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You need to know how to care for your Fall and Winter sweaters!  My Wool and Cashmere Laundry Care Guide will keep your wooley wardrobe investment looking fabulous all season long.

wool and cashmere laundry care guide

WOOL AND CASHMERE LAUNDRY CARE GUIDE

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!) 

wool and cashmere laundry care guide

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 lamb-in-a-sweaterthe 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?

 

IF IT’S SEPTEMBER, IT’S TIME TO GATHER MY WOOL ITEMS FOR THE SEASON

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:

  • Does it need to be cleaned?  Are there any stains that need to be pre-treated?
  • Does it need dry cleaning or can I DIY it?
  • Is it missing a button or need the zipper repaired/replaced?
  • Does it need mending?
  • Is there any pilling to remove?
  • Does it still fit?
  • DO I STILL LOVE IT?

 

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 & CASHMERE LAUNDRY CARE GUIDE – How to Wash Wool Properly

wool care and laundry guide

 

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.

  • Gather all your soiled woolens and do one larger load.  It’s better to have the garments tumbling against each other, it lessens the wear-and-tear on the individual items.
  • Do a quick check on your washer’s water temperature. You don’t want to wash your fine woolens in water any hotter than 85 degrees Fahrenheit. (believe it or not, the best way to do this is by using a medical thermometer, as kitchen versions don’t start at such a low temperature!)
  • Rinsing should be in cool, not cold water, and a gentle spin cycle is best.  More reasons my rudimentary machine is not right for the job.
  • I generally stick to a made-for-wool product, or in a pinch, I’ll use a little squirt of baby shampoo.  My reasoning is, sheep and alpaca have hair, and so do people.  Case closed.

 

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.

 

caring for wool and cashmere

 

Washing Machine Instructions:

  1. Turn garments inside-out and place in machine.  I like to use a lingerie laundry bag for each item to help prevent pilling.  I buy them online in multi-packs!
  2. Add your detergent of choice following the product instructions.
  3. Change the settings on your machine and start load. 
  4. When finished, take out the items and lay them flat on a dry towel and gently roll up and squeeze the towel to help remove excess moisture.  (See additional drying info below)

 

Hand Wash Instructions:  (one piece at a time)

  1. Fill a sink, tub or basin with tepid water.  Add appropriate amount of detergent according to product instructions.  Disperse the detergent by swishing the wash water with your hands.  
  2. Immerse your garment in the water, gently swirling around until it is completely wet. Gently move garment around with your hands, paying more attention to any stained/soiled areas that you had pre-treated. (see notes below)  Let garment soak for 20 minutes, or up to 30 minutes for particularly soiled items. 
  3. Drain the dirty water and fill vessel with cool, clean water.  Gently move garment about for a few minutes to rinse the detergent from the item.  Repeat the process once more to remove any residual detergent. 
  4. Drain the water and gently press the garment into a ball and squeeze.  You can also push the balled item against the side of the vessel to help remove moisture.  DON’T WRING.  JUST DON’T DO IT! (See additional drying info below)

 

three-sweaters-laying-flat

DRYING YOUR WOOLEN CLOTHING

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! 

 

Drying Instructions: wool and cashmere laundry care guide

  1.  After squeezing out the excess water, lay the wet garment on a clean towel. (I like beach towels)  Roll it up like a sleeping bag to remove remaining excess moisture. Repeat for heavy sweaters if necessary.
  2. Lay the garment flat on a fresh dry towel or drying rack.  Take a few moments to pull the sweater’s sleeves, shoulders and hem back into their natural shape. Let the items air dry.

 

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.  

 

TREATING STAINS GENTLY

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.

  • Work a stain remover into the area before washing the garment.  Don’t get overzealous and use to much, and be gentle as you work it into the stain.
  • Rubbing or friction can cause the fabric weave to pull out of shape and/or create a fuzzy spot. Ugg!   Pretend you’re giving your sweater a gentle massage to relax it after a hard day at the harvest festival.   That’ll do the trick!

 

wool and cashmere laundry care guide

 

PROLONGING THE LIFE OF YOUR FINE WOOLENS

  • NEVER HANG WOOL OR CASHMERE

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. 

 

  • NEVER STORE A SOILED WOOL GARMENT  

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. 

 

  • USING A MOTH REPELLENT IN YOUR OFF-SEASON STORAGE

Amazingly enough, one would think that I wouldn’t have a moth problem in the mountains.  Unfortunately, it’s wool and cashmere laundry care guidenot 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…

 

  • REMOVING PILLING FROM CASHMERE

wool and cashmere laundry care guidePilling 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!

 

STORING YOUR FRESHLY CLEANED WOOLIES

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.

  • Woollen clothing and blankets should be folded with acid-free tissue paper and stored in air-tight containers or vacuum bags
  • Wool coats should be cleaned, dried, brushed and aired out before storing them in breathable, natural-cotton coat bags for summer storage
  • In humid climates, wrapping clothing or fabric in lengths of clean cotton will protect your items from moisture or condensation
  • Using cedar planks, sticks or balls, or bags of lavender  stored with your woolen clothing can help repel moths. 

 

YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT THIS FAB ARTICLE ON DOING A CLOSET “CLEAN-OUT” WHILE YOU’RE DIGGING OUT YOUR WOOL SWEATERS!

HOW TO DO A CLOSET CLEAN OUT

 

FREE WOOL & CASHMERE LAUNDRY CARE GUIDE PRINTABLE PDF

wool and cashmere laundry care guide

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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