Cashmere is a really popular fashion item that is usually associated closely with luxury. The fiber is well-known for being very soft and comfortable to wear in contrast to some other fabrics.
However, there are specific questions that often bug the minds of people regarding Cashmere, and we are going to look into some of them, including how to wash cashmere. To start, let us understand what exactly this fabric is.
What is Cashmere?
Cashmere is a fiber obtained from the hairs of Cashmere goats as well as Pashmina goats and some other exotic breeds of goats. Cashmere wool is finer, lighter, softer, and more durable than sheep wool. It provides extra warmth, approximately three times more insulating than sheep wool, without the characteristic itching that marks sheep wool.
Cashmere is closely related to the Kashmir shawl, which is a type of shawl often commonly identified by its distinctive weave made by the Kashmir ethnic group of India. The Kashmir shawl was made with fine wool gotten from Shahtoosh or Pashmina goats and was used back in the 16th century by Iranian and Mughal emperors. These emperors incorporated the Kashmir shawl as a fashion staple and often used it in honoring members of their court.
The word “Cashmere” was adopted by modifying the name “Kashmir” in a way that it can be easy to spell and pronounce in English. This adoption happened when the Kashmir shawl found its way into Europe in the late 18th century, where Queen Victoria of Great Britain and Empress Josèphine of France used it. The use of the Kashmir shawl by these two powerful women made it famous, and it is seen as a symbol of luxury and status.
To date, Cashmere garments are often synonymous with luxury, and finding a piece of clothing made from pure Cashmere wool is very expensive. Why so? Let’s find out.
Why is Cashmere so Expensive?
Cashmere wool is gotten from the soft undercoat of the Cashmere goat. The growth of these hairs depends on how cold the weather is because the hairs are designed to keep the goat warm during the harsh winter months. Therefore, the colder the weather gets, the more hairs the goat grows.
The Cashmere goat then undergoes molting by shedding off its hairs right before summer. The apparels made with Cashmere wool are very expensive because of three major reasons:
- The Scarcity of Raw Materials
The raw material, which is the soft undercoat of the Cashmere goat, is very scarce. Once the goat sheds its hairs, a single goat can account for up to 200g of Cashmere, a quality that is not even enough to produce a shawl.
According to reports, it will require the annual yield of 3-4 goats in order to produce a single Cashmere sweater. This is one of the major reasons why pure Cashmere garments are very expensive.
- The Complexity of the Manufacturing Process
The processes that need to be carried out in order to produce Cashmere apparel are very tedious. In terms of collecting the hairs, the Cashmere goats are not harmed in any way because they shed off their hairs right before the summer months to enable them to stay cooler.
However, the goat has two layers of hair, the coarse guard hairs, and the softer undercoat, which the Cashmere producer would have to collect from the body of the goat using a comb. Then, they need to be separated from each other to prevent the guard hairs from destroying the smooth and soft properties of the undercoats. The guard hairs can be used in the manufacture of brushes and several other non-apparel products.
- The Quality of the Yarn:
The exorbitant price of Cashmere is also highly affected by the quality of the yarn, which is determined by the length and thickness of the hairs. The longer and thicker the hair, the better the quality of the yarn.
A tightly knitted Cashmere garment indicates that two strands of yarn were twisted while producing the garment, and this gives it added strength and warmth, in contrast to the ones that are made using just one strand of yarn.
It is uncommon, though, to find a Cashmere garment that is relatively cheap. However, it is very important that you bear in mind that such garments are made with very little quality of Cashmere and a higher percentage of sheep wool. It is often sold by low-end Cashmere marketers who prefer to lower the Cashmere content of their products rather than raising the prices.
Therefore, it is virtually impossible to find a 100% pure Cashmere product that is cheap. Next, let’s talk about how to wash cashmere to increase its lifespan.
How To Wash Cashmere
Being a very delicate fiber, Cashmere requires extreme care. One important way to take care of your Cashmere is by paying close attention to how you wash it when there are stains on it.
Some Cashmere garments often come with a “dry clean only” label. However, the harsh chemicals used in dry cleaning usually affects the Cashmere adversely, thus, shortening its lifespan. Additionally, the heat generated during dry cleaning also causes the Cashmere to shrink and fade with time.
Cashmere is best cleaned by hand-washing, although it can be cleaned using a washing machine under certain conditions. In washing your Cashmere apparels, it is very vital to note that there are two elements required to ensure that the process is thorough without bringing any damage to the fiber. The two elements are having the right water temperature and making the washing process as gentle as possible, and that is why hand-washing is the best method to use in cleaning Cashmere.
The first step to take in hand-washing Cashmere is to fill up a basin or sink with water, with temperatures ranging from cold to lukewarm but never getting enough water to wash the items. The basin or sink must have a very smooth surface to avoid pulling or snagging the Cashmere apparel. You need to ensure that the sink or basin is spotless to prevent extra stains on the fabric.
