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How to Wash Cashmere Sweaters

There’s nothing like the feel of wearing a soft cashmere sweater. If not knowing how to properly launder your favorite one is stopping you from wearing it again, though, take heart: It’s not as hard as you might think, and yes, you can even do it at home.

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Of course, you might feel a little rebellious to take on cashmere laundering at home, especially when you have a “dry clean only” tag staring you down.

“With delicate materials like cashmere, closely following the care label is key to not only getting the garment clean but making sure it lasts as long as it should,” says Caroline Dutka, brand manager at CD One Price Cleaners. “Sometimes following the care label can be labor-intensive. That is why we do recommend dry cleaning for delicate garments.” 

Dutka explains that aside from the convenience, dry cleaners use gentle yet effective fabric stain releasers that aren’t available for home use.

However, if the thought of a dry cleaning bill is preventing you from wearing your favorite cashmere garments, you can certainly wash them at home. But it’s not as easy as tossing that sweater into the washing machine — and don’t even think about putting it anywhere near the dryer.

“Materials like cashmere can be unpredictable when washed outside of care label instructions,” says Dutka. “There could be shrinking, bleeding, warping, or other issues when using a washer and dryer, even on delicate cycles.”

If you shudder to think of experimenting on your beloved cashmere sweater, hand-washing is the way to go. Here, Dutka walks you through it:

How to hand wash a cashmere sweater

Another option for cleaning cashmere at home

If hand-washing seems too laborious of a task, there’s another option for cleaning cashmere at home: steaming.

“Steaming is also a gentle way to quickly freshen up your cashmere clothes without having to wash them,” says Frej Lewenhaupt, co-founder and CEO at Steamery. “The hot steam kills the bacteria, removes shallow dirt, and helps the sweater to regain its natural form. Finish off with a spritz of fabric spray, and your sweater will be fresh and ready to be used again.” 

An iron isn’t a good swap for a steamer, though, because it’s not as gentle, Lewenhaupt explains. “Steam can be used on most textiles including cashmere, and it will give your garments that ‘new’ appearance,” he says.

Don’t have a steamer? Lewenhaupt says that if you’ve worn your cashmere sweater a couple of times and just want to freshen it up, you can hang it outside overnight to banish any odors. 

If you’ve got a heavily stained cashmere sweater, Lewenhaupt says to take it to the dry cleaner; he agrees with Dutka that the stain removers there are more efficient. But for freshening up and ordinary laundering, you can maintain your cashmere garments easily on your own.

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