Wool and cashmere sweaters are key investment pieces in many a fall and winter wardrobe. Proper care can keep them looking like new and extend their wear for years to come. Here are a few quick tips from the experts at Best Cleaners to help you and your delicate knits live happily ever after.
To Dry or Wet Clean?
Since wool and cashmere are natural fibers, they can be dry cleaned or wet washed as long as a gentle cleaning solution and cold temperatures are used. Professional dry cleaning is always a good option if you don’t have the time to care for your sweaters at home, or you are concerned about set stains or a developing hole. Be sure to use an eco-friendly dry cleaner – abrasive solutions can give your sweaters a stiff, glazed feel and break down the their fibers. The GreenEarth cleaning method used by Best Cleaners is gentle enough to use on the finest wool and cashmere but strong enough to remove tough stains and ground-in dirt. The GreenEarth cleaning method is free of harsh chemicals, which means your sweaters stay soft, colors stay vibrant, and whites stay bright. Be sure to alert your cleaning professional to any stains, pulls, or holes that will require extra attention. The sooner a stain or small pull is tended to, the less likely it will cause permanent damage.
If you prefer to care for your sweaters at home, always use a mild detergent such as Woolite, baby shampoo or dish soap, and hand or machine wash in cold water. If washing by hand, turn the sweater inside out and let soak for a few minutes before rinsing thoroughly. To dry, gently fold up (never wring) to remove excess water and then lay flat on a towel or drying rack. You can also use your washing machine to clean cashmere and wool. Put the garment, turned inside out, in a laundry or mesh bag before placing in the machine, and select the gentle cycle on cold water. Remove from the wash and follow the same steps for air drying – never machine dry, which causes shrinkage and can deform the shape. If needed, iron out wrinkles using a cool temperature setting.
Avoid Friction and Hanging
Pills are normal for any natural fiber and are a sign of friction from wear, harsh cleaning solutions, rubbing, wringing, and coming in contact with other garments. To limit the amount of friction, clean wool and cashmere after two to three wears. Wearing a t-shirt or camisole under your sweater can prolong the time between washings. In between washings, brush in a downward motion to remove unwanted debris and remove any fabric pills with a cashmere comb or sweater stone. Never yank or pull up pills with your fingers – the delicate yarn can be permanently damaged. And never hang a knit sweater – the fibers may stretch and become misshapen. Instead fold and store on a shelf away from direct sunlight and humidity.
Moth Protection and Other Storage Musts
Cleaning your sweaters and then storing them properly, especially at the end of the season, is the most reliable line of attack against holes and wrinkles. When putting your knits away for the season, place in a breathable garment bag or storage box in a cool, dry area. To prevent wrinkles, you can wrap each sweater in acid-free tissue paper. It is critical that each sweater is cleaned before storing it for the off-season. Moths, carpet beetles, and silverfish are attracted to human scents, so you’ll want to get rid of any perfume or food odors prior to storage. As an added precaution, place some cedar wood moth repellents or a lavender sachet in the container. Also double check each sweater for holes at the end of the season. The best time for repair by a professional is before you store it away, not when you pull it out to wear several months later.