Can You Save Shrunken Cashmere?

Cashmere is a beautiful investment that can enhance your wardrobe. Made from the soft fibers from cashmere or pashmina goats, it is a rare material that comes at a premium. The ideal ladies cashmere sweater can last for years with good care. However, because of the delicate nature of the material, cashmere can easily shrink when it is accidentally thrown into the wrong wash cycle.

What can you do if your favorite cashmere sweater ends up soaking wet and shrunk in the wash? Before you donate it to your local thrift store for a child to wear, there is a chance you can save it. The techniques we’re about to share work the best on natural fibers like cashmere and cotton. Synthetic blends are not as responsive to reverse shrinking tricks. This guide will help you determine if you can save your cashmere sweater and give you the best practices for restoring it to its original size.

What Makes Cashmere Shrink and Pill?

Cashmere is synonymous with luxury. Made of rare goat fibers that are soft and light, the fabric is up to three times as warm as sheep’s wool. High-end cashmere comes at a high cost, but it can last for years and be a wardrobe staple that adds much value. But with its delicate softness comes great responsibility to care for it properly. If you wash cashmere in high heat, you can warp its structure and cause the fabric to pill. To make sure that cozy cashmere cardigan women count on doesn’t shrink, be careful keep it separate in the wash from your low-maintenance clothing.

Avoid high heat washing and drying cycles. For the best results, use the delicate or wool cycle and put your clothing in a mesh washing bag. You can also wash your sweater by hand with a gentle cleanser. To resist pilling, turn your sweater inside out before you wash it. After you take the sweater out of the wash, gently stretch it out while it is damp. Always use a detergent that is made for delicate fabrics like wool or cashmere for the best results.

When Can You Save Your Cashmere Sweater?

It can be upsetting to see that your cashmere sweater has shrunk after the wash. The first step to see if it is salvageable is to determine if the fabric has felted. If it has, it will unfortunately not be able to return to its normal size. Check for individual fibers coming out of the sweater. If you see them, then the cashmere hasn't fully felted yet. Next, tug on the sweater to see if there is any stretch left. If your sweater has some give to it, then it might be able to be saved. You can give these following techniques a try to unshrink your cashmere. This method can also work with other natural materials, such as with your women's wool sweater.

What You Need to Save Shrunken Cashmere

To save your cashmere sweater, you need a few household items: a large sink or bucket, stainless steel pins, liquid fabric softener, and a foam board that is as large as your sweater. If you don’t have fabric softener, baby shampoo or a gentle hair conditioner can also work; just make sure it doesn’t contain dyes.

  • Step 1: Fill the sink with lukewarm water. Add two tablespoons of fabric softener or its alternative. Let your sweater soak in this solution for two hours to become more stretchy.
  • Step 2: Take the sweater out of the water, but don’t rinse it. Squeeze the extra moisture out of the sweater gently without wringing the cloth. It's also possible to use a salad spinner to take more of the moisture out, but use this method with care.
  • Step 3: Lay the cashmere flat on the foam board and gently stretch it out as far as you can. Pin the cloth into the foam board in its stretched state and be careful not to rip any seams or pull the cashmere too far.
  • Step 4: After an hour has elapsed, stretch the sweater a little more and re-pin the cloth to the foam board. Repeat the process until the cashmere cannot be stretched further.
  • Step 5: Lay your sweater out until it is fully dry. Finally, wash it according to its proper care instructions.

This strategy works with a wide variety of cashmere apparel such as plus size cashmere sweaters, cardigans, scarves, and more.

After following these steps, you will have done everything possible to return your cashmere sweater to its original state. Keep these tips in mind just in case you ever need to rescue a distressed sweater!