How to Fix Shrinking Cashmere

Never wash cashmere in hot water to keep it from shrinking.
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While soft and luxurious, cashmere is also intimidating to wash and confusing to care for. A natural wool fiber derived from cashmere goats, garments using this fine material may be labeled hand wash, machine wash or even dry clean, and are easily stretched or shrunk with improper care. If you've accidentally taken your fine sweater from adult to child size after cleaning, don't throw in the towel. Get your shrunken apparel back into shape -- and take the fear out of caring for cashmere.

Find a piece of clothing similar in size and shape to the shrunken piece of clothing. Trace an outline of this garment onto a piece of parchment paper.

Fill a sink or tub with tepid water -- hot water easily shrinks wool. Mix 1 quart of water with 1 tablespoon of hair conditioner or baby shampoo, and add it to the sink. Place your shrunken cashmere garment in the solution, and let it soak for 10 minutes to help loosen the fibers.

Gently squeeze the water out of the sweater without wringing or stretching. Drain the water, refilling the sink with clean, tepid water, and swish the sweater to rinse. Carefully squeeze out excess water.

Place the garment on top of the parchment paper on a flat surface. Gently stretch so that the garment matches the measurements of the outline. If the item resists stretching, use a garment steamer or the steam from an iron to further loosen the fabric.

Position clean, heavy objects around the edges of the garment until it is completely dry. Try ceramic mugs or thick-bottomed drinking glasses filled with rice or dried beans.

Keep wool garments in shape after every wash. Write down the measurements of the sweater before laundering, including the length of each arm, the distance from from shoulder to shoulder and across the bottom. Hand wash with a few drops of mild detergent in tepid water. After washing, gently press out water without wringing. Roll the garment in a clean, white towel, as the dye in colored towels may transfer to the garment. Lay the garment flat to dry on a moisture-resistant surface such as mesh and away from heat or sunlight, and coax the sweater back to its prewash measurements.

  • If you found your garment was accidently shrunk after dry cleaning, return it to the dry cleaner and ask that they stretch the garment gently back to shape during the steaming process.

Hilary White is a professional writer and editor based in San Diego. White has been writing articles on fashion, style, fitness, nutrition, movies and entertainment since 1994. Her articles have been published in "Westways" magazine, "Pages" magazine, "Book Street USA," "Magill's Cinema Annual," and numerous titles from Visible Ink Press. White holds a bachelor's degree in English from Michigan State University.