ode boutique

ASK ALISON: Cashmere Care

March 11, 2017

How do I clean food stains off of a cashmere sweater?

Most important is to get the stain while it is fresh--we're all busy and think we will get around to that stain later! But leaving a stain to set leads to stubborn stain removal. Plus, do you remember what you've spilled over your favorite cashmere sweater?

My favourite cleaning supply and most trusty stain removal product by far is Dawn dish soap.  Dawn gets out most of the stains I've ever dealt with and it's incredibly gentle, which is key for delicate items.  There are a few other products I would use depending on the stain, but we will leave that for another time, another blog post.  

First, I use a spoon (not a knife as you may have heard as this could cause fabric damage) to scrape off any excess food.  Once you've got the solid food off if there was any, take your sweater to the sink and place your hand under the stain.  Run cold water over the stain continuously for about 5 minutes.  Don't rub or dab, just keep rinsing with the water.  This should get most or all of the stain out, but if it doesn't, the next step is to place a clean white washcloth under your stain.  Apply a small dab of Dawn over the stain and allow to sit for 10 minutes.  Now back to the sink!  Using the same process, rinse out all of the soap until there are no more suds.  I hope by then your stain is gone!  

If it's still there and being stubborn, another great way to budge it is to get an additional clean white washcloth. With the original cloth still underneath the stain, reapply a small dab of soap over the stain, this time dabbing up and down with the other cloth.  Do not rub!  Now another trip to the sink, repeating the process all over again of rinsing the soap until no suds are left.  I'd say that 95% of the time your stain will be gone and you can wash your item as usual.  If you see any residual stain, don't wash! Start the process over one more time but this time allowing the Dawn to soak overnight.  This usually guarantees the stain is gone. Then, of course, rinse again.


Do you have tips for moth prevention?

I do! We all go crazy if we see moths fluttering around our closet! While the adult moth is the culpit for our holes in our beloved cashmere, it's their larvae (catapillers) that cause the damage. With some research, I've found, if we freeze our cashmere it kills the moth eggs and prevents damage! While doing our washing and spot cleaning of our cashmere in prep for storage we should looks for signs of eggs or holes. A good wool shop should usually provide hole repair, but the can't stop further damage if we had a moth lay some eggs! So this is what I do:

You need extra extra large ziplock bags and a few spare shelves in your freezer. After your sweaters are clean and holes repaired, fold neatly 2/3 sweaters per bag, and then place them in another bag (I always double bag). Place them in your freezer. I always keep them separate from food. Now let them sit for at least a week if not longer ( Our new age freezers don't stay at temperature that will kill larvae in just few hours or day, so be patient! ) I find I don't have room to do all my sweaters at once, so I do in batches. Happy freezing!

What's the best way to store my cashmere after winter?

First and most importantly, clean your cashmere before you store.  Wash as you normally would, making sure your items are totally dry before you begin. I freeze my sweaters first too (see above for how-to).

You need three key items that you can always get at most stores:

- Extra extra large Ziplock bags
- Rubbermaid containers (with a solid seal)
- Cedar balls or blocks

Fold your cleaned sweaters and, depending on the size of the Ziplock bag, place 3-5 items in each bag. Make sure you get as much air out of the bag as you can and seal it quickly.  Place bags into the Rubbermaid containers.  Now toss in a few cedar balls or blocks.  I love that the Ziplock bags not only keep out all the nasty things that could damage your cashmere, but also keep the cedar from adding stains whilst in storage. Now close the lid, store, and enjoy the new season ahead!


Have questions about clothes, plants, animals, life, or anything at all? Send them to me at Alison@odeboutique.com. I'll see what I can do!