The second step is to find a suitable soap that will be gentle on the fiber. Cashmere is just like your hair. It is made up of protein, which can be severely damaged when harsh chemicals are applied to it. So you need to use a detergent or soap that is very gentle. You have to squeeze just a little amount of the soap you are using into your bowl of water. You can also use the soap as a pre-treatment on the Cashmere garment by applying it to specific stains or areas that are prone to stains such as the armpit areas. Once you are done with the pre-treatment, you can then fully immerse the Cashmere in the water.
You will have to slightly swirl the garment in the water and gently, very gently, squeeze it for a couple of minutes to enable the soap molecules to fully penetrate the fabric and remove any stains on it. After you have done that, you need to leave the Cashmere to soak in the water for 15-20 minutes, but not for extremely long periods.
The third step is to rinse the Cashmere. Under no circumstances should you rinse Cashmere using running water. The reason for this is because the running water could change the shape of the fabric. To rinse the Cashmere, you need to drain out the soapy water while gently squeezing it to remove excess water from it. Then fill the sink or basin with clean water, squeezing the Cashmere as gently as you can to get rid of the soap left in it. Do this a couple more times to ensure that there is no leftover soap on the fabric. Drain the water finally and squeeze the Cashmere, but do not wring it.
The fourth and final step is to dry the Cashmere. You can spread the fabric on a clean and dry towel, carefully rolling it up so that the towel can absorb the moisture trapped in the fabric. Then, gently pick up the Cashmere and place it on another clean and dry towel, being careful not to wrinkle the fabric, and allow it to air dry completely.
The length of time that your Cashmere lasts depends largely on how gentle the washing process is. Therefore, you need to pay attention to this when thinking about how to wash cashmere materials.
How To Make Your Cashmere Last
Apparels made with the finest Cashmere yarn can last for a very long time, as it is one of the most durable fibers in the world. Garments that are made from Cashmere can last for a lifetime, but this depends significantly on the level of care that you give to it.
We will now look at some of the care routines on how to wash cashmere to ensure that they last for as long as possible.
Store Your Cashmere With Cedar Balls
Your Cashmere apparels must be stored in a dry and well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight. You should also ensure that your Cashmere garments are clean before you store them.
Storing dirty Cashmere will only draw the attention of moths, as sweat and other stains can make it very easy for female moths to lay their eggs. In addition to storing clean Cashmere garments in a dry place, you can also reduce your chances of finding a moth in your Cashmere by storing it with Cedar balls.
These cedar balls do a great job of keeping insects away from this delicate piece of clothing. However, it is vital to remember to renew them, as their scents fade with time constantly.
Do Not Hang Your Cashmere
When considering how to wash cashmere, you must bear in mind that hanging your Cashmere apparels causes them to stretch and lose their shape. It is always advisable to fold the fabric nicely without wrinkling it.
Remove Pilling Regularly
Pilling often occurs in areas that are regularly affected by friction such as under your arms, or your elbow where you carry your handbag. This is always the case with knitted garments made from natural fibers like Cashmere.
Therefore, when you notice any pilling on your Cashmere apparel, you can remove it using either a Cashmere comb or a garment bristle brush. Do not use razor blades to remove pills as they can damage the fibers and make it worse than it was.
However, to prevent pilling from occurring frequently, it is advisable to wash the Cashmere inside-out to reduce the friction between the outer surface of the fabric. It is also best to use a very gentle method of cleaning the fabric.
Do Not Wash Your Cashmere Too Often
Cashmere is a very delicate piece of fabric and should not be treated like other sturdy fabrics like cotton. You should not make it a habit of washing your Cashmere garment after every wear. Constantly washing the fabric causes it to lose its quality as time goes on.
Therefore, when you wear your Cashmere and notice that you did not sweat so much and that you had little to no encounter with any stains or spills, it is best to air dry it and wear it on another day before you can then wash it.
Never Dry Clean Your Cashmere
Dry Cleaning involves using chemicals to clean fabrics without the addition of water. So, the dry cleaning process is not actually “dry.” The chemicals that are used in the process are very harsh. They constitute a danger to both your health and the environment as well.
These chemicals should not be used on fabric as delicate as Cashmere. It instead causes considerable damage to the natural fibers, and this inevitably shortens the lifespan of the Cashmere.
Allow Your Cashmere To Rest
One of the best ways to care for your Cashmere is to give it a break. Irrespective of how much you love the garment, you should not wear it always. Continually wearing your Cashmere apparel causes them to fade quickly.
Therefore, leave your Cashmere to rest at intervals, probably during the summer, while doing your best to ensure that it is kept safe to prevent losing it to moths or damage by trapped moisture.
