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gailcalled's avatar

Can I wash a cashmere sweater whose tag says "Dry clean only"?

Asked by gailcalled (52697 points ) January 5th, 2007
Those goats roam around in the rain and don't shrink. So why should the sweaters? Wool lite? Washing mashine on cold and delicate cycle and hang dry?
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15 Answers

skfinkel's avatar
I do this all the time. Wash in cold water, gentle cycle with a good soap. Or hand wash. The only thing that I ever ruined by washing in water was a rayon item.
gailcalled's avatar
What soap do you use?
peggylou's avatar
I use any kind of liquid soap. I'm sure Woolite would be best.
peggylou's avatar
Better to dry flat rather than hanging--that might stretch it out.
auntpeggyo's avatar
I hand wash wool all the time in cold water with Woolite. Just be careful not to wring and stretch the yarn. I then wrap the wet sweater in a large towel, fold it over a few times and "step" on it to get the excess water out, then "shape" it on a flat surface to dry.
erik's avatar
Washing instructions on clothes are for the preferred method of care. Therefore, you can usually get away with hand washing "Dry Clean Only" items by hand in cold water using Woolite. However, cashmere is a much more delicate fabric than wool. True that sheep can wear their wool coats in the rain. But cashemere is a blend. It's usually a lot more expensive too. There are tons of different qualities of cashmere, based on the ply. So if it were single or two ply, take a chance. But, if this is a four or five ply cashmere sweater, it might be worth having dry cleaned. Think about it this way: if it was really expensive then you should probably drop the extra bucks to keep it looking fabulous. One last thing: You only need to dry clean a cashmere sweater once or twice a season. Once in the middle and once before you put it away for the summer. (from Lauren, Erik's gf)
gailcalled's avatar
Cashmere comes from combing or clipping the fleece of a Mongolian goat...so what would the blend be from.
gailcalled's avatar
I have never owned a four or more ply cashmere. Lucky you.
irishdevil99's avatar
I've had mixed results on washing clothes that are supposed to be dry cleaned. Cashmere's expensive enough that I wouldn't try it. If you want a third alternative, there's also a product called Dry-El (I think) that allows you to self-dry clean your clothes. There's a solution you can use to get out dirt spots, and you run them through your dryer in a special bag.
margaretlyles31's avatar

Never washed cashmere. Have question about 3 piece suit made of 70% Silk and 30% Linen. Says dry clean only. I don’t like smell of cleaning fluid. Would like to wash in cold water Woolite. What think ye all? Marge

gailcalled's avatar

@grab: I have owned only cashmere sweaters, which are knitted and not woven. But I do shudder at the thought of a kilt shrinking. There is a “contact us” button at your site. I would ask…

@marg: try the smallest piece (vest?) and treat it very gently. I agree about cleaning fluid; not just the nasty smell but what is going into one’s lungs and then into blood stream. Can you wear the suit as a two-piece without tearing your hair out?

I have been using Woolite (one for lights and one now for dark colors) for cash. sweaters in my washing machine; cold water, gentle settings and 2 minute spin only. Then air-dry on a rack. Seems fine.

mghb's avatar

If you like the item, I would say do what the tag says. The maker of the garment is not gaining anything from you dry cleaning it (i.e. money).

If you really want to take the chance of not being able to wear the sweater again, you could wrap in in a towel, put the towel in a bag – the kind you can put your unmentionable in to wash – wash with a couple of other item – like towels- so the washer stays level. wash in cold, hand-wash cycle. Careful unwrap and lay flat to dry on a sweater drying mesh thing.
You may want to speed up the drying by having a small fan blowing on it.

Never hang this sweater, fold it to store.

Sounds like a lot of work, and it is. Dry cleaning is much easier.

You can save on dry cleaning by after wearing hang on padded hanger spray with Frebrez or the like have a fan blow on it a bit to dry any dampness from the day and the spray. once you are sure it is dry, fold to store. Depending on what you do while wearing it you could wash after 2 – 4 wearings with this method.

qwnb33's avatar

Hi, you should be very careful if you want to wash this, it takes special soap and care. that is why you should use Woolite. It is not like Tide or any other detergent. It does not contain the Enzymes that a detergent does, it is the Enzymes(they are harsh!) that cause the wool to disintegrate, and thus the shrinkage of your lovely sweater to doll-size. Use woolite on sweaters, blankets, anything made of in whole or partly of animal fur.
As a textiles and apparel major, I learned that you cannot use just any “soap” on wool or cashmere…I wash my cashmere, wool and silk using horse shampoo, the same stuff I use to wash my dog! (and it does smell good), mine comes in a tall bottle and is blue in color, and a lot less expensive than woolite(I buy it at Farm & Fleet). I use the delicate cycle, cold water and depending on the article and its weight & design, I either put it in by itself, use a mesh bag or pillow case (knotted at the end). After washing lay flat to dry. My cashmere comes out soft, fresh & clean. Good luck! :-)

KerstinT's avatar

Absolutely you can! And they come out better! I have some 4-ply Paul Stewart cashmere sweaters ($500) and quite a few from TJ Maxx that were cheap. I wash all of them in my HE washer on the handwash cycle, cold water, with 2 caps full of Johnson’s baby shampoo. After taking them out of washer, lay each sweater on 1 or 2 clean towels, roll the towel, lay the rolled towel on a flat surface and press out as much water as possible with your hands. DON’T WRING. Then lay the sweater flat on a dry towel, reshape so it’s flat and allow to air dry. They come out soft and smelling wonderful.

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