How to store, Vol. 1: cashmere
Time to give your winter knitwear some rest! Here is the definitive guide on how to store your precious cashmere sweaters - Andrea Karg, the founder of German cashmere label ALLUDE, explains the essential details to keep them in perfect condition.
Winter is finally over - time to get your wardrobe sorted. So say bye bye to your favorite cashmere sweaters and give them a rest - at least for the next sunny months ahead. To welcome your beauties back in excellent shape next winter, careful storage is key. Who knows best how to do it? Andrea Karg, the founder of German luxury cashmere label ALLUDE, has the answer to all our questions (and the ones we did not even know we had). She even opened a Cashmere Clinic in Munich where you can take (or send) all the cashmere patients you refuse to let die (the ones with holes, even moth holes!). So how do I prepare my cashmere for its summer retreat? „At the end of the season, all your cashmere darlings should be washed, de-pilled and, if necessary, be repaired before you store them“, she says.
So first, wash.
Why is this important even if you have worn your cashmere sweater only once before summer kicked in? Because the closet monsters aka moths not only like fine cashmere fibres. They love them even more with human smells, hair and skin flakes. That is why you should never store worn, unwashed clothing in your closet over an extended period.
Her mantra when it comes to washing makes sense: „Treat your cashmere sweaters like your hair.“ She recommends liquid wool detergent or hair shampoo because, in her opinion, even mild detergents are not delicate enough. „They alkalize, detract wool fat and can cause holes. And special colour detergents contain soluble protein enzymes which weaken the fine hair.“ Her favourite choice are special cashmere soaps. There are many different ones on the market, from chic N.Y. label The Laundress, but Germany´s queen of cashmere developed her own in collaboration with Speick Naturkosmetik: „It does not only clean, but it also nourishes cashmere wool. Etherial oils also give it a natural, light smell.“
„Always wash your cashmere in your washing machine, using the wool program. When you do the basics right, it is much better for your sweaters: Always turn your piece inside out to go easy on the outside. And fill the washing drum only half.“
If you really love your sweaters, Andrea Karg recommends putting every single one in its very own laundry bag. An extra tip from the expert: Pillow covers work just as well!
Thirty degrees for a short time is where your cashmere feels best.
„Colder temperatures do not make sense because particles of dirt cannot dissolve and the detergent substances do not develop their impact“, says the cashmere expert. The important fact we also did not know: „Wool consists of proteins. At temperatures higher than 30 degrees, they coagulate - the fibre gets destroyed. That´s when your cashmere dies.“
No problems with this according to Andrea Karg. A short period of tumbling at a low speed later helps the drying process and promotes the airy, light character of cashmere we so adore.
Always let your cashmere dry lying flat, „unless you prefer your sweater a little longer, in which case you are welcome to hang it on a padded hanger“, comments the expert. To achieve the perfect, original shape of your sweater, lay it on a drying rack with a dry, absorbent cloth underneath. Avoid stretching it; instead, simply shake it up and lay it down loosely. And pay extra attention to the sleeves: „Even the sleeves should not dangle, but lying flat. If you squeeze the wristbands slightly, they will keep their elasticity.“ She also emphasises on not trying to speed up the process by drying cashmere near heating units or in the sun. „This hardens the fibre, and the colours lose their glow!“. Instead, turn sweaters around and change the cloth underneath.
Don´t forget to de-pill:
As we all know, even the finest cashmere is prone to pilling, the tiny little nods that make a sweater look many years older. Andrea Karg recommends a special cashmere comb. „Do never use cashmere razors as they can damage the knit stitches!“
In a cool, dark and dry closet with as much space as possible. Andrea Karg: „Avoid too high and too tight staples - cashmere does not like to be squeezed.“
The perfect way to avoid creasing according to her is to not fold them one by one, but to pile them up in their original form and then fold them over. „And it is always a good idea to put the heavier pieces at the bottom and the lighter ones on top.“ Superfluous to say that hanging knitwear is not an option because it makes it loose its shape.
And don´t forget to mind the moths!
The most dreaded scenario of cashmere lovers is moths moving in. To prevent it, „reorganise your wardrobe at least two times a year to keep the little monsters from settling down. And air your wardrobe once a week.“ To be extra sure, Andrea Karg recommends to store your washed cashmere in linen bags and add cedarwood or fragrant sachets with lavender, thyme, or sage. If, while transitioning your wardrobe from winter to summer, you have noticed a little moth hole in one of your items, cleaning your closet and all garments is the only option. Luckily, there is one surefire weapon to win the war: cold. „Very cold temperatures kill voracious grubs, so shake out infested items, pack them in a plastic bag and place them for one week in the freezer.“ Or outside, if the temperatures are below zero, of course.