Can You Wash Cashmere in the Washing Machine?

Cashmere, known for its luxurious softness and warmth, is a prized material in the world of fashion. However, its delicate nature makes many people hesitant about how to properly care for it. One common question that arises is: Can you wash cashmere in the washing machine? The notion challenges traditional care methods and piques curiosity. This detailed guide will explore the nuances of washing cashmere in a machine, providing guidelines, tips, and safety measures to help you maintain your cherished garments without compromising their quality.

Understanding Cashmere

To fully grasp the intricacies of washing cashmere, it’s essential to understand what makes this fabric so special and delicate. Cashmere is made from the fine undercoat fibers of cashmere goats, predominantly found in regions such as Mongolia, China, and Nepal.

  1. Fiber Properties: Cashmere fibers are incredibly soft, lightweight, and have excellent insulating properties. They are also more delicate compared to sheep’s wool, requiring gentle care.
  2. Durability: While cashmere is prized for its luxurious feel, its fine fibers can be prone to pilling and stretching if not treated correctly.
  3. Cost Factor: Cashmere is among the more expensive natural fibers, which makes proper care even more crucial to protect your investment.

Understanding these properties can guide you in taking the necessary precautions when cleaning cashmere.

Traditional Care Recommendations

Traditionally, cashmere has been considered a fabric that requires special handling, often recommended for hand washing or dry cleaning only.

  1. Hand Washing: Gently washing cashmere by hand in lukewarm water with mild detergent is the preferred method. This minimizes the risk of stretching, shrinking, or damaging the fibers.
  2. Dry Cleaning: Professional dry cleaning services offer another safe option, especially for heavily soiled or stained garments.
  3. Avoiding Heat: Both methods stress the importance of avoiding heat, which can cause cashmere to shrink and lose its softness.

These traditional care methods underscore the caution needed when dealing with cashmere, hinting at why machine washing might be considered risky.

Machine Washing: Is It Possible?

Despite traditional advice, advancements in washing machines and laundry detergents have made it possible to wash cashmere in a washing machine, provided you follow precise guidelines.

  1. Modern Washing Machines: Many modern machines come with delicate or wool cycles that simulate the gentle motion of hand washing, accompanied by controlled water temperatures.
  2. Special Detergents: Mild, wool-safe detergents are designed to clean delicate fibers without causing harm. These detergents maintain the softness and integrity of cashmere.
  3. Precautions: Even with these advancements, machine washing cashmere requires adhering to strict precautions to prevent damage.

By using the right settings and products, you can safely clean cashmere in a washing machine.

Choosing the Right Machine Settings

To safely wash cashmere in a washing machine, selecting the correct settings is paramount. Here’s what to consider:

  1. Delicate/Wool Cycle: Choose the delicate or wool cycle on your washing machine. These cycles are designed to mimic the gentle agitation of hand washing and use lower spin speeds.
  2. Cold Water: Always opt for cold water to prevent shrinking and damage. Cashmere fibers can react poorly to hot water, leading to changes in texture and size.
  3. Low Spin Speed: A low spin speed reduces the strain on the fibers, preventing stretching and deformation.

Carefully selecting these settings can help protect your cashmere garments during the washing process.

Washing Machine

Using the Right Detergent

Not all detergents are suitable for cashmere. Using the right one is crucial for maintaining the fabric’s softness and longevity.

  1. Wool-Safe Detergents: Special detergents formulated for wool are ideal for cashmere. These products are mild and free from harsh chemicals that can damage delicate fibers.
  2. Avoiding Regular Detergents: Regular detergents, particularly those with enzymes or bleach, can deteriorate cashmere. Always read the label to ensure the detergent is wool-safe.
  3. Proper Dosage: Use only a small amount of detergent. Excessive detergent can be difficult to rinse out and may leave residues that affect the feel of the fabric.

Opting for the appropriate detergent ensures that your cashmere remains soft and luxurious.

Preparing Cashmere Garments for Washing

Preparing your cashmere garments correctly before washing can further protect them from damage.

