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How to Care for Your Cashmere Sweaters

January 17, 2019

I love my cashmere! But cashmere sweaters can be pricey, right? While I never pay full price for these soft, luxurious sweaters, I also don’t like the dry cleaning bills that come with caring for them. That’s why I learned to care for my sweaters without ever taking them to the cleaners. So today I’m sharing with you how to care for your cashmere sweaters (and your other precious knits) without ever leaving home.

how to care for cashmere sweaters

Purchasing Cashmere Sweaters

Let’s begin with the purchase. It’s true that some cashmere is more luxurious and soft than others, and in most cases you do indeed get what you pay for. But you don’t necessarily need to shop the luxury brands to get good cashmere that can look beautiful season after season. Here are some things to look for when purchasing your next cashmere sweater:

  • True cashmere sweaters should be labeled as 100% cashmere. Otherwise, the manufacturer has to state that it’s a blend. I suggest buying true cashmere.
  • Look for a tight knit. Preferably, you shouldn’t be able to see through the sweater. It should be dense even though the fabric is lightweight.
  • You don’t want the sweater to have short fibers, which are more prone to pill with wear. Instead select sweaters with a little longer fibers sticking out from the surface.
  • All cashmere will pill some with wear. So this is not an indicator of poor quality. However, you are looking for cashmere that will tend to pill less.
  • Look for sweaters in vibrant colors. Jenna Lyons, a senior vice president of women’s design at J.Crew, says, “When you see an intense vibrancy in color, that means that the yarn started off very clean in its raw state and that the dying process was top quality.”
  • Buy cashmere from labels you trust for good quality. So you don’t have to go with the luxury labels, but simply select sweaters from the same labels you trust to produce other good quality garments. They’re more likely to be looking for repeat customers, so they’ll maintain high standards with their cashmere.
  • You won’t go wrong buying classic cashmere sweater designs at the end of the season when they are marked down 40% or more. Those sweaters will definitely look just as current and fresh next year.

In the following shopping widget I’m providing cashmere sweaters that are currently marked down significantly. I can’t personally vouch for the quality of any of these sweaters except the Talbots and Antonio Melani sweaters. But I’ve tried to select reliable brands.

Every Day Use

Wear your cashmere! No need to save it for special occasions only. Cashmere looks lovely with dress pants and skirts, but it also pairs nicely with jeans. So definitely wear it.

After wearing your sweater is a good time to go ahead and de-pill it with a sweater comb made for cashmere. I suggest this one. By the way, this little comb also makes a great gift for the women in your life…or the men if they wear a lot of cashmere or other fine sweaters.

It is recommended that you don’t wear the same sweater two days in a row. The sweater needs to breathe between wears. So you may want to lay your worn sweater gently over the back of a chair or on a clothes rack after taking it off. Just be careful not to stretch it out.

Before storing your sweater, you might want to freshen it with this wool and cashmere spray. It’s an anti-bacterial spray that removes odors and freshens with a nice scent. I suggest using this spray instead of washing if at all possible because you will lose some of the life of the sweater with every washing.

Don’t hang your cashmere sweaters, but fold and stack them loosely on a shelf with plenty of breathing room. You don’t want to crowd them.

Washing Your Sweaters

While you certainly do not need or want to wash your cashmere sweaters with every wearing, you will need to wash them eventually. And you definitely want to wash all of your sweaters before storing them away in the off season. There is no need to take your sweaters to the dry cleaners, and many experts prefer that you don’t.

You can hand wash or machine wash your cashmere sweaters on gentle cycle. Make sure you use cold water, either way.

