Ignore the ‘Dry Clean Only Tag’, avoid chemicals, soften your sweaters and save money.
Nothing feels better than a soft cashmere sweater on a cold winter day or a cool summer night – but this luxurious knit feels fragile. My chic aunt moved from San Francisco to wine country. Her sweaters smelled of smoke from the recent fires, and the dry cleaner is a long way from their vineyard. She is practical so she tried washing a sweater on the gentle, cold cycle of her washing machine. It was a huge success. Her sweaters are softer and fresher than before. They did not shrink, stretch or pill. Here is how to live in cashmere (and wool) without the hassle, expense and chemicals of dry cleaning.
- Remove stains.
Stain removing instructions from the TheLaundress.com:
Apply the Stain Solution directly to the stained area(s).
Work the stain: Work the solution into the fabric with your finger or the stain brush – gently. Rinse in cold water in a tub or sink.
Reapply or repeat as needed: If the stain is not completely gone, repeat this process until satisfied.
Soak up to 30 minutes: Soak the item in a basin filled with cool water.
Remove odor: Get rid of stubborn smells by adding ¼ cup of Scented Vinegar to the basin.
Note: Apply stain remover and gently massage it. Don’t scrub or twist. Cashmere fibers are fragile when they are wet.
The Laundress Stain Solution is color-safe and effective even on old stains. It works on tannins like red wine and coffee. It removes protein stains like breast milk and even grease and oil.
The Laundress Stain Solution, Unscented, 16 ounces
2. Turn the sweater inside out so if any pills form, they are on the inside.
3. Put each sweater into a mesh bag to prevent snagging.
This set of six Mesh Micro Net Laundry Wash Bags are reusable. Plastic zippers do not rust and the zipper tabs prevent rough spots to catch on sweaters. (2 Extra Large, 2 Large, 2 Medium) $9.99.
4. Machine wash with mild detergent or high quality shampoo. Use the delicate cycle. Cold water only. Spin should be on low. Dry your sweater as soon as the cycle is complete.
The Laundress Wool and Cashmere Shampoo preserves natural lanolin oils, keeping yarns soft. It says that it is ideal for items labeled “dry clean,” wool, cashmere, merino, mohair, blends, and more. It is designed for the care of wool and cashmere, the Cedar scent is a modern take on the traditional woody scent combining sandalwood, orange, and rose with a base of cedar. We love cedar’s natural moth-repelling properties! The Laundress Wool & Cashmere Shampoo, Cedar, 16 fl. oz. – 32 loads. $18.99.
5. Dry your sweater
Fibers in the sweater are at their weakest when they are wet. Shape the wet sweater into a ball. Gently push water out after the rinse, but never wring the sweater.
Lay out a clean, fluffy white towel. Place your sweater flat on the towel. Smooth out wrinkles and block the hem and cuffs. Roll up the towel into one long tube. Gently press down on the entire length of the towel. Unroll the towel. Place the sweater on a mesh sweater drying rack overnight or until it is dry.
Since this cashmere washing process takes a little time and effort, here are some tips for sprucing up your cashmere between washings.
Brush off lint.
Pick up a wrinkle? An iron is too hot for cashmere. Use a steamer – it fluffs up the fibers.
See our earlier article on fabric shavers to rid fabrics of pills.
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