There’s nothing quite like those first chilly days of the fall season, when you finally toss your T-shirts aside and throw on a cozy sweater for the first time in months—especially if it’s a tried-and-true cashmere one that you look forward to unpacking from storage year after year.
It’s no secret—or surprise, given the vast differences in sweater prices—that some sweaters last longer than others. If you pick one up for $10 at a fast-fashion store, it’s probably going to survive one season of wear, but if you choose to invest in higher-quality ones, you might not have to buy another sweater for years. And those higher-quality ones? They’re likely made of cashmere.
Cashmere has a reputation for being one of the softest materials ever, but what exactly is it, how much is normal to be spending on it, and most importantly, once you own it, how do you take care of it? We’re giving you the ultimate deep dive into cashmere and how to make the most of the chilly season’s best material.
What exactly is cashmere?
Cashmere is a form of wool, characterized by the fineness of its fibers, according to Masterclass. It’s widely considered to be one of the most high-end fibers and errs on the more expensive side due to its production process in which fibers are separated by hand from the molted coats of goats.
Cashmere comes from two places: cashmere goats and pashmina goats. The fibers are generally taken from the underside of goats or near the neck region. Once the goats shed their coats, their wool is gathered, and the cashmere is combed out of it.
How to take care of cashmere
Once you have cashmere in your wardrobe, you don’t want to make the wrong move and risk shrinking it or harming the fibers. Luckily, taking care of cashmere isn’t as hard as you might assume and definitely shouldn’t be a deterrent from buying it. The idea that you need to dry-clean cashmere every time it needs a wash? Also a myth.
The safest way to wash your cashmere is by hand, with a detergent that’s specifically formulated for cashmere and wool.
- Fill your sink or a bucket with lukewarm water, then add a squirt of cashmere-specific detergent
- Submerge your sweater (or any cashmere piece) and gently swirl it in the detergent-filled water
- Let the sweater soak for up to 30 minutes
- Once it’s been soaked, rinse it with clean water (that’s lukewarm or cool, not hot)
- Avoid wringing it. Instead, remove the water by pressing the sweater into a ball. After the excess water is out, lay it flat and allow it to air dry
Be sure to give your cashmere some TLC between washes. Even when you’re being careful and hand-washing, over-washing your sweaters can lead to the fibers wearing down more quickly. Only wash them when you absolutely have to.
Our favorite cashmere
Yes, cashmere is on the pricier side, but that doesn’t mean a sweater needs to run you hundreds of dollars. Our favorite cashmere sweaters run the cost of a couple of your fast-fashion ones, but with a little care, these will last you years longer.