing conditions for your product.
However, it is not always necessary that if your label reads 'dry clean', it can't be washed at home. You can wash delicate wools such as Cashmere at home, but with great caution and care. Only if the label says “do not wash”, you can't use water on it, and use professional help instead.
With such care and concern about your precious Cashmere, you will find it to be your ideal companion for years to come. And by years, we mean at least 20 years.