  1. Turning Inside Out: Turn garments inside out to reduce friction and prevent pilling on the outer surface.
  2. Using a Mesh Bag: Place cashmere items in a mesh laundry bag. This provides an extra layer of protection against the machine’s agitator.
  3. Washing Similar Items Together: Wash cashmere items with other delicate fabrics to ensure they get the gentle treatment they require.

Proper preparation can significantly reduce the risk of damage during the wash cycle.

Drying Cashmere

Drying is a critical stage in caring for cashmere. Improper drying can ruin the fabric’s texture and shape.

  1. Avoid the Dryer: Never put cashmere in a tumble dryer. The heat and agitation can cause severe shrinkage and damage.
  2. Flat Drying: Gently reshape the garment and lay it flat on a clean towel. Roll up the towel to absorb excess water, then lay the garment flat on a dry towel to air dry.
  3. Avoiding Direct Sunlight: Keep cashmere away from direct sunlight and heat sources during drying. These can fade colors and weaken the fibers.

Following these drying steps helps maintain the garment’s original shape and softness.

Washing Machine

Addressing Common Concerns

Concerns about washing cashmere in a machine often arise due to potential risks. Here’s how to address some common worries:

  1. Shrinkage: Cold water, gentle cycles, and proper drying methods help mitigate the risk of shrinkage. Always follow care labels and washing guidelines.
  2. Pilling: Turning garments inside out, using mesh bags, and washing with other delicates can minimize friction and reduce pilling.
  3. Stretching: Laying cashmere flat to dry and avoiding hangers helps prevent stretching and deformation.

Understanding and addressing these concerns can reassure you about machine washing cashmere.

Environmental Considerations

Machine washing cashmere, when done correctly, can be more environmentally friendly than frequent dry cleaning.

  1. Reduced Chemical Usage: Home washing uses fewer chemicals compared to dry cleaning, which often relies on solvents like perchloroethylene.
  2. Energy Efficiency: Modern washing machines are designed for energy efficiency. Using cold water cycles further conserves energy.
  3. Water Conservation: Washing full loads and using the correct detergent dosage can help conserve water.

Integrating environmentally friendly practices into your cashmere care routine can benefit both the fabric and the planet.

Frequency of Washing

How often should you wash your cashmere garments? Over-washing can wear out the fibers, so consider the frequency carefully.

  1. Spot Cleaning: Minor stains and spills can often be spot cleaned, reducing the need for full washes.
  2. Wearing Frequency: Wash cashmere based on how often it’s worn. Garments worn close to the skin or regularly should be washed more frequently than outer layers.
  3. Smell and Feel: Use your judgment. If the garment feels or smells fresh, it might not need washing yet.

Balancing cleanliness with fabric preservation helps your cashmere last longer.

Washing MachineStoring Cashmere

Proper storage between wears and after washing is crucial for maintaining cashmere’s quality.

  1. Clean Before Storing: Always wash cashmere garments before storing them for long periods, such as at the end of the season.
  2. Fold, Don’t Hang: Fold cashmere items and store them in a breathable fabric bag or container to avoid stretching and moth damage.
  3. Use Cedar or Lavender: Natural moth repellents like cedar balls or lavender sachets can protect cashmere from moths and other pests.

Storing cashmere correctly helps preserve its quality and longevity.

Alternative Care Methods

While machine washing is possible, alternative care methods remain valuable, especially for particularly delicate or valuable items.

  1. Professional Hand Washing: Some professional laundries offer hand washing services, combining gentle care with professional cleaning standards.
  2. Home Hand Washing: For a cautious approach, hand wash at home. Use cold water, a gentle wool detergent, and avoid wringing the fabric.
  3. Steam Cleaning: Steaming can refresh cashmere between washes, removing odors and minor wrinkles without full immersion.

These alternatives offer additional options for caring for your cashmere garments.


So, can you wash cashmere in the washing machine? Yes, with the right precautions and settings, it is possible to wash cashmere using a modern washing machine. By selecting the appropriate cycle, using a wool-safe detergent, preparing the garments properly, and following proper drying techniques, you can maintain the luxurious softness and longevity of your cashmere. While traditional hand washing and dry cleaning methods remain excellent options, machine washing offers a convenient alternative when done correctly. Understanding these care methods ensures that your cashmere remains a cherished part of your wardrobe for years to come.