How to Wash Cashmere

By: Contributors  | 
A hand adding a delicate mustard yellow cashmere sweater to a basin of soapy water.
The safest way to protect your cashmere items while washing them is to opt for hand washing. ReaLiia / Shutterstock

Caring for your luxurious cashmere garments requires a certain finesse, and knowing how to wash cashmere is the first step in maintaining its softness and longevity. Treasured for its softness and warmth, cashmere is a delicate fabric that needs special attention. Whether you're looking to clean a favorite cashmere sweater or prepare your winter wardrobe for storage, understanding the correct washing techniques will ensure your pieces remain in pristine condition. Here is your comprehensive guide to washing cashmere, offering step-by-step instructions and tips to keep your cherished garments looking and feeling their best!


Understand the Fabric First

Before diving into the washing process, it's important to understand what makes cashmere so unique. Cashmere comes from the soft undercoat of cashmere goats and pashmina goats. It's renowned for its softness, warmth, and lightweight nature. Knowing the delicate nature of cashmere sweaters and garments will help you appreciate why gentle handling is crucial.


Read the Label

Always start by reading the washing instructions on the label of your cashmere garment. Manufacturers provide specific care instructions to help you maintain the natural pile and softness of the fabric. Adhering to these washing instructions is the first step to ensuring your cashmere knits stay in perfect condition.


Hand Washing is Key

Hand washing cashmere is preferred over machine washing. Fill a basin with cool or tepid water and a small amount of delicate detergent or specially formulated cashmere shampoo.

Submerge your cashmere garment and gently agitate the water with your hands to evenly distribute the soap. This method is less time-consuming than you might think and is crucial for maintaining the integrity of the fibers. Allow it to soak for 30 minutes before rinsing the soap with cold water.


Use the Right Detergent

Choosing the right detergent is vital when washing cashmere. Opt for a mild, delicate cycle detergent specifically designed for wool and cashmere. These specially formulated detergents help maintain the softness of the fabric while ensuring thorough cleaning. If you don't have any on hand, you can use a good hair shampoo since it's hair.


Avoid Fabric Softener

Never use fabric softener when washing cashmere. Fabric softeners can break down the fibers over time, reducing the softness and potentially causing damage. Stick to gentle, cashmere-specific detergents to keep your garments in top condition.


Gently Press, Don't Wring

After hand washing your cashmere, gently press the excess water out. Do not wring or twist the fabric, as this can cause stretching and misshaping. Instead, gently press the water out by laying the garment flat on a dry towel and rolling it up to absorb the moisture.


Sweater Flat Drying

The best way to dry cashmere is to lay the sweater flat on a dry towel or drying rack. Avoid hanging your cashmere, as this can stretch the fabric and alter its shape. Ensure the garment is reshaped to its original form and let it air dry away from direct sunlight and heat.


Machine Wash with Caution

If you must machine wash cashmere, do so with extreme caution. Use a mesh laundry bag to protect the garment and select the delicate cycle with cool water. Always use a mild detergent and avoid the spin cycle to reduce the risk of stretching and misshaping.


Dry Cleaning as an Alternative

While hand washing is best, dry cleaning is a suitable alternative for washing cashmere. Professional dry cleaners understand how to handle delicate fabrics and can ensure your cashmere garments are cleaned without damage. If you choose to dry clean, do so sparingly to maintain the fabric's natural oils and softness.


Refresh Between Washes

Cashmere doesn't need to be washed after every wear. To refresh your cashmere sweaters in between wears, air them out and use a fabric spray designed for wool and cashmere. This will help maintain freshness and reduce the need for frequent washing.

Storing Cashmere Properly

Once your cashmere is clean and dry, store it properly to avoid damage. Fold your sweaters and place them in a breathable cotton storage bag to protect them from moths and other pests. Remember to avoid hanging cashmere, as this can stretch and misshape the garments over time.

The Takeaway

Washing cashmere requires a gentle touch and attention to detail. By following these tips and understanding the specific needs of your cashmere sweaters and garments, you can keep them looking and feeling luxurious for years to come. Remember to hand wash when possible, use the right detergent, avoid fabric softeners, and always lay your cashmere flat to dry. With proper care, your cashmere will continue to provide warmth and comfort, proving that a little extra effort goes a long way in maintaining the beauty and longevity of this exquisite fabric.

This article was updated in conjunction with AI technology, then fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.