Cashmere is (and will always be) a wardrobe staple for its long-lasting strength and cozy, luxurious hand-feel. As Hubert Givenchy stated, All a woman needs to be chic is a raincoat, two suits, a pair of trousers and a cashmere sweater. Couldn't agree more - well maybe not on the suit - but the rest of it, yes sir.
We have always been a little intimidated with labels that indicated 'hand-wash' only, and especially 'dry-clean only'. Who has time to hand-wash in the 21st century? What good is a washing machine if I can't use it? If I dry-clean this sweater every time it needs a clean, it will make it the most expensive item in my wardrobe over time. No thank you.
Contrary to popular belief, dry-cleaning is not the best way to clean cashmere, hand-washing is. You may not want to hear that due to the aforementioned reasons so we're here to offer a middle-of-the-road solution. One that doesn't cost much and takes a lot less time than hand-washing.
The eco factor
On a scale of eco-friendly to not, hand-washing is definitely the best option as it requires the least amount of energy because you don't use any hot water, any electricity for your washer, nor do you EVER put cashmere in the tumble dryer. Never not ever. Lest you want some shriveled up ball of cat-fur-like thing instead of a luxurious Public Habit cashmere sweater, that's build to last.
Did you know that clothing's greatest environmental impact happens during the care cycle? It's sometimes hard to imagine, but care—washing, drying, ironing and dry cleaning—uses more energy and toxins than raising fiber, spinning, dyeing, manufacturing or transportation. It's estimated that 80% of carbon emissions tied to a garment's environmental impact are produced during the ‘in-use’ stage of its life-cycle.
One of the simplest ways to minimize the impact of care is to machine wash clothes in cold water, using non-petroleum, eco-friendly soaps. Instead of sending sweaters to the dry cleaner, wash them by using the instructions below.
Step 1: prep for washing
- Using a laundry bag like this or like this, place your dirty cashmere sweater(s) into the bag. The bag will protect the sweater(s) in the washing machine.
- Separate lights and darks as you would with any wash. Don't wash your red sweaters with your white unless you're looking for a bubblegum wardrobe.
Step 2: Start a cold, gentle wash cycle
- Place the sweater bag with your cashmere sweater(s) into the washing machine, ideally without anything else in the drum.
- Choose a gentle, low-alkaline detergent. (The more alkaline a detergent is, the harsher it is on clothes). Baby shampoo is a good choice.
- Start a low, gentle cycle using cold water only. 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.
Step 3: Lay Flat to Dry
- Remove your cashmere from the washer and the washer bag and lay the garment flat on a clean white towel for lights, dark towel for darks.
- Do not wring out cashmere - it can be harsher on the fabric than running it in a hot water cycle.
- Smooth out any wrinkles in the sweater. Laying the sweater flat allows it to re-created its natural shape.
Step 4: sushi Roll the Towel and Garment Together
- 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 or lay flat on a fresh, clean and dry towel.
Final tip: Think twice before washing your clothes. “Washing garments too often can actually cause damage to the fibres and hence decrease the lifespan,” explains Chris Morton, head seamstress at Clothes Doctor.
Stay tuned for our upcoming Public Knowledge post on how to maintain and care for your cashmere for years to come.
As always, if you have questions or think we missed something, please comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.