This is how to ensure your cashmere lasts a lifetime, according to the experts

Written by Naomi May

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It’s the softest, snuggest and most sumptuous knit of all, but caring for cashmere isn’t always as clear as it should be, so consider this your bumper guide to extending the lifespan of yours. 

There’s no shortage of nifty knits that are bodies are merely trembling at the prospect of being able to wear during the winter months.

From colourblock knits (hello, big and bold brights) to those of the artisanal, homespun variety, there’s a swaddlicious something or other for everybody in the knit-sphere.

But none come more supreme as cashmere, which is arguably the softest and most sumptuous of them all. Crafted from the downy undercoat of cashmere goats, the fabric has long been a go-to in the world of knits, but that doesn’t mean prolonging its shelf life is a small feat. 

For cashmere is a fabric that’s prone to pilling and catnip for peckish moths, which are attracted to the moisture in the fabric. Help is at hand though, dear cashmere converts, in the form of this bumper guide to caring for cashmere along with a buffet of product recommendations, which should help you along in your journey.

What is the best way to wash cashmere?

“As a general rule of thumb, hand washing is always the safest and gentlest option. Choose a specialist detergent suitable for wool and dissolve completely in cold water,” says Sally Hughes, founder of Kair. “Never twist or wring fabrics, as this can damage the fibres and alter the shape of the garment – just gently rock and squeeze until the water runs clear. If you are using a washing machine, use a specialist wool detergent and choose a short cycle, a cool wash (20-30C) with a slow 400rpm spin, and make sure you use a mesh laundry bag.” 

How often does cashmere need washing?

“To really extend the lifespan of your cashmere, don’t wash it after every wash – it can last comfortably for 7-10 wears,” Hughes states. “Consider spot cleaning or freshening with a laundry spray to keep you going in between washes, and try to only wash fully when it really needs it.” 

  • Kair wool, silk and delicates wash

    Kair wool, silk and delicates wash

    Formulated with a buffet of plant-based ingredients, Kair’s specially-designed delicates wash is perfect for cleaning cashmere without damaging it.

    Shop Kair wool, silk and delicates wash, £18

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What is the best way to dry cashmere?

To dry cashmere, turn your piece “inside out and lay flat on a clean towel, before easing back into its natural shape,” Hughes advises. While it may be tempting to throw it onto the radiator or into a tumble dryer, these direct heat sources can actually damage and shrink the fibres of your cashmere, so prioritise allowing it to dry naturally where possible.

“Once your cashmere is dry, you can steam lightly with a cool iron or release wrinkles with a laundry spray,” Hughes adds. 

  • The Lab Co. signature fabric mist

    The Lab Co. signature fabric mist

    With a refreshing fusion of non-toxic eucalyptus, orange rind and wild lavender, this vegan laundry mist promises to freshen laundry in between washes.

    Shop The Lab Co. signature fabric mist at Liberty London, £9

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What is the best way to store cashmere? 

“Be careful when storing your cashmere – try to avoid hanging it so it doesn’t get misshapen and instead, fold your pieces in a dresser or on a shelf. If you are storing for longer periods of time, keep your piece in an airtight container with cedarwood chips to prevent mustiness and ward off moths,” Hughes says. 

  • The Cashmere Centre aromatic cedar hangers

    The Cashmere Centre aromatic cedar hangers

    Simply bury these cedar chips in among your cashmere and moths will be instantly repelled from trying to nibble holes in your knits.

    Shop The Cashmere Centre aromatic cedar hangers, £3.95

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How do you remove pills from cashmere?

No matter how expensive your cashmere piece may be, it will inevitably form pills, which are bobbles on the surface of the fabric that are made when some of the finer fabrics become loose and tangle together.

“It’s a natural consequence of wear, not a sign of quality,” Hughes explains. “Simply remove them by hand or by using a cashmere comb, making sure to lay your knit flat and taut as you work through the fibres.” 

  • Clothes Doctor cashmere comb

    Clothes Doctor cashmere comb

    The perfect addition to your nifty knitwear care arsenal, this comb is perfect for combing out pills seamlessly and simply. 

    Shop Clothes Doctor cashmere comb, £14

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Lead image: courtesy of Reformation.

Images: courtesy of brands.

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