With the leaves turning and Starbucks PSL cups hogging all the space in public trash cans, this can only mean one thing: Cashmere sweater weather. In order to survive this season, however, you're going to have to know how to wash a cashmere sweater without ruining the most expensive item in your closet. Because that would be a tragedy.
No matter how that cashmere sweater ended up in your closet — be it you saved up enough money or your great aunt gifted it to you (guilty) — it's a sign you have made it in this world. Don't ruin it. Could you imagine if J.Lo ruined any of her cashmere turtleneck sweaters? She wouldn't be the Jenny from the Block we know and love.
According to Slate, cashmere is wool from the undercoats of goats bred to produce it, and it typically takes more than two goats to make a single sweater. The scarcity of the fibers is the reason for the expensive price tag. If we want our cashmere sweaters to last us all fall and winter, we have to take proper care of them. These tips from GQ Magazine, Martha Stewart Living and Real Simple Magazine should help you learn how to wash a cashmere sweater without totally ruining it.
Tip 1: Do Not Dry Clean
Surprised? Anytime I don't know how to properly wash something, I check my bank account and send it right off to the local dry cleaners. According to GQ, however, dry cleaners employ harsh chemicals, which are not good for the fibers. While it will get your sweater clean, and maybe even get that dreadful sriracha stain out, it will wear down your sweater over time.
Tip 2: Hand Wash
Show of hands: Who has decided against buying a shirt because directions stated it was only hand washable? Me, certainly. Yes, hand washing can feel tedious, but to ensure your precious sweater will last at least as you as long as you had to save for it, hand washing is the safest route. And scrub gently, even on the stain. If applicable, Martha Stewart Living suggests buttoning the sweater before washing to help your cardigans keep their shape.
Tip 3: Use Lukewarm Water
Very specifically, Real Simple Magazine states 85 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature. And if you care about that cashmere sweater as much as you should, I'd pull out the meat thermometer to be sure it is 85 degrees Fahrenheit on the dot. GQ says this is so the detergent can bubble, but not burn your hands off in the process.
Tip 4: Choose Your Detergent Carefully
This may mean you buy a specific brand of detergent just for your cashmere sweater, but in the name of proper expensive clothing care, it is worth it. Martha Stewart Living suggests using only a few drops of mild detergent, or mixing dishwashing detergent with 3/4 cup of white vinegar to get out the smell of body odor. Real Simple Magazine stated the more alkaline a detergent is, the harsher it is on the sweater.
GQ recommends filling the "little cup thing" on fabric detergents 1/4 inch, just enough to wash one garment.
Tip 5: Separate Colors
Just like washing clothes with a machine, you must separate the light and dark colors when it comes to hand washing clothes, especially cashmere. Real Simple says to start with the light item, so loose dark fibers are not washed onto the light clothes. And the longer you soak the colors, the more likely they are to bleed.
Tip 6: Twirl For At Least Five Minutes
Rather than rubbing or stretching the fabric to get out dirt, twirl the cashmere sweater in the water so it's not rubbing against itself, which Real Simple states can cause pilling. The article also states it takes at least five minutes for dirt to come off when hand washing.
Tip 7: Rinse
Keeping the sweater in the sink, Stewart, GQ and Real Simple agree to drain all the water and refill with cool water until all the suds are gone. As the water is running, however, Martha Stewart Living warns not to run the sweater directly under the faucet as the pressure can stretch the cashmere. And no one wants that.
Tip 8: Ball, Don't Ring
Instead of ringing the shirt out, which will stretch and distort the sweater, all three publications state to ball it up in itself and to press down on it slightly to release some water.
Tip 9: Use A White Towel
Place your cashmere sweater on a white towel and smooth out all wrinkles, starting at the top of the sweater. GQ Magazine suggests even rolling the cashmere sweater up in the white towel to help it dry. White is key here, so there's no chance of color transfer.
Tip 10: Skip The Hangers With You Dry
While Martha Stewart Living, GQ, and Real Simple don't agree on how to to completely dry the shirt, they do agree that wire hangers are a no-no. Real Simple suggests hanging it over a drying rack rather than tossing it in a dryer, which I tend to agree with.