As the weather warms up, thoughts turn to packing away our winter wardrobe - but how best to store our much-loved cashmere and keep the munching moths away?
BY BIBBY SOWRAY | 07 MARCH 2014
This weekend, much of the Britain will enjoy unseasonably warm temperatures. As such, we're starting to think about packing away our winter warmers and bringing our spring-appropriate pieces out of hibernation.
A relatively thought-free task, you may think. But it's not - not when cashmere is in the packing-away equation. If you want your favourite jumper to be in tip-top condition when you reacquaint yourself with it next autumn, you need to ensure that you're giving your cashmere the required TLC when it comes to preparing it for storage and packing it away.
If, like us, you avoid washing your cashmere wherever possible - i.e. spot-cleaning instead - now is the time to change. Before you send it to the drawer of sleeping clothes, it's best to give it a thorough cleanse. Even if it doesn't look dirty, the tiniest traces of food, skin and hair particles or sweat can still attract clothes moths.
Stating the obvious, cashmere needs to be washed by hand - unless you have a hand-wash setting on your machine or don't mind forking out for dry cleaning (moths hate the smell of dry-celaning fluid so this, if you want to spend the money, is a good option before storage). If you're going down the DIY route then there are some simple steps to follow:
· Wash in a clean sink, ensuring there is no food or cleaning product residue that could stain/harm your cashmere. The best way is to use a brand new plastic wash basin or even a large, clean mixing bowl.
· Make sure the water is no hotter than lukewarm.
· Use a small amount of gentle detergent, whether it's one specially-made for cashmere (find our all-natural favourite here) or even a very gentle baby shampoo, and ensure it's fully dissolved in the water before you begin washing. Julia Dee, founder of storage and clothing care emporium totalwardrobecare.co.uk andthewardrobecurator.co.uk, even suggests following with your hair conditioner to make your cashmere super soft.
· Turn inside out. Don't rub, wring or twist the fabric while washing, instead just gently squeeze the water through the fibre.
· When rinsing, use the same temperature water as you used to wash.
The same goes for drying: be gentle, and definitely do not tumble dry:
· Don't wring or twist to remove excess water, instead lay the item out on a towel, gently roll up (like a sausage roll) and lightly press. Unroll and reshape by hand.
· Leave it to dry laid flat - if you hang it, the weight of the water will stretch it out of shape.
· Keep it away from heat sources like radiators and sunlight, allowing it to air-dry naturally.
Before you pack away, give your cashmere an MOT. De-pill and de-crease so that when next winter comes, it looks as good as new.
It's likely that any well-worn item of cashmere will have fallen victim to pilling. This "is not symptomatic of inferior quality, but rather an inevitable consequence of the careful processing of this fine fibre," says Rosie Sugden, creator of her own eponymous line of cashmere accessories. Said pilling can easily be removed using de-bobbling comb - like this one - or even a standard razor, though you need to be verycareful not to cut the fabric if doing so.
"You will find that, removing the pills in this way, the garment will actually consolidate and soften in handle and touch. Like fine wine, cashmere will improve with age if cared for properly, and will last for years," adds Sugden.
To de-crease, iron inside-out on the lowest heat setting using a damp cloth between the cashmere and the iron, keeping it moving. Or, if you can, steam it using a hand-held steamer.
Julia Dee has some more handy tips for keeping your cashmere looking fresh. "Don't wear the same garment too frequently," she advises. "Allow it two or three days rest after a day of wearing." Similarly, you should be mindful about what you wear your cashmere with. "A cashmere garment next to rough clothing, metal necklaces, bracelets, belts and rough leather items such as crocodile leather bags is a recipe for pilling and snagging," she says.
Here is Julia's expert advice for cashmere storage perfection:
1. Do some house keeping. Any storage area - whether it's a cupboard, under the bed, top of the wardrobe - needs to be hoovered, dusted and wiped down first, to ensure it's completely clean and damp-free.
2. Declare war on moths. If your chosen storage place is a shelf or drawer, line it with fragranced anti-moth paper. If it's a wardrobe, invest in some cedar balls or scented sachets - there are a whole load of options here - to keep the creepies at bay. I'd also recommend popping one or two sachets amongst your knits - and don't forget to replace any old ones, they loose their strength after a season.
3. Do not use cardboard boxes to store your cashmere in - they are not pH neutral so the chemicals in the fabric could react with the acid or alkaline in the boxes (brown cardboard boxes are very alkaline). We have a great breathable bag that is 10cm deep and can store around five knits. It has a breathable top and bottom and has a clear plastic wide band so you can see what's inside. And it's moth proof!
4. Similarly, don't leave garments in plastic bags for more than three months because of the change in temperature - central heating going on and off causes condensation in the bags, which dries on the garments and can cause mildew or yellowing on light colours.
5. If you can, wrap your cashmere in acid-free tissue paper, which preserves original colour and protects against damp and dust.
6. As a general rule, any stored clothes need to be kept well-aired, dust free and covered, away from sunlight. Nothing should be left in direct sunlight as sunlight rots fabrics.
If you already have moths…
"You really need to do the big clear out," says Julia. "We recommend a moth trap in every room as a good way to monitor if you have a problem - it's a sticky pheromone trap that kills the male moths and leaves the females flying around with no eggs to lay."
Another tip is to freeze you cashmere. "This may sound to be a strange route but has been proven to work," says Rosie Sugden. "Simply put them in a plastic bag and freeze for a day or overnight. Then defrost them slowly and this should kill anything, including moths and moth larvae."
"The lifecycle of a moth is about 21 days," adds Sugden, "so every month it is a good idea to give your cashmere a good shake out. The moths hate being disturbed and don't like the light, so if you suspect that you have moths it may also be a good idea to air your garments briefly in day-light as the larvae are repelled by this and will drop off your clothing if there are any."
Full Article: http://fashion.telegraph.co.uk/columns/bibby-sowray/TMG10681063/How-to-care-for-and-store-your-cashmere.html