How to wash cashmere without damaging it

Pile of cashmere sweaters
Pile of cashmere sweaters (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you have favorite sweaters or scarves, you’ll need to know how to wash cashmere without damaging it. And as the months grow colder, learning how to maintain cashmere will make all the difference in keeping you warm and toasty. 

Pure cashmere is made from the undercoat of cashmere goats, which is more finer, lighter and softer than sheep’s wool. That’s why it’s important to know how to wash cashmere the right way to protect its natural fibers and preserve its softness. In addition, experts always recommend to give cashmere clothing a good clean before storing away in your closet after the cold season.

And while we may think dry cleaning is the best course of action, that would be wrong. The chemicals used in dry cleaning can actually strip the fibers of their natural oils — responsible for keeping them soft and supple in the first place.
Luckily, washing cashmere at home is not as complicated as you would think. Plus, it will take no time at all.  Just follow these simple steps on how to wash cashmere without damaging it, and make your garments last a lifetime. 

Are you washing your coats often enough? Find out how often you should wash your coat. Plus, here's how to store your winter wardrobe to keep it fresh.

How to wash cashmere by hand

Before you start washing cashmere items, always check the care label. Some may state 'dry clean only,' but experts always advise that hand-washing cashmere is the best course of action. If necessary, you can also place cashmere in the washing machine on a delicate cycle, as you will see in this guide. 

1. Fill a tub with cold water 

Soapy water

Soapy water (Image credit: Shutterstock)

First, fill a sink, tub, or basin with cold water before adding a tablespoon of a specific cashmere or wool detergent. If you don’t have any at hand, a mild baby shampoo is gentle enough to use. Avoid using any other detergents that contain harsh chemicals, as they will destroy the natural fibers. 

2. Soak your cashmere garment 

Handwashing cashmere in soapy water

Handwashing cashmere in soapy water (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Next, soak the cashmere item completely in the water, and gently swish the garment around for about 30 seconds. Gently rub the water into the fabric, focusing on areas such as around the neck and armpit areas. You can spot-treat any stains with a dab of wool detergent, and gently blot away with a soft cloth. Then, let the cashmere item soak for 30 minutes before draining out the water. 

3. Rinse cashmere garment and air dry 

Handwashing clothes in basin

Handwashing clothes in basin (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Once you’ve poured the water out, refill the basin or tub with cool water to rinse the item. Repeat this until the cashmere has no traces of soap on the fabric, before draining out the dirty water. Never wring out the item; just press out the water with your hands before laying your cashmere flat on a dry towel to dry. You can even fold the towel over it to help absorb the excess water, and help it to dry quicker. 

TIP: Only wash one or two items at a time, and ensure they are similar colors and size.  

How to wash cashmere in the washing machine

1. Place inside a mesh bag  

Mesh laundry bag

Mesh laundry bag (Image credit: Shutterstock)

For best results, place your sweater inside a mesh laundry washing bag like these Plusmart Mesh Laundry Bags with Drawstring ($12, Amazon). These will protect cashmere from getting snagged by the other clothes in the washing machine, and help keep their shape. 

2. Wash on delicate cycle  

Changing cycle setting

Changing cycle setting (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Select the delicate cycle on the machine and make sure the water temperature is cold and the spin is low. A delicate wash cycle is the washing machine equivalent to handwashing. These settings use cold water with low agitation or slow spin and is the shortest and most gentle cleaning cycle. At the end of the cycle, quickly remove the cashmere item to reduce creasing, before laying flat on a dry towel to dry as normal.  

TIP: Never put cashmere clothing in the dryer. The high temperatures will damage the natural fibers, and ruin the shape. What’s more, you wouldn’t want your favorite sweater to shrink to the size of a toddler! 

How to store cashmere clothing 

Cashmere care label

Cashmere care label (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Before storage, make sure your cashmere clothing is completely dry before putting away. Ideally, cashmere should be stored inside out, in a dust free and well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight. To protect your clothes from moths or other pests, store in airtight, zippered garment bags such as these Clear Garment Bags for Hanging Clothes ($17, Amazon), or in plastic storage containers.  

How often should I wash cashmere? 

Generally, it’s not necessary to wash your wool and cashmere sweaters after every use. Depending on how often you wear it, experts recommend washing cashmere garments once or twice a season to protect the fabric yarns from damage.   

If you want to upgrade your laundry game, check out the best washing machines, and what to look for when buying  a washing machine

Also, here are the 10 things you never knew you could wash in a washing machine. But if in doubt , find out if ‘hand-wash only’ clothes can go in the washing machine. For more laundry tips, check out how to wash bras without breaking them and how to make white sheets brighter in 3 simple ways.  

Next: I just fixed a hole in my favorite sweater with this magic powder.

Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!