In the world of fast fashion, there are just a few who prefer slow fashion and those products which are handmade. Cashmere is one such fabric that takes a long time to get materialised. From raw Cashmere lumps to finished products, Cashmere wraps, scarves, and sweaters take years to complete. Cashmere is a fabric that has to be manually acquired from the Himalayan ranges and brought to factories for processing. These products are handmade, and hence one has to take proper care and precaution when wearing, washing and storing these luxury gentle products.
What is Cashmere
Cashmere is a luxury fine wool that is found growing on the Himalayan goat’s underbelly. The wool is fine, warm and exceptionally soft. This fine wool grows on the underbelly, neck and other few areas of the Cashmere goat in the winter season. The wool is the best source of heat for the animal as the areas where it is found experience harsh cold. As soon as summer arrives, the goat starts losing its hair which is collected by its herders. The wool is cleaned and sent for processing.
Processing of Cashmere is a challenging task. Raw wool from the goat is cleaned thoroughly and sent for spinning. Spinning the wool transforms the wool lumps to long threads. These threads are super fine and almost invisible to the human eye (when seen from a distance). The threads are just 12 to 16 microns in diameter which makes them one fourth of a human hair. These threads are sent for further processing, which includes their weaving together to form fabric. This fabric is either used to make accessories or apparel. These can be later embroidered or printed and even dyed in a large assortment of colours, pastel and bright.
How to care for Cashmere
Since Cashmere is a delicate fabric, it is to be cared for as much as one can. A small forcible action can tear the fabric up easily. Hence washing, drying, storing and even ironing these luxury products can be a challenge. If Cashmere is washed in warm water, dried roughly or ironed the wrong way, there are chances of destroying the gentle fabric forever.
One of the most problems that occurs while handling a Cashmere product is shrinking. Often Cashmere users complain that their Cashmere products, especially Cashmere wraps shrink post wash. Being expensive and getting damaged after just one wash is simply devastating for a user. Hence we today collected some useful information that will act as a guide to Cashmere care.
Washing Cashmere gently, drying it naturally in air and ironing it with steam iron are some tips to make your Cashmere product live a long life. But what about shrinking?
Shrinking of Cashmere
Does Cashmere shrink? How do you shrink it and how do you reverse its shrinkage? Here’s a handy guide to Cashmere care that addresses all of these.
Cashmere buyers are luxury enthusiasts. They are those who hunt down the market for the best fabrics in the market and choose the most exquisite pieces for themselves. They are ardent lovers of handicrafts and supporters of handmade, who make it a point that their purchase affects society positively.
And most importantly, they want their Cashmere to last a lifetime. They are concerned about its care because they understand how precious it is. Cashmere care determines the life and appearance of the fabric. Maintain it well, and it will look as good as new even after a decade. Lax in caring and it could begin appearing shabby. It's part of the reason why people often ask us about cashmere shrinkage- Does Cashmere shrink upon washing or dry cleaning? How to shrink a cashmere and if it has shrunk accidentally, how does one restore it? How to shrink a cashmere sweater, in particular, does cashmere shrink when dry cleaned, how to shrink a cashmere without damaging it?
We are here to address these common questions for you
Does Cashmere Shrink?
We are often asked this one question- Does Cashmere shrink?
Its lovers might hate this answer, but unfortunately, Cashmere does shrink if not washed with care.
While handwashing is the best bet for a genuine Cashmere, if you use hot water in the process, you will see your Cashmere will have shrunk in size when it dries up (an ideal trick for those who are looking for tips on how to shrink a cashmere).
So here’s the trick-use cold water to clean this gentle fabric. If you’ve got too much dirt, dust, or harsh stains on your Cashmere, use mildly lukewarm water but never hot. In fact, the maximum temperature of the water should be 20 degrees and you should soak your Cashmere in it for a maximum of 15 minutes.
This doesn’t just apply to washing. Any type of heat will shrink it. That is why Cashmere is never made to come in direct contact with heat. This might sound like a big con. But guess what there are people who actually want to shrink their Cashmere (and often ask how to shrink a cashmere). It might be good news for them after all
Does Cashmere Shrink When Dry Cleaned?
Most of the labels which you see stitched on your Cashmere read “dry clean only”. Dry Cleaning is the second-best option for cleaning a Cashmere fabric, next to hand washing. But does Cashmere shrink when dry cleaned? No.
Dry cleaning does not cause any immediate harm to the fabric like shrinkage but yes, in the long run, it may cause some damage in the form of early pilling. Dry cleaning involves soaking the fabric in chemicals. The damage caused by these chemicals is slow but sure.
The best way hence is to hand wash your Cashmere in lukewarm or cold water. The process is time-consuming. But it is worth the effort.
How to Shrink a Cashmere?
It might seem weird but we are often asked this-how to shrink cashmere-sweaters, shawls, etc. Here’s a quick two-step process that exactly tells you how to shrink a cashmere carefully.
