How to wash cashmere without damaging your luxe items

Learn how to wash cashmere like the pros for a soft and cozy result

Close up of beige cashmere material
(Image credit: Getty Images)

After investing in some pricey knitwear, learning how to wash cashmere the right way is essential to keep your winter staples in good shape. 

Maybe you've spilled some coffee on your cozy scarf or noticed some odors coming from your favorite sweater. It's time to banish those stains and nasty smells so your knitwear is looking and feeling fresh. 

The delicate fibers in this luxe material need some extra attention but don't worry, it's easier than you think to wash cashmere at home. Once you know how to do laundry properly, you can skip those costly trips to the dry cleaners.

How to wash cashmere like a pro

Cashmere can be a tricky fabric to work with but once you have all the laundry room essentials you're going to need, like a mild laundry detergent and stain removers (we like Miss Mouth's stain treater available on Amazon), it's a breeze to wash. 

Much like washing a wool blanket, the first step is to know what you're working with. Make sure to check the laundry symbols on the care tag to look for washing guidance. These should be able to tell you if your cashmere is dry clean only and if it can be exposed to heat.

Step 1: treat stains

Before you get started, you'll need to spot-clean any stains on your cashmere garment. You can get rid of food stains pretty easily using a gentle detergent like Tide Free & Gentle detergent, available on Amazon mixed with water. Let this soak for a few minutes so the detergent can penetrate the stains.

"Address any stains before washing by spot-treating with a mild detergent. Avoid using harsh chemicals that may damage the delicate fibers," says Angela Rubin, a cleaning expert from Hellamaid.

Angela Rubin, cleaning expert at HellaMaid
Angela Rubin

Angela Rubin works at Hellamaid, a top-rated cleaning company in Canada. Hellamaid are industry experts specializing in residential and commercial cleaning services. 

Step 2: fill a basin with cold water

The best way to wash cashmere is by hand, so you're going to need to fill a washing basin or bucket (this collapsible tub available on Amazon should do the job) with cold water. You can also use your bathtub or your kitchen sink, just make sure to give it a good clean beforehand. 

Mix a detergent like this Outback Gold Wool Wash available on Amazon in with the water. If you do not have a specialized wool product, you can use a gentle shampoo (we like Johnson's baby shampoo available on Amazon) since wool is made from hair fibers.

Step 3: soak

Submerge your cashmere garment in the cold, soapy water and let soak for no more than thirty minutes. "You can gently swirl and agitate the sweater in the water to give it a good mix but avoid being too harsh. You also don't want to leave it to soak for too long as that may damage the fibers," says cleaning expert, Karina Toner.

Karina Toner, Operations Manager, Spekless Cleaning
Karina Toner

Karina Toner is a cleaning expert and the Operations Manager at Washington D.C.-based Spekless Cleaning. 

Step 4: rinse

Rinse your cashmere item under cold, running water until all the soap is gone and the water runs clear. "Make sure you rinse all the soap off as you don't want to get stuck with an unpleasant residue," says Angela.

Step 5: towel dry

Don't throw your cashmere sweater in the dryer as the heat will damage the material, cause it to shrink and distort the shaping. "Whatever you do, don't use a tumble dryer as cashmere is not suitable for heat. Keep it away from radiators and other heat sources too," says Karina. 

Instead, gently squeeze out excess water by pressing the garment in your hands (not wringing it out). Then lay it out flat on top of a clean, dry towel, and roll the towel to absorb water. 

Lay the garment flat to air dry for a few hours. If you're drying laundry in a small space, this Amazon Basics rack can be a great solution. Just be sure to drape the sweater over so it's evenly distributed and won't dry in a warped shape.


Can I machine wash cashmere?

While we recommend hand washing to play it safe, you can actually throw your cashmere in the washing machine if you use a gentle or delicate cycle. Just be sure to wash your items in a delicates bag such as these mesh laundry bags from Amazon.

How often should I wash cashmere?

You don't have to wash cashmere too often as you want to keep the fibers as soft and cozy as possible. We recommend every three to four wears. It also helps to air out your sweater in between wears to combat odors.

It's a pretty common laundry myth that you can only dry clean cashmere. While you may be a little nervous to throw that pricey sweater in the wash at home taking it to the dry cleaners may actually erode the fibers over time due to the chemical processes used.

As long as you avoid using bleach and other harsh products, your garments should come out safe and sound.

Emily Lambe
Deputy Editor

Hey! I’m Emily and I’m the deputy digital editor at Real Homes. I’m here to bring you the latest decor trends, inspirational ideas and the best budget-friendly buys. I live in a rented apartment, making the most of small spaces and using accent pieces to make things pop. When I’m not writing, I’m usually doing yoga, eating chocolate or working on my skincare routine.