Dry cleaning isn’t the most effective way to care for your cashmere―it’s just the most expensive way. Here’s how to keep your cashmere looking like new for years to come, for just a few cents a pop.
What You Need
- Cashmere garments
- two or three shallow plastic or enamel washbasins or a sink
- gentle laundry soap
- clean white towel
- mesh drying rack
Follow These Steps
Prepare your washbasin
Fill a basin with slightly warm water—85 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal—and then add a small amount of gentle fine-washables detergent. (Some experts recommend as little as one teaspoon per gallon.) Swirl your hand in the water for a few seconds to disperse the soap evenly.
Tip: Choose a gentle, low-alkaline detergent. (The more alkaline a detergent is, the harsher it is on clothes.) Baby shampoo is a good choice.
Aha! Hot—or even warm—water can make dyes bleed. Cold water doesn't remove stains as effectively, but is better for garments that can shrink or aren’t colorfast. To test whether a garment is colorfast, dab the corner of a damp white cloth on an inconspicuous area. If it comes away with any dye on it, it’s not.
Wash garments, starting with light colors
If you’re washing more than one item, separate garments into two piles, one light; one dark, and start with the lightest-color garments. Add one item to the washbasin and use a hand to swirl it around in the water in a circular motion. To avoid altering the garment’s shape, don’t pull or stretch the fabric or rub it against itself, which can cause pilling. Twirl for two to five minutes. (It takes about five minutes for 98 percent of dirt to come out when hand washing. To freshen slightly soiled delicates, two to three minutes is all you need.)
Aha! The longer you soak fabric, the greater the chance that it will bleed and fade.
Rinse to remove soap
Drain the water out of the sink and refill with clean water, keeping the garment in the sink, or, if using two washbasins instead of the sink, transfer the garment to the second basin filled with clean water. Refill this basin and repeat as many times as is necessary to remove the soapsuds. When no suds remain, drain water from sink or basin.
Tip: Avoid rinsing under running water, which can stretch delicate fabrics.
Remove excess water
Create a loose ball with the wet fabric and gently press it against the side of the basin to release as much water as possible.
Aha! Wringing out a wet garment can be harsher on fabric than running it through the delicate cycle of a washing machine.
Blot with a towel
Place a clean white (or light-colored) towel that’s large enough to accommodate the whole garment on a flat surface. Lay the garment on top of the towel, gently smoothing out all the wrinkles. Starting at the top of the garment, roll the towel and the garment together, pressing down on the roll to help the towel absorb the water in the garment. Unroll. If the item is still very wet, repeat this step with a dry towel.
Place garment on a mesh drying rack until it’s completely dry. Repeat steps 1-5 with other cashmere garments.
Tip: If a sweater has long sleeves, arrange them on the towel so there’s space between the sleeves and the body.