How to care for your cashmere remains one of our most frequently asked questions, so we had Karen, our Design Director for Apparel, share her tips.
You would think the most sought-after cashmere in the world would require a great deal of care, but what might seem an arduous task is in fact quite easy — even fulfilling, in a productive kind of way. Just a few simple tricks can prolong the life of your cashmere for years.
Like any wool, cashmere is naturally breathable and wicks moisture, so you can wear it as many as 50 times (read: excellent cost-per-wear) between washes. You can prolong the time between washes by wearing a tee or camisole underneath. Indeed, washing it too often will contribute to excessive pilling.
Here’s how to keep your cashmere looking and feeling wonderful.
HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR CASHMERE
Hand-dip in cold — never hot — water, using a mild detergent. Before you get started, always check the garment’s care label for suggested instructions that are specific to that cashmere style.
When drying your cashmere, prevent misshaping it by air-drying it flat, away from heat and direct sunlight. Do not twist or wring cashmere before laying it flat to dry.
Due to its loftiness, cashmere naturally pills. Rubbing or wringing cashmere with other garments will accelerate and amplify the pilling. Cashmere is easy to care for using a pumice sweater stone or a sweater comb, but you’ll want to keep the sweater flat and use a light, careful touch. You can find these sweater-care implements at major retailers.
TIPS FOR STORING CASHMERE
- Air out your cashmere at least 24 hours after wearing before you store it or wear it again.
- Fold and store on a dedicated shelf next to a glass of water to maintain humidity. Remember, hanging may cause stretching.
- Residue from body oils and grooming products will attract moths over time. Before you put your cashmere away for the season, wash it and make sure it is completely dry.
- A clean canvas container with a zipper closure is best. Canvas is breathable yet offers a barrier to keep moths away. Plastic is fine if you are storing for less than three months; you need to avoid condensation forming in the bag. Avoid cardboard boxes, because cardboard is not pH-balanced and could discolor or break down the cashmere fibers.
- Cedar balls or shavings add a nice scent, but avoid direct contact with the garments. Do not use mothballs.
YOUR QUESTIONS, ANSWERED
Q: Should I dry-clean my sweater? What about perspiration odors under the arms?
A: Dry-cleaning uses chemicals to remove stains, so we don’t like to recommend it. If you choose not to hand wash your cashmere, opt for a non-toxic cleaning method. Search online for a ‘green dry-cleaning’ or ‘professional wet-cleaning’ service near you.
Q: Despite my best efforts, I still get “pills” on my Garnet Hill cashmere sweaters. How do I remove them?
A: As we said above, pilling is normal for this natural fiber. We do use the highest quality fibers spun into strong two-ply yarns, twisted to resist pilling without compromising strength. These long, strong fibers take much longer to pill.
To reduce pilling, wash by hand and follow the instructions above and on the garment label. Since cashmere fibers are lofty, light, and delicate, a sweater will inevitably pill in areas predisposed to friction, i.e. under the arms. We recommend removing pills with a sweater stone or comb. Again, be careful and use a gentle touch. Do not yank pills with your fingers, as this will damage the yarn.
Q: Best way to store cashmere over the summer?
A: We don’t like to think of our cashmere as having to hibernate! We wear it year-round in air-conditioned spaces and on chilly evenings. If we haven’t convinced you, then before long-term storage, hand wash your cashmere and air dry it completely, using the tips and steps above.
Q: I have had cashmere sweaters ruined because of moths. For that reason I store them together, in a plastic tightly sealed zip bag for the summer months. During the season they move to a cedar chest. Is keeping them in the zip bag ok? I am so afraid of losing any more pieces.
A: Storing your sweaters in a plastic bag is fine, however we would not recommend storing them longer than three months, because changes in temperature could cause mildew or yellowing of light colors.
If you’re concerned about the possibility of moths, cedar is a natural moth repellent. Store your cashmere with cedar balls or a sachet of cedar chips (avoid direct contact with the cashmere).
Still have questions about how to care for your cashmere? Post them here! We’d love to hear from you.