Despite being a delicate and expensive fiber, Cashmere does not demand much from you to keep it as fresh as new. Following the above care tips and many others will surely make it easier for you to maintain your Cashmere.
Tips on How to Wash Cashmere At Home
Cashmere should be washed when you notice any stains on it, such as sweat, food, and many more. You can wash Cashmere with a washing machine or using your hands.
However, as we have previously examined, hand-washing is the best way to wash your Cashmere. There are some extra tips that you can apply when washing your Cashmere at home.
Let’s look at some of them.
- Do not use regular soaps or detergents that are used in the day-to-day laundry to wash your Cashmere. Most of these soaps contain enzymes and bleaching properties, which are very harsh and cause the Cashmere fibers to dissolve and wear out.
Instead, you should invest in a mild soap that is specifically made for washing Cashmere. Otherwise, you can use mild baby shampoo to wash your Cashmere rather than subjecting it to the harsh regular laundry soaps.
- When washing your Cashmere, do not pull it out from the water while it is still wet. The weight of the water pulls the fabric down, thus stretching the Cashmere and making it lose its shape. It is better to gently squeeze out any excess water from the Cashmere.
- If you decide to use a washing machine to wash your Cashmere, be sure that you can be able to adjust the temperature to suit the nature of the fabric you want to wash. Also, make sure that the washing circle is very delicate to avoid snagging at the fabric. After a short spin in the washing machine, remember to remove your Cashmere immediately and dry by folding in a dry and clean towel.
- Do not try to remove every stain on your own. There are some stains that do not come out even after you have washed the fabric. Do not try to rub the stain as it can create a hole in the Cashmere. When you have tried every gentle method of washing the Cashmere, and the stain still refuses to go out, you can then take it to a professional dry cleaning services company like Soji.us to clean it.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cashmere Cleaning And Washing
When it comes to cleaning and washing of Cashmere, there are certain questions that are on the lips of everyone that has Cashmere in their wardrobe. Below is a list of some frequently asked questions about the cleaning and washing of Cashmere.
How Can I Protect My Cashmere?
When you wear a fabric that is as delicate as Cashmere, you need to be extremely careful, as any little mistake can ruin the natural fibers of the fabric. Therefore, to protect your Cashmere, you need to avoid washing it very often, and when you do, always use gentle methods such as hand-washing.
When you are wearing the Cashmere apparel, take care not to allow rough clothes or metal jewelry to come in contact with it to avoid snagging and damaging the fabric.
How Best Can I Store My Cashmere?
Your Cashmere can best be stored on a shelf in your wardrobe that is away from direct sunlight or any source of moisture. However, you always need to remember not to hang your Cashmere for a long time, as it causes it to stretch out.
If you are storing the Cashmere for very long periods, you need to fold it flat and keep it in breathable storage bags to prevent the buildup of moisture, which usually occurs when the fabric is placed in airtight plastic bags. You can also add some Cedar balls.
Can I Use Fabric Softener On Cashmere?
It is not advisable to use a fabric softener on your Cashmere. Instead of actually softening the Cashmere as the name suggests, these fabric softeners tend to leave a chemical layer on the Cashmere, thus, making it stiffer.
The best softener you can use on your Cashmere apparel is hand-washing and time. The longer a Cashmere garment stays, with proper care, the softer and better it gets. However, if you want to soften it more, you can incorporate a little amount of diluted white vinegar into your washing routine. When washing, add a few drops of white vinegar in the water to help soften the fabric.
Always bear in mind that heat is the greatest enemy of Cashmere garments, and so, you should not bring it close to hot water because it will completely ruin the structure of the Cashmere fibers.
How Often Can I Wash My Cashmere?
You can wash your Cashmere sweaters and jumpers after wearing it twice or thrice and if you do not come in contact with stains or spills. With Cashmere shawls, though, it is a different thing, as they do not often come in contact with sweat, so they can be washed once or twice in a particular season.
Additionally, natural fibers often have antibacterial properties that keep it looking fresh, and Cashmere is not an exception. Therefore, you do not need to wash it as much as you would wash synthetic fibers.
How Can I Remove Stains On My Cashmere?
Once you notice a stain on your Cashmere, you need to treat it immediately using cold water and a stain remover specifically designed for delicate fabrics like Cashmere. After that, you can hand-wash the fabric, leaving it to soak for a few extra minutes in the soapy water.
But bear in mind that you should not try to clean very tough stains on your own. Once you find a stain that you can not comfortably remove, it is best to take it to professional cleaners.
Cashmere is expensive, but the comfort that it affords makes the amount spent on its purchase seem insignificant. It is a fashion staple that should be adopted by everyone. We also believe that by practicing the measures outlined in this article on how to wash cashmere, you will get the most out of your cashmere clothing and give them the chance to last for a lifetime.