How to care for cashmere

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Now that you've got that brand new cashmere, how do you care for it? Hand wash or dry clean? Hang or fold? Fashion expert Sharon Haver, founder and style director of FocusOnStyle.com, answers your questions and shows you how to care for your cashmere.

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  • Sharon Haver

    Sharon Haver Fashion Industry Expert Sharon Haver has been a fashion industry reporter, stylist, editor and columnist for nearly 20 years. She knows the business of being beautiful inside and out. more about this expert »

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How to care for cashmere How to wash cashmere
  • Hand washing is the best way to clean cashmere garments.
  • If you must use a machine, use the "gentle" cycle on a good machine, cold water and a delicate detergent -- or even a shampoo.
  • The very best way to care for cashmere is not to wash it at all! Unless your garment is really dirty or sweaty, try to avoid washing it as long as possible.
  • DON'T put cashmere into the dryer, except, perhaps for a minute or two to air fluff only. Let it dry naturally.
  • If you use a dry cleaner, avoid establishments that use cheap, harsh chemicals. Seek out a good French cleaner, and ask about their chemicals - the lighter and better grades protect your garments better.
  • If you hand wash, DON'T wring the water out of your garment. Instead, lay it on a towel and press out any excess water. Then, let it dry naturally. You can also drape it over a towel that is placed over a towel bar, but be sure to block it (wetting it and stretching it back to its original size and shape for drying) to avoid uneven hems, droops and other uneven drying. As it dries, inspect your garment occasionally to ensure that hems remain even.

How to remove fabric pills from cashmere garments

  • To remove fabric pills from cashmere, use a battery-operated sweater shaver specifically designed for this purpose.
  • Your cashmere will easily survive this treatment, and it is an easy and quick way to restore a fresh look to garments worn frequently.


How to store cashmere

  • To store your cashmere garments, place a sheet of tissue paper between the major folds, and store in a drawer. If you must store in a closet, use a padded hanger, and shuffle the items occasionally to avoid denting and creasing them.
  • There are more attractive options to preventing moths when storing cashmere than mothballs. Specifically, cedar. If you don't have a cedar closet, use cedar chips. Cedar and lavender sprays are available at any store that has a closet department. You can refresh cedar blocks by sanding them occasionally to bring out new aroma. Have cedar and lavender spray handy to refresh your closets on a monthly basis.
  • Remember that food crumbs, sweat and dirt are a virtual smorgasbord to moths, and they will feed incessantly on your garments if given the opportunity. Before storing cashmere garments make sure they are clean, especially if you are storing them at the end of the normal wearing season.
  • To store items long-term, make sure they are freshly cleaned, put tissue paper between major folds, and box and seal them. Using plastic storage bags works as long as the storage bags are large enough to accommodate the item without excessive folding or wrinkling.

 

Transcript

LISA: I'm Lisa Birnbach for howdini.com. How do you take care of that gorgeous new cashmere sweater you scored this season? Hand wash or dry clean? Hang or fold? Answers to these and other pressing questions from Sharon Haver, fashion reporter and founderoffocusonstyle.com.
Hi Sharon.

SHARON: Hi Lisa. How are you?

LISA: Fine thanks. What about cashmere, dry-clean or hand wash?

SHARON: Well, you can do both. Usually they recommend particularly on better cashmere that you can wash it. I personally believe that unless it's something that really, you got dirty or sweaty, the longer you can go without cleaning it, it seems to work better on cashmere. But what you can do is either hand wash it or on a very gentle cycle in a good washing machine that doesn't sort of beat it up, in cold water and a very delicate kind of laundry detergent and they even recommend a shampoo.

And then what I would do is I wouldn't necessarily put it in a dryer, maybe just a minute or two to air fluff a bit, but then I would lie it down on a towel and kind of just let it dry naturally that way or put a towel on your big towel bar and then hang it over that. But make sure you sort of block it so the ends don't ends don't drag or droop.

LISA: Well they talk about blocking, what does that mean?

SHARON: For me, blocking means, I hang it on a really thick towel over my shower. I always kind of put the ends facing me, so I can make sure gather and press so that it's flat so that you don't get an uneven hem at the end if it wasn't supposed to be there. And then I kind of come over everyone once and while and pat it down to get rid of any bumps or lumps and that's fine. Or you can take it to the cleaner, which is not necessarily the best thing to do if you're going to a cheap cleaner that uses a lot of chemicals.

LISA: Well some of them do say dry clean only.

SHARON: But I would always suggest taking it to a French cleaner that uses a better grade, lighter kind of chemical or if you can find a green cleaner.

LISA: What about storage?

SHARON: Cashmere is really sort of it's like a smorgasbord for moths. They love it.

LISA: This is what they like to eat?

SHARON: They love it. I've lost my huge cashmere collection because I didn't follow my own advice. But what you want to do at the end of every season is not put anything away dirty or worn. You want to make sure that there's no sweat on it, no food or dirt, no munchies for a moth to get in and have a heyday on. So always put it away cleaned and then you can fold it with putting a piece of tissue underneath it, just put it in a box nice and neat.

LISA: In a box?

SHARON: A box, is usually the best way of doing it and sealing it so whether it be a plastic box, a plastic garment bag like this one of those nylony canvas things, you want to put it in something where the moths can't wander in and start eating. So what I always use are cedar chips and you can get them at any closet department and with cedar they last a long time too and what you can do is take some sand paper and roughing it up a bit and then the smell will come out more so you refresh themselves.

And I really love even throughout the season I use these little sprays this one is cedar and lavender. I actually keep this in my closet and every once in awhile when I remember I give the closet a little spritz and it sort of keeps it at bay.

LISA: Now what about you bring home your grey cashmere sweater and it costs a lot and you really take good care of it and it pills anyway?

SHARON: The little sweater shavers that you can get, battery operated things that come with a little plastic sort of holder to keep the crumbs in it, the fuzz, and you just give it a quick shave.

LISA: You're cashmere sweater will survive a shaving?

SHARON: It will survive a shaving.

LISA: And what ultimately must you do, what is the Sharon Haver trick to keeping your cashmere long lasting.

SHARON: What I do for sweaters I wear quite frequently or that I remember that I own is that I hang them and I use a very nice padded hanger like this or I use the little fuzzy ones that clothing won't fall off and I wouldn't put something light and delicate like this but a sturdier one like you're wearing or one of these I would most definitely put on it.

LISA: And then as the season progresses and you see it does it look like it's getting a little bit dented? Kind of shuffle them around so it doesn't sit in the same spot all the time.

SHARON: Most people will tell you to fold them, but we don't have that many drawers.

LISA: Do you put cedar in the closet when you’re hanging them?

SHARON: I walk around and do a quick spritz of this every once in a while. I keep these in the boxes. I also have some of those big cedar boards. They are like two by fours and I have a few of them they are kind of buried in the back behind clothes. They give a little bit of cedar. But having a lot of different easy to access cedar things doesn't have that horrible odor of mothball when you walk in. And so far no moths in my life for the last five years. So it must be working.

LISA: That's protecting your investment. Thanks Sharon.

SHARON: Thank you.

LISA: For howdini.com, I'm Lisa Birnbach.


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