How To Care For a Woolen or Cashmere Sweater?

There’s something undeniably luxurious about woolen and cashmere sweaters. Their soft texture, warmth, and elegance make them wardrobe staples for fashion enthusiasts and sustainable shoppers alike. However, these premium fabrics require special care to maintain their quality and longevity. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the best practices for caring for your woolen and cashmere sweaters, ensuring they remain in pristine condition for years to come.

Why Proper Care Matters

Before diving into the how-to, it's important to understand why proper care is crucial for woolen and cashmere garments. These natural fibers are delicate and can be easily damaged by improper washing, drying, or storage methods. Proper care can:

  • Preserve the softness and integrity of the fibers
  • Prevent pilling, stretching, and shrinking
  • Extend the lifespan of your sweaters
  • Maintain their appearance and comfort

Washing Your Woolen and Cashmere Sweaters

Hand Washing

Hand washing is the gentlest method and is highly recommended for woolen and cashmere sweaters.

Materials Needed:

  • Mild detergent or special wool/cashmere detergent
  • Cold or lukewarm water
  • Clean towel


  1. Fill a Basin: Fill a basin or sink with cold or lukewarm water. Avoid hot water as it can cause shrinking.
  2. Add Detergent: Add a small amount of mild detergent and mix it until it dissolves.
  3. Soak the Sweater: Submerge the sweater in the water, gently swishing it around to ensure it gets clean. Let it soak for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Rinse: Drain the soapy water and refill the basin with clean, cold water. Rinse the sweater thoroughly until all detergent is removed.
  5. Remove Excess Water: Gently press the sweater against the side of the basin to remove excess water. Avoid wringing or twisting as it can stretch the fibers.
  6. Lay Flat to Dry: Lay the sweater flat on a clean towel, roll the towel up with the sweater inside, and gently press to remove more water. Then, reshape the sweater and lay it flat on a dry towel to air dry.

Machine Washing

If hand washing isn't an option, some woolen and cashmere sweaters can be machine washed with caution.

Materials Needed:

  • Mild detergent or special wool/cashmere detergent
  • Mesh laundry bag


  1. Use a Mesh Bag: Place the sweater in a mesh laundry bag to protect it.
  2. Select the Right Cycle: Use the gentle or wool cycle on your washing machine.
  3. Cold Water: Always use cold water to avoid shrinking.
  4. Mild Detergent: Add a small amount of mild detergent.
  5. Lay Flat to Dry: After washing, follow the same drying process as hand washing.


Removing Stains

Stains can be particularly challenging on woolen and cashmere sweaters. Here’s how to tackle them:

  1. Act Quickly: The sooner you treat a stain, the better.
  2. Blot, Don’t Rub: Use a clean cloth to blot the stain. Rubbing can push the stain deeper into the fibers.
  3. Spot Treat: Use a mild detergent or wool-safe stain remover. Apply a small amount to the stain and gently work it in with your fingers or a soft brush.
  4. Rinse Thoroughly: Rinse the treated area with cold water and blot dry.

Preventing and Removing Pilling

Pilling occurs when fibers break and form small balls on the surface of the fabric. Here’s how to prevent and manage it:


  • Turn Inside Out: Turn your sweaters inside out before washing.
  • Wash Gently: Follow the gentle washing instructions above.
  • Avoid Friction: Minimize friction by not wearing your sweaters under heavy coats or with rough fabrics.


  • Fabric Shaver: Use a fabric shaver or sweater stone to gently remove pills.
  • Scissors: Carefully snip off pills with small scissors.

Storing Your Sweaters

Proper storage is essential to maintaining the shape and quality of your woolen and cashmere sweaters.

Short-Term Storage

  1. Fold, Don’t Hang: Hanging can stretch the fibers. Fold your sweaters neatly.
  2. Clean Before Storing: Always clean your sweaters before storing them to avoid attracting moths.

Long-Term Storage

  1. Use Storage Bags: Store your sweaters in breathable cotton storage bags. Avoid plastic as it can trap moisture.
  2. Add Cedar or Lavender: Use cedar blocks or lavender sachets to repel moths and keep your sweaters fresh.
  3. Store in a Cool, Dry Place: Keep your sweaters in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Dealing with Moths

Moths can wreak havoc on woolen and cashmere garments. Here’s how to protect your sweaters:

  1. Clean Regularly: Moths are attracted to dirt and oils. Regular cleaning helps deter them.
  2. Use Moth Repellents: Cedar blocks, lavender sachets, and mothballs can help keep moths away.
  3. Inspect Storage Areas: Regularly check your storage areas for signs of moths.
  4. Freeze Infested Items: If you suspect a moth infestation, place the affected sweater in a plastic bag and freeze it for a few days to kill any larvae.

Refreshing Your Sweaters

Between washes, you can refresh your sweaters to keep them looking and smelling great.


Use a handheld steamer to remove wrinkles and odors. Hold the steamer a few inches away from the fabric and move it gently over the surface.

Airing Out

Hang your sweaters outside on a breezy day, away from direct sunlight, to air them out.

Repairing Damage

Small holes or snags can be repaired to extend the life of your sweaters.


Use a matching thread to darn small holes. Weave the thread in and out of the fabric to close the hole.

Snag Repair

For snags, gently pull the fabric around the snag to even out the fibers. Use a crochet hook to pull the snagged thread to the inside of the sweater.


Caring for your woolen and cashmere sweaters may require a bit more effort, but the rewards are well worth it. By following these guidelines, you can ensure your sweaters remain soft, beautiful, and in excellent condition for years to come. Embrace the luxury and sustainability of these timeless fabrics by giving them the care they deserve.


Q: Can I use regular detergent for my woolen and cashmere sweaters?

A: It’s best to use a mild detergent or one specifically designed for wool and cashmere. Regular detergents can be too harsh and may damage the fibers.

Q: How often should I wash my woolen and cashmere sweaters?

A: You don’t need to wash them after every wear. Washing them every 3-5 wears or when they are visibly dirty or have absorbed odors is usually sufficient.

Q: What should I do if my sweater shrinks?

A: If your sweater shrinks, try soaking it in lukewarm water with a small amount of hair conditioner. Gently stretch it back to its original shape and let it air dry.

Q: Can I iron my woolen and cashmere sweaters?

A: It’s better to steam them instead of ironing. If you must iron, use a low heat setting, place a cloth between the iron and the sweater, and avoid pressing down too hard.

Q: How can I prevent moths from damaging my sweaters?

A: Clean your sweaters before storing them, use cedar or lavender sachets, and store them in breathable cotton bags. Regularly inspect your storage areas for signs of moths.