Care of Silk & Cashmere



Some silks are washable, for others dry cleaning is recommended.  Do not wash silk if the colours are not fast.  Keep silk out of strong sunlight.  Before washing, test for colourfastness.  Wet a small piece of the fabric in cool water and then lay it on a piece of white material.  Press it with a warm iron.  If it leaves no colour or hardly any mark on the white fabric, then you can safely wash it.

Normally silk is best washed by hand with a mild detergent in luke warm water.  Rinse well, squeeze out the surplus moisture by rolling in a towel and hang to dry.  Never soak, boil, bleach or wring silk or leave it crumpled in a towel.  Do not let silk become too dirty before washing as hard rubbing will damage the fibres.

These days washing machines often have a programme for wahsing delicate articles at a temperature of 30 - 40 degrees.  Provided great care is taken and the above recommendations are followed, many silk articles can be successfully washed by machine.

Marks should be rubbed lightly with a sponge or brush.  Dry silk away from the sun or direct heat.  Press on the wrong side with a warm iron.  Slubbed fabrics, crepes and most wild wilks should be pressed when dry and others when slightly (and evenly) damp.  Finish off lightly on the right side.  When pressing silk with a rib or slub, use a pressing cloth, otherwise the silk may become fluffy.  Do not press with steam or re-damp silk locally as water staining may occur.  If the silk water stains, then dip the garment in warm water for 2 to 3 minutes, dry and re-iron.

It is important to avoid soaking silk if it has a flame resistane finish.

Badly stained garments should be dry-cleaned.  Do not try to remove stains with a stain remover at home.  Tell the dry-cleaner what caused the stain.  Choose your dry-cleaner carefully.  Make sure that he can clean silk properly.  Use a dry-cleaner whom you have used for silk before or who has been recommended to you.  Silk that should be dry-cleaned includes taffetas, chiffons, brocades, many multi-coloured prints, dressing gown fabrics, ties and scarves.

With all that information supplied by the textile factory in mind, here's my hint for washing the jersey...

When wet, the knit of the jersey will tighten.  I have found if I lay the garment flat on a towel in the shade and take the time to smooth it out this ensures no shrinkage.  I then give it a quick cool iron on the wrong side.



Cashmere is a natural fibre combed from the goats of the mountain regions of Kashmir in India, Mongolia and North West China. Pilling is unavoidable and happens when shorter fibres separate from the longer fibres in the yarn.

There are distinct advantages to hand washing cashmere.  These loose fibres, which have worked their way to the surface of the garment, get washed away which helps to alleviate pilling.  Repeated gentle washing helps retain the natural softness of cashmere.  Dry cleaning does not dispose of loose fibres.  Repeated dry cleaning with its harsh chemicals can strip the natural oils from the cashmere fibres and in time reduce the soft hand feel.  An accumulation of dry cleaning chemicals will also dull the colour.

Wash your cashmere item in cool/lukewarm water with a very gentle detergent or a shampoo (it is hair).  Do not use fabric softeners or any product with bleach.  Do not use a washing machine because it is difficult to control the water temperature.  Also, the spin cycles are very harsh and they distort the fibres too much, causing the garment to look ‘fluffy’.  Rinse several times, then gently roll up in a towel to remove excess water.  Do not wring or rub the garment.

Lay the garment flat on a towel or drying rack away from the heat (such as a heater).  Never hang cashmere or wool as it can easily stretch out of shape. Do not dry the garment in the sun as this can cause discolouration, especially in lighter colours.  If any pilling remains after washing, it can be removed with a de-pilling comb.  Gently brush the item over the pilled area.  A light pressing with a steam iron set on the lowest setting, using a pressing cloth as the final step should remove creases that may have formed during the drying process leaving your garment in perfect condition for wear or storage.

Care for your cashmere correctly and it will get even softer over time and give you many years of wear.