Cashmere is one of the most luxurious fabrics to have in your wardrobe and the benefits of taking care of the material are bountiful.
Cheaper cashmere will most likely be blended with other fibres so always check the label, so you know what you are buying! Pure cashmere is a very precious material, and it will serve you for many warm snugly years if you look after it properly.
What is cashmere?
Cashmere is also known as Pashmina in Nepal. It is a diamond fibre extricated from the body of the mountain goat, Capra Hircus. This goat is a native of the Himalayan belt 10,000 feet above sea level. Existence of this nature’s wonder species is very harsh with extremely cold climate and scarce vegetation. It’s blessed with very thin, short and the softest wool found in nature. It has an exotically silky texture, weightless lightness but super warmth which, when wearing it next to the skin, provides a uniquely titillating experience which has been described as ‘Sensual Sublimity’ by our ancestors.
Pashmina, the finest cashmere wool, has been popular for centuries among royalty and other elites as it is the finest, most luxurious wool in the world. For a thousand years or more, this glorious wool has been prized for its warmth, lightness and durability. For lightness and warmth, Pashmina wool is unmatched. Delicate and soft to touch, it caresses the skin. It is not surprising that Pashmina has been successful in establishing its uniqueness among fashion wear thought out the world.
Why is cashmere so special?
Cashmere is made from the downy hair of goats. Just as birds have outer feathers and soft warm down underneath, goats have their main outer coat made of course guard hairs and then an undercoat of warm, soft down. These hairs are hollow, so they trap air which is why cashmere is so warm and insulating. It takes the down from more than one goat to make a jumper which is why it is so precious!
If maintained carefully, cashmere can last for years but such longevity requires a lot of love and affection. Gentle washing, correct storage and proper moth protection will all ensure your cashmere lasts.
Julia’s top 10 tips for caring for your cashmere
To keep your cashmere garments always clean and beautiful, here are some basic rules to follow:
1. Rest your cashmere garment
Do not wear the same garment too frequently. Allow the garment two or three days’ rest after a day’s wearing. A silk or Pashmina scarf goes well with cashmere tops and cardigans. Used between your cashmere top/cardigan and your neck, a scarf will also prevent powder or other cosmetics stains.
2. No rough accessories
Do not wear a cashmere garment next to rough clothing, metal necklaces, bracelets, belts and rough leather items such as crocodile leather bags. Dress up your cashmere with a silk scarf and pearl accessories instead of accessories with a rough surface.
3. Washing your cashmere
One of the most common questions asked is ‘can you wash 100% cashmere?’
In the past, I would have said to only wash cashmere by hand and I still stand by that for very expensive and fine knits, however, some cashmere is now pre-washed and can go in the machine. The label will tell you whether it can be washed in the washing machine on a wool or hand wash cycle. A cold hand wash is the safest if you are unsure. Always check the label for washing instructions.
The worst things for cashmere and other fine knits are lots of agitation and harsh detergent. This goes for both hand and machine wash, so be sure to use delicate laundry liquid which doesn’t contain bleaching agents or enzymes. Our laundry liquid is infused with natural Aloe Vera and rosemary oil and is perfect for cashmere and other delicate like silk.
When washing by hand, do not agitate the item too much. Avoid lifting it out of the bowl as the weight of the water will stretch and distort the weave. Do not wring the item either. Get rid of excess water by wrapping it in a ball and pressing on it in the empty sink. Another good tip is to lay the item on a flat bath towel and role it up like a Swiss role and gently squeeze.
4. Drying your cashmere
Squeeze gently, do not twist or wring. Twisting the wet sweater would stretch the shape of your sweater. Dry flat after removing excess water, away from direct heat and sunlight. Press with damp cloth, using a cool iron, iron from the inside of the garment.
5. Dry clean your cashmere
Some cashmere labels will specify ‘Dry Clean Only’. Dry cleaning can degrade any material so try to keep this to a minimum by making the item last as long as you can between cleans. Wear something under the garment to keep it away from your skin (if at all possible), air it or give it a quick steam to freshen it up between wears. We sell a great handheld steamer which has a nifty attachment to protect delicates.
6. De-pill your cashmere
The first thing you are likely to find with wear is the appearance of small pills or bobbles. These occur through friction so you will find them under the arms, at the lower back and the bottom area of longer garments through sitting. They even appear where seat belts and handbags cross over the shoulder and rest on the hip or tummy area.
You can regularly de-pill cashmere and other woollen items for that matter with a simple knitwear comb. Hold the cashmere taut and brush the comb across the pills with a brisk firm action. Have a look at our video guide for a full demonstration.
7. Repair holes in your cashmere
Holes can develop in cashmere either through friction, we explain more about this here, or because of clothes moths. Whatever the cause, fret not as they can be repaired. Our sister company, The Wardrobe Curator offers a cashmere mending service, and it comes back as good as new. If the item is old and you’re not that worried about how it looks, you can give it ago yourself with visible darning.
8. Store your cashmere
Make sure your cashmere is 100% dry before putting it back in your wardrobe because moths love the moisture within the fibres. We sell a brilliant knitwear storage bag which stores up to 10 folded tops/fine knits or 2/3 chunky knits. It is breathable and has a clear middle, allowing you to see what is in the bag. Using this will preserve the quality of your clothes, as well as ensuring that no moths can come into contact with your items.
9. Hang your cashmere
If you would prefer to hang your cashmere instead of storing in our bags, we have a range of hangers to keep the shape of your clothes. We stock rubber hangers, rubber hangers with clips, as well as velour hangers, allowing your clothes to never slip off the ends again. Hanging or folding cashmere carefully is extremely important for preserving the luscious material.
To further this, we sell handy little Chinese knots. These knots are elasticated and fit perfectly onto the end of your hanger, making sure your strappy tops never fall down again!
10. Protect your cashmere from moths
Careful storage will protect your cashmere and all woollens and delicate natural fibres from dust, mould, discolouration from UV and the dreaded clothes moth. If storing items for the long term, make sure they are clean. For starters, stains left for a long time can oxidise and are then impossible to get rid of, but food residues and skin cells attract clothes moths like nobody’s business. If a garment specifies a dry clean, then do that just before you store it away as moths don’t like dry cleaning fluid.
Fold items neatly to a uniform size, our handy folding pallet makes this easy, then place items in zip up storage bag. Our moth proof, breathable knitwear bags can store up to ten fine knits or two to three big knits, and our cashmere storage bags are made of 100% washable cotton and store two finer knits or one big chunky one.
To keep moths away, surround your clothes with our bespoke essential oil fragrances which smell divine but are hated by clothes moths. Our May Chang sachets last a full season and can be placed in the knitwear bags or opt for lining your drawers with our May Chang anti-moth drawer liners.
If you think you have clothes moths, make sure you vacuum and treat any storage area before you put clothes away. We have lots of products to monitor, repel, kill and confuse clothes moths. Our first port of call would be the Moth box, which uses the female clothes moth pheromone to attract and trap male clothes moths, allowing you to monitor numbers. If you have a serious problem, we highly recommend our Moth decoy which provides year round protection. For a detailed explanation on dealing with Clothes moth look no further than our expert advice on how to get rid of moths.