Washing cashmere can be a very daunting task.... Beautifully soft and delicate, it feels amazing against the skin and keeps us snug and warm throughout the winter months.
Great quality cashmere can be quite an investment - it’s very delicate and expensive, which makes pulling a shrunken, mis-shaped jumper out of the washing machine a very annoying feeling!
However, it needn’t be and BLANC is here to help with ensuring that this doesn’t happen to you again - read on to find out about how one of our favourite winter fabrics is made and tips on how to best care for it.
How Cashmere is Made
Cashmere is a natural animal-based fibre, made from the soft undercoat of cashmere goats. This luxury fibre mainly comes from the Kashmir goat, but some samples can come from other types of goats too. These goats live in very cold, harsh climates and each year from March to May, they grow a double fleece to protect them from the brutal elements: the ‘undercoat’ and the ‘guard’ coat.
The undercoat hair is incredibly soft with the outer layer being coarse and thick. The two hairs are separated from one another in a process called ‘de-haring’, so that the fine undercoat can be dyed and woven into a yarn to be dyed and used in fabric.
The labour-intensive process and the scarcity of the raw material (each goat can only produce a certain amount of under down per year, generally 4-6 ounces) explain the relatively low production rate of cashmere as well as its hefty price tag.
Cashmere and the Environment
Cashmere farming, in essence, shouldn’t be harmful to either the environment or the goats. However, the over production of cashmere can result in farmers and local communities not being paid a fair wage for production. Goats are also paying the price of cheap cashmere production: the over harvesting of fur means goats can be left with minimal hair to keep them warm in the tough temperatures.
When purchasing cashmere, we recommend looking at the brand’s practices first and investing in well-made cashmere that will last a long time. Our partners Arch4 create beautiful, sustainable cashmere and aim to prove that it is possible to create luxurious products without causing unnecessary harm to the planet..
Their cashmere is harvested from Capra Hircus goats - this specific breed of goat produces the highest quality cashmere in the world. Responsibly sourced from traceable goatherds, they can identify the cashmere back to each individual herd. The dying process of the garments is certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard and the water required in the manufacturing processes is cleaned through a recycling process to ensure no damage is incurred to the wildlife environment in Mongolia. Find out more and discover their ethical collections at arch4.co.uk.
You can also take a look at our recent blog post about Greenwashing, and how to avoid it for key things to look out for when buying a product, to ensure you’re making the best purchasing decision.
How to Wash Cashmere
Most people opt for professional cleaning for their cashmere items, but with a little bit of extra care, you can also wash it at home. Because cashmere is a very soft and delicate fabric, it is generally advisable to opt for hand washing. If you need to pretreat a stain, the BLANC stain bar is perfect: simply dampen the bar and the fabric and gently treat the stain directly.
To hand wash your cashmere items, mix cool to lukewarm water (never hot) together with some gentle detergent and submerge the garment, remembering to gently agitate. Then press the water out of the item, and make sure not to wring or twist your garment.
How to Dry Cashmere
Cashmere can take up to several days to dry, especially thicker knits and outerwear such as jumpers and coats. It’s important to avoid hanging cashmere items as this can unfortunately deteriorate them and make them lose their original shape. In order for the garment to dry properly and maintain its original shape and size, it’s best to lay the garment on a towel, on a flat surface and reshape whilst damp.
Remember to avoid using any form of heat: when drying, try to keep your garment away from any heat sources like radiators and never use the tumble dryer for cashmere pieces.
How to Store Cashmere
Hanging up your best cashmere sweater might be tempting, but it’s best to avoid this where possible. Hanging this specific fabric will cause shoulder dimples and distort the item due to gravity pulling down on the garment. Instead, fold your item and place away in a drawer or on a shelf.
How to Protect Cashmere from Moths
Moths are naturally attracted to the proteins in wool and cashmere fibres, which makes cashmere garments very appealing for the moths to nibble holes in.
To keep them away, wash all your clothes, to get rid of any eggs the moths have laid, and use sachets of dried herbs, such as dried rosemary, thyme, cloves and lavender. The cedar moth repellent cubes are great moth repellents too - not to mention they’re eco-friendly, smell lovely and you can keep them forever! All they need is a couple of drops of cedar wood oil to refresh them.
If you’re still struggling with clothes moths, take a read of our blog article about how to get rid of moths.
How to stop pilling
Cashmere pilling is entirely normal and unfortunately, unavoidable. Pilling happens when the fibres break down due to friction - these loose fibres then form little bobbles on your garment. The easiest way to keep these bobbles at bay is with a cashmere comb or brush. You simply take the brush and just gently brush these off your garment - just try to avoid tugging too much!