How To Wash & Care For Cashmere (And Our Favorite Cashmere Brands)

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I’m a cashmere kind of girl. And while I realize how pretentious that comment sounds….I’m a cashmere kind of girl precisely because cashmere is one of the least pretentious fabrics out there. It’s warm, it drapes well (like, always), and it’s durable. I literally wear my cashmere sweaters on a daily basis in the winter. I pick my kids up from school in cashmere, I cook in it, I’ve done art projects in it, I ski in it, I start workouts in it, and I sometimes sleep in my cashmere sweaters on really cold nights. Oh, and I still dress cashmere sweaters up — mini skirts, ball skirts, etc., I can’t think of anything that is more versatile than a good cashmere sweater. So. The two reader questions we get the most often (at least in the winter) are:

  1. Who makes the best cashmere sweaters?
  2. How do we properly care for cashmere?

Let me address the care of cashmere first, then I’ll put our favorite brands at the end of this post.

Eight Tips To Keep Your Cashmere Sweaters Looking Like New

1. STOP DRY-CLEANING

I know most cashmere sweater labels state, “Dry Clean Only” but they’re wrong. Dry-cleaning uses harsh chemicals that can actually break down the cashmere fibers over time, and ultimately results in a less soft, thinner sweater.

Nothing can make soft cashmere turn scratchy like a dry cleaner.

2. HAND WASH, OR…..

You can hand-wash your cashmere sweater (fill up sink, add gentle detergent, let cashmere soak for 30 min)….but I find it annoying, and machine washing works just as well. So….

3. GET A FINE MESH LAUNDRY BAG (LARGE SIZE)

These fine mesh laundry bags can be picked up on Amazon, but get one big enough to fit your cashmere sweater (or sweaters). They’ll prevent your cashmere from snagging or pulling while in the washing machine (this is especially important for top-loading machines).

Cashmere is just as cozy casual as it is dressed up. And how to care for cashmere is more challenging than styling it. Save your sweaters with our 8 tips.

If you are *really* concerned about pilling, use one bag per sweater.

Cashmere is just as cozy casual as it is dressed up. And how to care for cashmere is more challenging than styling it. Save your sweaters with our 8 tips.

4. MACHINE WASH ON COLD (AND MAYBE USE THE DELICATE CYCLE)

Cashmere is just as cozy casual as it is dressed up. And how to care for cashmere is more challenging than styling it. Save your sweaters with our 8 tips.

The most important part of machine washing cashmere is the temperature of the water: cold. And if you have a top-loading machine, I’d also choose the delicate cycle. Front loading machines? Well…the delicate cycle *might* still be the best choice, but I’ve been washing my cashmere for years on the regular cycle. And as long as it’s being washed in cold water — for both wash and rinse — it comes out beautifully.

The biggest perk to machine washing cashmere (rather than dry-cleaning)?? The cashmere comes out baby soft. Like clouds, cotton candy, and happiness soft.

5. USE A GENTLE DETERGENT

Once again, there’s probably a difference between The Best Option…and the one I end up using. The best option? The Laundress’ Wool and Cashmere Shampoo. The scent helps repel moths, too. However….I personally found the scent too strong. The Laundress’ Delicate Wash is the one I sometimes use. However, in recent years…I’ve found that as long as I’m using a natural-ish laundry detergent that isn’t filled with harsh chemicals (say no to Tide)….my cashmere sweaters come out just fine.

Cashmere is just as cozy casual as it is dressed up. And how to care for cashmere is more challenging than styling it. Save your sweaters with our 8 tips.

6. LAY FLAT TO DRY

This is a big one.  Never hang wet cashmere (unless you are trying to repair a sweater that shrunk previously). Hanging will elongate the sweater, and you’ll have hanger marks from where it was hung. Instead, lay it flat to dry, and, if necessary, reshape the sweater a few times as it dries. If you washed on cold, the sweater really shouldn’t shrink, but a few times I’ve noticed that my cheaper cashmere sweaters do shrink up in the arms sometimes. Gently pulling them back into shape as they dry totally works. You can always roll them up in a towel to squeeze the excess water out, but I’ve found that cashmere tends to come out of the spin cycle damp, rather than sopping wet.

7.  BE REALISTIC ABOUT PILLING

Each year I get a ton of questions from readers about Which Cashmere Doesn’t Pill?? It’s an easy answer:  none of them. There is not a cashmere sweater alive that doesn’t pill eventually. Pilling isn’t necessarily a sign of cheap cashmere, it’s a sign of use. That said, thicker cashmere — the really good kind with a tighter weave — takes longer to pill. But it’s also around $400-$500 per sweater. And if you wear your cashmere (either the $100 everyday cashmere or the super-fancy $500 cashmere) like I do — and you SHOULD, durability is a major selling point of the stuff — both will eventually pill.

So instead of stressing about pilling, just….

8. FIX PILLING WITH A SWEATER SHAVER

First of all, I’ve had zero luck with sweater stones. I can’t even begin to understand all of the good reviews.

I used an old (now discontinued) sweater shaver from Brookstone for years. But there’s nothing particularly special about the one I have — there are a ton of identical shavers on the market. This one in particular has 34K+ almost 5-star reviews and will be my next purchase when mine finally burns out.

Here’s a before pic…

Cashmere is just as cozy casual as it is dressed up. And how to care for cashmere is more challenging than styling it. Save your sweaters with our 8 tips.

And after….

Cashmere is just as cozy casual as it is dressed up. And how to care for cashmere is more challenging than styling it. Save your sweaters with our 8 tips.

I mean seriously.  Enough said.

Be sure to clean out the sweater shaver “basket” after each use — cashmere tends to fill it rather quickly (and mine won’t run if the basket is full). Also, I like de-pilling cashmere on something with a little give, like an ironing board (or my bed). Just go slow and press evenly, with a slightly firm pressure. (But these sweater shavers are pretty foolproof, so don’t stress).

My Favorite Cashmere Sweaters

The brands below are ones that I’ve personally tried and loved. I tend to look for cashmere that has enough length in the arms, since that’s the one area that can sometimes shrink when washed (also I have pretty long arms, haha.)



What are your favorite cashmere sweaters? Did I miss any good brands?

xo,
S

For Pinterest (if you care about that sort of thing)….

Cashmere is just as cozy casual as it is dressed up. And how to care for cashmere is more challenging than styling it. Save your sweaters with our 8 tips.
Cashmere is just as cozy casual as it is dressed up. And how to care for cashmere is more challenging than styling it. Save your sweaters with our 8 tips.