Washing Cashmere

Washing Cashmere By Hand

Washing cashmere takes quite a bit of extra attention compared to your other wash and wear garments.  Many people love to wear this luxurious wool because of the feather-light, silken feel that it offers against their skin.  Traditionally, these garments are dry-cleaned but when trying to make budget cuts, you can wash them by hand if you are careful.

What Is Cashmere?

To understand why washing cashmere is such an intricate task, you should be educated on what exactly it comes from.  Despite how glamorous the material is, it simply comes from a Kashmir goat.  These animals are native to Mongolia but they are also bred in China, Iran, India, Tibet and recently by American herders.

Cashmere is harvested during the goat's molting season when they are sheared down.  The throat and underbelly is where the finest cashmere is created from, these are the garments that are exceptionally soft and offer less pilling.  The shorter fibers that are taken from their legs are less expensive but considerably heavier.

Washing Cashmere

When you are ready to relieve yourself of those hefty dry cleaning bills and do your part to help protect the environment against toxins from dry cleaners, follow this simple guide for washing cashmere by hand.

  1. Remove all visible debris from the garment including lint, human or animal hair and loose threads, carefully with your fingers.
  1. Fill a bucket with about one gallon of water and two tablespoons of Dreft.  This is a laundry detergent that is extremely gentle and formulated for babies.  It can be found in nearly every major supermarket.  This is one step you don't want to alter to try to save more money.  It is not recommended to trust your cashmere to a generic brand.  One bottle of Dreft lasts quite awhile. Always use room temperature water.
  1. Submerge your cashmere article in the solution and agitate very gently by moving it around with your hands.  Some people find it easiest to keep lifting and then submerging the article again.  Regardless of what method you use, avoid any squeezing or stretching.  Continue to hand wash for a few minutes until you think that the garment is completely clean.
  1. The hardest part of the process is not actually washing cashmere but rather rinsing it.  The easiest way to do this is to drain all of the soapy solution from the bucket and replace it with clean water at room temperature.  Repeat the whole agitation process that you completed in step three to remove all of the soap.  If you went a little overboard on the soap which many people do their first time, you may have to drain the water and repeat the process a third time with clean water.  However, if you use the correct ratio of soap to water, you really shouldn't have to do this a third time.  Finish your hand washing process by wringing the garment out very carefully.  Do not pull or excessively twist or you can end up with a piece stretched out of shape.
  1. Lay your cashmere article flat on a very clean surface once you have squeezed as much water out as you can.  If you don't have a drying rack, you may just want to lay a sheet or a quality piece of fabric down on your counter or washing machine and use that to lay your piece of clothing on.  It is important that the whole piece is completely flat or you can end up with stretching.  For example, if one sleeve of a sweater is flat while the other sleeve is hanging, one will probably dry longer than the other.  Never under any circumstance place a cashmere piece of clothing in the dryer, unless you are purposely trying to really shrink it to fit a small dog or a doll.