- Hand wash your Cashmere like you normally would but change the temperature of the wash water. For shrinkage, you’ll need HOT water (as hot as you can stand). Once you are done, rinse the fabric with cold water
- Leave it to dry after patting the excess water out and do not stretch it back to its normal size.
Ta da! Your Cashmere has shrunk the way you wanted it to!
Now that you are well versed with how to shrink a cashmere, let’s proceed to a process that is just the opposite-unshrinking it.
Also read: How to wash Cashmere at home?
How to Unshrink Cashmere?
Can you fix shrunken cashmere? The answer is a resounding YES. Shrinkage isn’t liked by everyone. So just like there’s a small group of people who ask us how to shrink a cashmere, there is a larger one that asks us how to unshrink it. If you are among the latter and weren’t aware of the tips and hacks of impeccable Cashmere care, don’t panic. Like there's a solution for “How to shrink a cashmere”, there’s one for the opposite too. Here’s how
- Hand wash your Cashmere with mild detergent and cold water for 10 minutes. Avoid hot water because it may cause further shrinkage.
- Remove excess water from the fabric by pressing it gently with your hands. Next, lay out your Cashmere on a flat surface
- Slowly and gently, pull in opposite directions and stretch the fabric in small little bits at a time. In a nutshell, you need to pulse the fabric a bit so the fibres can relax and then be stretched properly again. (This step can make or mar your Cashmere. If you are not patient enough or your fabric is of poor quality, you run the risk of stretching a hole in your sweater. Understand that your fabric is delicate and be gentle)
- Maintain uniformity while you are stretching the fabric.
- Try to stretch large sections in one go. If you work on smaller sections with a couple of fingers, your Cashmere could end up wonky looking.
- Once it's all stretched out to the desired shape or dimension, leave it to dry (for a couple of days)
- Find a garment or wrap which is similar in size and shape to the shrunken piece of clothing. Trace an outline of this garment/cloth on a piece of parchment paper.
- Follow the regular hand washing process by sinking in your Cashmere in tepid soap water so that the fibres loosen up a bit.
- Carefully remove the excess water without stretching or wringing.
- Place your Cashmere on the parchment paper and place this paper on a flat surface. Gently stretch the fabric in such a way that it matches the measurements of the outline. If the Cashmere resists stretching, use steam to loosen the fabric and then stretch it.
- Place heavy and clean objects over the stretched garment till it is completely dried.
- Once dried, your fabric looks like it was never shrunk before.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cashmere Care
1. How do you shrink Cashmere Without Damaging It?
Well, hot water is the key to shrink a Cashmere without harming it. Hand wash your Cashmere fabric in hot water and then rinse with cold water. Pat the excess water and let it dry without pulling it back to its original shape
2. Can I put Cashmere in the dryer?
No. Cashmere is an extremely delicate fabric and putting your Cashmere in the dryer will ruin its appearance, fibre and texture. Let it dry naturally. It may take a few days but it is worth the effort.
3. Does Cashmere Shrink when Dry Cleaned?
No, dry cleaning does not shrink the Cashmere. In fact, it is a recommended method of Cashmere care if you don’t want to undertake the hassles of washing it by hand.
4. Can you fix shrunken Cashmere?
Yes. You can unshrink your Cashmere by hand washing it with cold or lukewarm water and pulling it symmetrically while it dries naturally on a flat surface. Now that you have mastered how to shrink a Cashmere and how to unshrink it, you are ready to add this plush fabric to your everyday.
Also read: What does Cashmere feel like?
General care of Cashmere
For your Cashmere wraps and apparel to last long, even after years of use, here are some pro tips from our fabric experts.
- Always hand wash your Cashmere in lukewarm water. Do not use very cold or very hot water. Both temperatures will ruin your Cashmere of its natural texture.
- Do not wring the product when you want to squeeze water out of it post washing. Instead squeeze it gently between your hands.
- Never hang your Cashmere product for drying. This will de-shape it. Instead lay it down flat and let it air dry.
- Can you put Cashmere in the dryer? No! Never tumble dry your Cashmere. Questions about if one can put Cashmere in the dryer are asked frequently. Please note that if you do so, there are high chances of it shrinking. Instead lay it on a clean, flat surface and let it dry in open hair
- Do not dry your Cashmere in direct sunlight.
- Do not store your Cashmere in the places where other fabric is stored. Instead wrap it in a muslin cloth and store it in a cool dry place. If possible, place naphthalene balls or other moisture absorbents in the same shelf but away from the product.
- While storing Cashmere, do not pile these over each other. Instead, keep a layer of tissue paper or any moisture absorbing paper in between consecutive layers. This way, it won't cause friction.
- Do not iron the Cashmere product directly with an iron. If you do not have a garment steamer, place a cotton or any fine layer between the iron and the Cashmere product you are ironing.
The above guide is useful for any type of Cashmere you own. We aim to empower Cashmere lovers with all the knowledge they need to make their cherished pieces last a lifetime. Your Cashmere will be your companion forever, if you care for it the best way possible.