Cashmere tends to be considered one of the finer fabrics that men and women need in their wardrobe. It manages to keep you warm even though it is thin and lightweight, meaning that it layers well and will feel comfortable to wear. Unfortunately, even the best of cashmere can pill over time. If you are making an investment in cashmere wardrobe pieces, follow this advice to keep it looking new for as long as possible.
Know What Pilling Is
Pilling appears like small balls of fuzz that appear on woven or knitted material. It occurs when the fibers in the fabric break, causing the ends to stick out and become frizzy. It can happen on any fabric. The amount of pilling depends on the quality of the fabric and how much friction it undergoes. If the fabric is regularly treated roughly or accidentally becomes stuck on something, pilling can occur.
Purchase High-quality Cashmere
Your first step to preventing pilling is to purchase high-quality products. Although cashmere is generally considered a luxury wool, not all cashmere products are made to the same standards. It is important to know how to look for high quality cashmere when you are shopping. Most important, when shopping for an outer layer such as a poncho or scarf, is to look for a tight weave. You should be able to run your hand over the garment without snagging on loose threads. It should feel supple but strong, and it should be thick enough that you cannot see your hand through it when holding it up to the light.
Hand Wash or Dry Clean Your Cashmere
Once you have made your purchase, it is important to care for it gently. Cashmere should only be washed by hand or sent to a dry cleaner and, especially as outer wear, it does not have to be washed often. Even if you have a hand washing setting on your washing machine, you may want to simply soak your poncho in cold water with a small amount of detergent as opposed to agitating it at all. Stains should be spot cleaned.
You may also want to lanolize your cashmere poncho. This can make it slightly water resistant, increase its natural anti-microbial properties, and help to strengthen it.
Prevent Everyday Friction
To prevent pilling, you should reduce the everyday friction on your poncho. Carry handbags beneath the poncho to prevent the straps from your bag rubbing on your fabric. If you are sitting, either remove your poncho or sit with proper posture, away from the back of your seat, to prevent snagging on rough furniture. While some amount of friction is unavoidable, your goal should be to reduce repetitive friction that can slowly wear down your cashmere fibers.
Know How to Remove Pilling
If you do experience pilling, it is important to know how to remove it without causing more damage to your poncho. Common methods, such as picking at the pilling or using a lint roller, can pull the fibers of your poncho, causing them to weaken and break more. Instead, you should find a way to cut the pilling. This can be done with a sharp pair of scissors, a special sweater stone, a regular pumice stone, or a shaving razor. Whatever instrument you use, it is important to use a very slight pressure and to pull the pilling lightly away from the sweater to prevent damage to the remaining fibers.
A cashmere poncho can be a great addition to your wardrobe. However, it is only worth the cost if you know how to properly care for it and prevent pilling and other common damages that can occur.