How to Make Your Favorite Cashmere Sweater Last Forever

Turn this beloved garment into an heirloom by following these shopping, washing, mending, and maintenance tips.

blue cashmere sweater
Photo: minianne / Getty Images

A cashmere sweater is a timeless garment that makes every cold-weather outfit chic. Notably versatile, these essentials pair nicely with relaxed jeans, faux leather leggings, smart trousers, and even skirts. That said, some might consider cashmere high maintenance.

The delicate textile requires gentle washing and proper storage, and it's also prone to issues like pilling, odor retention, and tiny tears. Follow this advice to keep your cashmere sweater looking brand new for years to come—you might even wear it forever, say our experts.

Signs of a High-Quality Cashmere Sweater

Not all cashmere sweaters are created equally, and a high-quality garment is better equipped to stand the test of time. Here's what to look for when shopping for cashmere.

The Label Says "100% Cashmere"

To identify a high-quality sweater, take a look at the label to see if it says 100% cashmere, advises Madeline Miller, product specialist for The Laundress. Often, cashmere is blended with lower-quality fibers and synthetics, which will be listed on the tag.

The Cost Seems Right

In some cases, a product might say it's 100% or mostly cashmere, but the price tag doesn't reflect that. "There is no such thing as cheap, high-quality cashmere," says Betina Moreira Infante, co-founder of luxury textile company Hangai Mountain Textiles. "If [a cashmere product] is billed as pure cashmere but is promoted at an unrealistically low price, then something is fishy."

If you come across a low-budget "cashmere" item, it's likely been blended with other fibers and falsely labeled. It could also be a play on words. For instance, some cashmere sweaters are marketed with phrases like "with a cashmere feel or touch."

It Feels Luxurious

Cashmere has earned itself the "diamond fiber" nickname largely because of how luxurious it feels on the skin. "The highest quality cashmere will feel airy and noticeably soft," says Miller. On the other hand, "if the cashmere has a rough, scratchy quality to it when you touch it or glide it over a sensitive area of your skin like the inner arm, it is likely it is not high-quality cashmere."

It's Undyed or Naturally Dyed

This wool type is a very delicate fiber, and harsh dyes can take a toll on quality. "Quality cashmere, if dyed, is dyed with natural or organic dyes that are more delicate on the fiber and require less softening, which can weaken the fiber," says Infante.

How to Care for Cashmere Sweaters

If you've splurged on a high-quality cashmere sweater, it only makes sense that you'd want it to last year after year—something that ultimately comes down to proper care. When you're ready to give it a wash, check the label first, advises Jennifer Ahoni, principal fabric care specialist at Procter & Gamble. "Many cashmere garments have guidance for professional dry clean only, but some cashmere garments can be hand washed," she says.

Hand Washing

Should your sweater be washable by hand, fill a sink or tub basin with cold water and mild detergent intended for hand washing or approved for delicate fabrics.

  1. Make sure the water and detergent are mixed well, then add your cashmere sweater and allow it to soak for about 30 minutes.
  2. "Remove the sweater, refill with clean, cool water, then submerge again to remove excess soap," says Ahoni.
  3. Next, drain and press excess water from fabric between your hands or against a flat surface like the edge of your tub, sink, or basin.
  4. Allow the sweater to air dry, making sure to avoid heat sources like radiators and sunlight.

Machine Washing

It's ideal to hand wash cashmere sweaters, but it's still possible to use a washing machine if you're under a time crunch. To protect your garment, place it inside of a mesh washing bag which helps prevent excess agitation in the machine. "Select a delicate cycle, cool water, and low spin, as high temperatures and high agitation can cause shrinkage and loss of shape," warns Ahoni.

Infante recommends washing one item at a time to help prevent excess agitation. She also says you can add a touch of natural hair conditioner in the rinse cycle, which helps condition the cashmere and keeps it extra soft. Once the cycle is complete, remove the cashmere sweater promptly and air dry away from a heat source.

How to Mend Cashmere Sweaters


Pills are tiny "fuzzballs" that accumulate on cashmere sweaters and are caused by friction. Though harmless, they can impact the appearance of your sweater, so it makes sense to remove them. "While motorized fabric shavers can reduce pills, they often can thin out fabrics and lead to rips and holes," warns Miller.

Instead, she recommends using a tool that specifically removes pills. These gently glide over fabrics to delicately lift away pills and lint without thinning or tearing. "Glide in one direction over the affected area, then discard pills as needed," says Miller. "This also helps renew and smooth the look of cashmere!"

Snags, Holes, and Tears

Small snags, holes, and tears can be hand-mended with a needle and matching thread. Starting on the underside of the garment, carefully draw the needle up on one side of the tear and down on the opposite and repeat as necessary.

For larger holes, Infante recommends reaching out to the company to see if it's possible to mend the garment. Some retailers have repair programs or can put you in touch with a local business. You can also contact a reputable seamstress to see if it's possible to fix the torn garment.

Lingering Odors

Cashmere can absorb and hold onto odors. To address any unwanted scents, wash regularly following the instructions above. For more intense odors—like moth balls, musty scents, and strong body odor—Miller advises pre-soaking your cashmere sweater in diluted vinegar. (A scented vinegar suited for garments is even better.)

"Vinegar naturally dissolves odors and buildup, so it's a great solution to add into your laundry routine," she says. "To pre-soak, fill a basin, sink, or tub with cool water and add [the vinegar]. Soak for 15 minutes, then proceed with washing as outlined above."

For a quick fix, use a fabric refreshing spray.

How to Store Cashmere Sweaters

Wash First

Always wash your cashmere sweaters before storing them for the season. This makes them less appealing to bugs and critters, and also prevents odors and stains from setting into the fabric.

Fold and Store

After washing and drying, fold your cashmere sweater and place it in a breathable, protective canvas storage bag or box to keep dust out and to prevent yellowing. Avoid storing cashmere in cardboard or plastic, which traps moisture and can lead to mildew and yellowing.

Store With Lavender or Cedar

Infante also recommends throwing in a sachet of lavender, which is a natural moth repellent. You could also store them in a cedar closet or with cedar chips, which is a time-old technique for keeping garments smelling fresh and free of pests.

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