  • Before washing, you might need to treat any stains or underarm residue. I suggest this wash and stain bar rather than your normal prewash treatment. It is made to work gently on the natural fibers. Or you could use this unscented liquid stain solution.
  • If your sweater has odors from smoke, sweat or other elements, you may want to soak it in this scented vinegar presoak treatment.
  • To wash your sweater in the washing machine, simply turn the sweater wrong side out, put it in a mesh laundry bag and put it in the washer with other delicates. Make sure you turn the setting to delicate or cold water wash and rinse. I suggest this wool and cashmere shampoo. Be sure to remove the sweaters from the washer as soon as the cycle has ended.
  • If you prefer to wash your sweaters by hand, turn the sweaters wrong side out and put them (probably one at a time unless you have a large handsoak tub) in a tub or sink filled with cool water and a little cleanser. I prefer this wool and cashmere shampoo. But you can also use Woolite or any other hand wash soap.
  • The recommendations vary about whether or not you should let the sweater soak when hand washing. But, because I’ve been warned that the cashmere loses strength the longer it is wet, I choose not to let mine soak. I simply gently wash the garment, allowing the sudsy water to move through it as I dunk it and swish it and gently press it.
  • Rinse the sweater completely in cold water. Be thorough. Then do not squeeze or wring out the sweater, but simply press out as much moisture as you can over the sink or tub.
  • Next lay out a fresh, absorbent bath towel and lay the sweater on it in one layer. Roll the towel up with the sweater in it, like a cake roll. Once again, don’t squeeze or wring the towel, but press out as much moisture as possible. Unroll the towel, remove the sweater and lay it out on a drying rack to dry. You can reshape the sweater gently if needed. Don’t dry the sweater in direct sunlight. You can turn it over when the top seems to be dry and the bottom needs more air.
  • Of course, you’ll also want to lay out a sweater you remove from the washing machine to air dry.

Getting Your Sweater Ready to Wear or Store

When  your sweater is dry it may be slightly wrinkled and misshapen. Don’t iron it. Instead, you can hang it on a hanger and use a steamer to freshen and reshape it. You can also use a steamer between wearings or after taking your sweater out of storage just to freshen it.

After steaming the sweater, remember to fold it and place it on a well ventilated shelf. Now you can look forward to wearing it again!

During the off season, store your clean cashmere sweaters in cotton bags. Do not store your natural fiber sweaters in plastic bags. You can also store them in a cedar lined chest, which is what I do, but do not put moth balls with them.

Shop the Post:

The following shopping widget contains the cleaning and maintenance supplies I mentioned above.

Do you enjoy wearing cashmere sweaters? Or maybe you also own cashmere gloves, wraps, scarves or hats? How do you care for them? Do you have additional tips or questions? I’d love to hear from you today.

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Blessed for My Day

Did your mom ever tell you to be careful of the company you keep? Mine certainly did, and I passed that advice down to my kids, too. Whoever we hang with tends to rub off on us.

That’s why it’s so important that we walk daily with the Lord. The more time we spend with Him, the more we will become like Him. But how do we do that practically speaking? One thing I do is listen only to Christian radio as I drive my car. Or sometimes I even turn the radio off and spend that time talking to the Lord. I also found I need to begin each day with a Christian song or hymn that draws me into His presence. Then I spend some time reading my Bible and praying. 

What do you do to keep the good company of Jesus throughout the day so that He rubs off on you?

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. ~ Galatians 5:16



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xoxo, Kay
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12 thoughts on “How to Care for Your Cashmere Sweaters

  1. My mom always used Ivory dishwashing detergent for washing delicates and her cashmere sweaters. It is very mild. I use it on all my delicates in the washing machine (on gentle/delicate cycle). Works great. And as you do, I always roll my sweaters from the washing machine in a towel and then lay it flat to dry. That gets a lot of the moisture out. I now have to wash my mother’s cashmere sweaters as she is in memory care, and I have asked that they not wash her sweaters with her laundry. Thanks for your tips.

  2. Ha! I wish I had this post two days ago…..before I dropped off my first-ever cashmere sweater at the dry cleaners! ? Oh well, at least I know what to do going forward!

  3. I love that you say not to save it…that’s my motto for everything. Life is too short so enjoy the clothes we have. It’s like using the good china (which we just did last night).
    As a knitter, we always say you shouldn’t soak the natural fibers, so I would think cashmere would be the same. You get it wet, agitate a little, and then get the water out.

  4. Thank you for this information, I am new to sweaters. I did however pop my cashmere sweater in the dryer ? and it shrunk big time. Is it salvageable?