Washing cashmere is quite simple, all you need is a roomy bucket/basin, a suitable soap, a large towel and a flat drying rack.
First, fill the bucket with lukewarm water (never use hot water). Add a suitable soap. What you need to know is that cashmere is a protein fibre, in other words it’s a type of hair and therefore you need to use a special soap for wool, silk and cashmere. It’s easy to buy these, however, if you don’t have the right wool soap an alternative is baby shampoo (it’s hair, remember). Baby shampoos are good because they are free of perfumes, conditioners and a whole host of other ingredients that sometimes are added to shampoos for adults.
Immerse the cashmere item in the soapy water. If it’s a jumper, turn it inside out first. Soak the cashmere item well and slush it a bit around. It’s very important never to rub cashmere when you wash it, however, if you feel that you have bit of sweat and deodorant residue at the armpits, gently massage it between your thumb and your four fingers. If it is a single coloured jumper, leave it to soak for about 15- 20 minutes.
Cashmere has a little crimp that holds air pockets. When cashmere is coloured, these crimps can sometimes also hold a bit of colouring, therefore don’t be alarmed if the soap water seems to take a lot of colour from your cashmere, it’s just the excess colouring. Your item will not fade from washing.
Once your cashmere is clean, you need to rinse it well in lukewarm water. Make sure the soap is completely rinsed out. Squeeze the cashmere gently to get the excess water out. It’s very important never to wring your cashmere as this will pull the fibres out of shape, and once that has happened the proper shape can never be restored again.
Lay the clean cashmere flat on a large clean towel for drying. If your cashmere doesn’t have any embellishments or buttons, roll the towel and gently press down on it to get rid of more water. Lay the towel and cashmere flat on a drying rack away from direct sun and heat, and leave to dry. After a while, take the towel away so it doesn’t keep the cashmere damp for longer than necessary. Once the cashmere is dry, gently steam it for getting rid of wrinkles. If you don’t have a suitable steamer, you can use the steam on your iron – you may have to put a thin piece of cotton cloth in between for protecting your cashmere. Don’t feel tempted to give it a good hard ironing, because although at first it may seem like it makes your cashmere lovely smooth, it does actually damage the fine fuzz that is part of what makes cashmere so special.
Make sure your cashmere is absolutely bone dry before you put it away. Let it dry flat after steaming. Final step: fold your cashmere nicely, and put it away for storage or wear.