How To: Hand Wash a Cashmere Sweater

As part of my ongoing effort to streamline my life, I've begun investing in (paying more for) high quality, classic clothing that will look nicer and last longer, reducing my cost-per-wear ratio. This attempt at functional adulthood means more careful upkeep to maintain my investment (splurge), and, for cashmere, that means hand washing. Here's what I do.

• Fill the sink basin with tepid water. Cold water won't clean as well and you should never use hot water on wool or you risk major shrinkage. Room temperature water is perfect.

• Swish in a small amount of gentle soap. You can find plenty of special cashmere washes, but I find natural, unscented detergent works just fine - or baby shampoo is another classic. Measure out the amount you think you need and then use half. More soap doesn't equal a cleaner sweater, and soap residue will actually attract dirt so be sparing.

• Turn your sweater inside out and submerge it, gently squeezing the soapy water through the knit. If you're washing it for the first time, don't freak out if some color is released into the water. It'll still look fine when it dries. Drain the water.

• Fill the sink again with clear water and rinse. Repeat this. Then carefully squeeze the sweater against the side of the sink until it's no longer soaking wet.

• Grab your salad spinner (making sure it's clean) and coil the sweater evenly around the basket. Give it a whirl! It's the hand-washing equivalent of the spin cycle. Never wring the water out. The fibers are most delicate when they're wet, so be more careful than you think you need to be.

• Lay the sweater flat on a clean towel and roll it up like a sausage to get the last bits of water out. Then lay it on another towel or a drying rack if you have one. I've been known to borrow from the kitchen again and use a cookie cooling rack. Block it by smoothing and shaping it, because the way it dries is the way it will stay until the next wash.

Have any tips to add for hand washing? Let us know in the comments below...

(Image: Jennifer Hunter)