Cashmere is one of the finest and softest materials in the world. This excellent material is particularly appreciated for the exceptional comfort it provides. It is often found in winter accessories (scarves, hats, socks) and in sweaters.
Cashmere, however, is a more delicate material, as the fineness of the fiber makes it more susceptible to abrasion. This is why cashmere knits are often reinforced in the areas most sensitive to wear.
Although this information is generally well known, questions remain regarding the maintenance of cashmere. Many consider that cashmere, like other woolens, does not tolerate successive washings which impact its lifespan.
This article therefore aims to present good practices for caring for your cashmere socks or sweaters.
Does cashmere hold up to washing?
Contrary to popular belief that woolens should never be washed, cashmere is not afraid of washing itself.
On the other hand, repeated washing that is unsuitable for the material is much more damaging. It is therefore important to follow certain precautions when washing your cashmere clothes.
Generally, hot water combined with rough friction is the worst enemy of cashmere socks (the same goes for cashmere sweaters).
Improper washing that combines these elements frequently causes a phenomenon called “felting”.
How to explain felting?
Wool is made of fibers with "scales". In the normal state, the scales are an extension of the fiber.
Under the effect of humidity and heat, the scales open, and the fibers no longer slide between them. Friction then causes the fibers to become tangled instead of remaining combed.
The thread, whose fibers are tangled, is shortened and without elasticity. This is exactly the state of felted wool: shrunken and without any elasticity.
How to wash cashmere socks and sweaters?
For machine washing:
- The socks are washed "cold", that is to say using lukewarm or cold water, neither ice nor hot. On a washing machine, this setting corresponds to a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius.
- Washing programs for wool generally provide a spinning cycle of 400 revolutions per minute, which allows the knitwear to be "pressed" against the drum and limits the movement of the clothes. It is also possible not to spin.
- Use a detergent suitable for woolens, which does not contain additional softeners.
- Store your clothes in a wash net to compact them and give them extra protection against abrasion.
For hand washing:
- Use lukewarm or cold water, neither ice nor hot. The volume must be adapted depending on the container and the quantity of clothes to be washed.
- Immerse your cashmere clothes in water for a few minutes with very little detergent.
- Stir lightly without rubbing or twisting.
Which detergent for cashmere?
Choose a detergent suitable for wool. These special wool detergents are generally formulated without softener, and are ideal for gently washing cashmere. You can use a small quantity of detergent to wash your socks by diluting it in several liters of water, or in your machine.
As a substitute, you can also use a quality Marseille soap.
How to dry cashmere?
Drying cashmere is a less delicate step, but just as important. After immersing your clothes, they become loaded with water. It is essential at this stage not to try to wring them out or hang them up, otherwise there is a risk that the mesh will be deformed by the weight of the water and lose its flexibility.
There are two effective methods for gently drying your cashmere clothes:
- Lay your cashmere socks or sweater on a towel laid flat. The cotton will quickly absorb most of the water. You can apply a second towel on top to speed up this process. Finally, let it air dry. Avoid the sunlight.
- Place your cashmere clothes on a mesh drying rack. This type of drying rack is ideal for letting the water drain gradually.
Should you remove pilling from cashmere?
Pilling is a phenomenon that is observed on all pieces and clothing made from cashmere. With friction, certain fibers in your knitwear can come loose and clump together, ending up forming what is commonly called "pilling".
Contrary to what one might think, this phenomenon is not exclusive to poor quality cashmere clothing. It reduces over time, since the strongest fibers remain in place.
However, pilling has the disadvantage of being less aesthetic. To remove them, you can use a suitable tool, such as cashmere combs or pilling razors.
You can pass them without pressing along your sweater or cashmere socks to gently remove pilling.