Today I’m going to teach you how to clean, dry, maintain and store your fine woolen clothing and home accessories. And when I’m finished, you can print the WOOL AND CASHMERE LAUNDRY CARE GUIDE PDF to keep in your laundry room, just like I do. (I laminated mine!)
SO, LET’S GET WOOLEY, SHALL WE?
I’m an addict. Of wool that is, especially cashmere. There I said it. It’s out there in the forever space that is the world-wide-web. Whew, I feel a little better admitting my problem, now maybe I can seek some help.
Just kidding, no way am I giving up my love of all things wool. I don’t necessarily play favorites either. To say my addiction extends to sheep, alpaca, lamb, camel, mohair and merino would be a truism. As my Fall/Winter closet can attest, it does have quite an impressive collection of the stuff amassed over time.
It’s taken years of careful curating to achieve my present collection, as I try to always take the quality, style, color, price and “love-factor” of each new piece into consideration. The “love-factor” is the personal scale I use to quantify how often I would actually wear the piece in question. Do you gals have a “love-factor” kind of thing too? Please let me know if I’m a little nutsy or not, okay?
Each September I have an afternoon session I call “Wooley Wonderland”! I gather all my wool pieces and go through them one by one to check:
Once I’ve gone through each piece and put them in the appropriate pile, I’ll hang up the remainder. Then I transition my closet from summer to fall/winter.
The added benefit to this process gives me a jump start on exchanging my closet contents to my warmer wardrobe color capsules. (I’ll be teaching you all about building your own “clothing color capsule” wardrobe in future posts.)
Much to my chagrin, downsizing to our current mountaintop home has relegated me to storing my off-season clothes in the garage. Now, twice a year I have to shlep up and down the steps a million times to accomplish the transfer. Yuck!
Amidst one such tedious afternoon, I actually started thinking of having one of those “stairway chairlifts” installed! Oh, to dream…
Now, let’s get down to the specifics on how to properly clean and maintain your lovely woolen clothing and accessories!
Wool fibers are extremely durable and can last for decades if you take the time to care for them properly.
Using the gentle cycle on your washing machine, or hand washing with a gentle detergent substitute are the best ways to clean wool and cashmere. And learning how to maintain your clothing will ensure they stay fabulous longer.
If you want to use your washing machine check to see if your washing machine has a specific wool wash cycle. Front load machines often have a special cycle for fine washables. I inherited a stackable when we downsized, so for me, hand washing it is! I’m not saying you can’t use your machine if you don’t have a special cycle for wool, but it helps.
On Amazon you’ll find both The Laundress Wool & Cashmere Shampoo and Wool Worx Wash Fine Fabric Laundry Detergent, which are two of my favorites.
Needless to say, you weren’t planning on putting them in the dryer, right? Whether you wash your fine wool garments by hand or in the machine, you cannot use a dryer if you actually want to wear the item again.
I’m not ashamed to say that when I was first on my own in college, I shrunk my favorite pink angora pullover. It might have been big enough for a toy doll, a really small one.
I was devastated, and right then and there is when I learned how to care for luxury fabrics. It only has to happen once, especially when you have no means of replacing the item you so carelessly shrunk. Looking back, if we had the internet back in the late seventies, I probably would have tried to sell it as a “luxury doll sweater” on Ebay!
Danger Will Robinson! A little warning here, do not be tempted to hang up your wool garments to dry. You will have sags, hanger marks and other terrible things happening if you do so. Always remember, wet wool fibers are much weaker than when they are dry.
Rubbing and friction are sworn enemies of cashmere and wool. Don’t rub or dab at a stain on your favorite sweater, that will just make the stain worse and create a “worn” spot in the fabric.
Never hang your wool garments, as their weight will stretch it out of shape. Store wool and cashmere folded in a drawer or on a shelf. For added protection, place a piece of white tissue paper on top of the body of your sweaters and proceed to fold them as normal. The tissue paper cushions the layers and help the fibers breathe.
Always wash your garment before putting away to prevent moths and bugs which are attracted to dirt. During the off season, it helps if you store your woolens in fabric garment bags, not plastic bags, as natural fibers need to breathe while they are stored.
Amazingly enough, one would think that I wouldn’t have a moth problem in the mountains. Unfortunately, it’s not true. As I discovered last Thanksgiving day, when I found a tiny moth hole in my cranberry sweater dress. Bummer. Luckily, I wear a beautiful scarf around my neck with that dress and it covered the offending hole quite nicely.
The cedar bars I had placed inside my sweater boxes worked like a charm. But the hanging clothes apparently didn’t have enough protection to keep my fabulous knee-length, full-skirted outfit safe from the buggies.
So, this season I’m arming myself with a new discovery I made called vetiver root. It’s a natural bug and moth repellent and comes in both its natural root form and in essential oils. I opted for the root, putting some inside of muslin drawstring pouches and tucking them in the nooks and crannies of my storage boxes/drawers.
Then, I hung a pouch on the hanger of each of my hanging wool garments. I got mine on Amazon, but you can easily find it for sale at numerous online retailers these days. I will prevail! I’ll let you know how it goes.
Oh, I almost forgot, a really great thing about vetiver root is that it can last a very long time. To refresh the scent and reactivate the repelling agents, dampen the roots with a bit of water, let air-dry and then tuck back into their pouches for round two, three, four…
Pilling occurs when a fabric rubs against itself or another surface. You’ll find that the finer, tighter woven wools will pill a bit less, but pilling is a problem for any cashmere sweater once it’s worn a few times.
Now, some unconventional wisdom says that giving your sweater a “vacation” between wearings can actually help reduce pilling. The theory is that while the item is on “vacay”, the wool fibers will return to their original shape, helping them to be more resilient and pill less. Sounds fairly reasonable to me…
Making sure to carefully follow the washing instructions, including turning everything inside-out, will also help keep pilling and wear to a minimum.
Pilling can be removed using a cashmere comb or garment bristle brush — never use anything sharp on your sweater or you permanently damage the fibers. After washing, simply lie the garment flat and use the comb, brushing in one direction to gently remove pills. Voila!
Keep in mind that any item of clothing or fabric that has body odors, skin or oils still attached will attract moths. Even if only one of your items is not cleaned properly, it can contaminate an entire wardrobe of clean woolens.
YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT THIS FAB ARTICLE ON DOING A CLOSET “CLEAN-OUT” WHILE YOU’RE DIGGING OUT YOUR WOOL SWEATERS!
I’ve got a laminated copy of these care instructions hanging in my laundry closet!
I know there’s a lot of information to remember, so I thought that you might like a copy for your laundry room too. Laminating is optional! (I’m so clutzy, I figured I’d probably end up with it wet and running ink within a few months!)
Now, I’ve shown you how to wash, dry, care for and store your fine woolies, just in time for football and hayride season!
Get out there and have some cool weather fun, and don’t forget to post some pics of you in your favorite wool sweater in The Fab Life Facebook Group. Who is that handsome fellow next to you?
We’ll be watching for you! Can’t wait for your Ugly Sweater Christmas Party pics in a few months! I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours first!
Just download and print the FREE PDF, and you’re in business.
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