Dry Cleaning vs Hand washing

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by robgillon, Oct 11, 2006.

  1. robgillon

    robgillon Member

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    I recently bought a deep red cashmere Hermes sweater / cardigan, and on the washing instructions, it (unsurprisingly) says dry clean only. I had heard before that the best way to wash cashmere is handwash in the bathtub with the same shampoo and conditioner you use on your hair, as afterall, it is essentially just hair itself.

    The thing is, I wouldn't want to trust anyone else to clean it for a number of reasons - the price, it's colour and the fact that I love it so much! So my question is, when it comes time to clean it, what shall I do? Should I wash it myself like I described, or should I bite the bullet and go get it dry cleaned?

    Thanks for the advice!
     
  2. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Suitsupply-sider

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    This can be tricky. Most cashmere sweaters I have cleaned by hand work well...I use Woolite. But it may be best to follow the mfrs directions to be extra safe.
     
  3. texas_jack

    texas_jack Senior member

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    Woolite is dishsoap. Or so says my mother.
     
  4. mack11211

    mack11211 Senior member

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    Dry cleaning is a chem treatment that is ultimately harsh to wool, esp soft wool as in sweaters. And it doesn't get the sweat out.

    On the other hand, hand washing will leach out a bit of the color in your case, since the sweater is a deep red.

    I would suggest a brief but thorough handwashing. Don't leave it to soak or you will lose even more color, and don't dry it on or near any fabric that you don't mind getting reddened.
     
  5. pejsek

    pejsek Senior member

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    There's no reason to dry clean a sweater. Manufacturers just suggest this because they are afraid people will throw things like your sweater in the wash along with everything else and then into the dryer--which would indeed be a disaster. I have many old Scottish cashmere sweaters and I wash them all. I have a front loading washer with a very gentle cycle and usually wash the sweaters individually with a bit of mild detergent. mack is right to raise concerns about color, but if you wash in cold water and not too frequently it shouldn't be an issue; over a great deal of time the color may mellow, but that's probably just desireable and to be expected (it's called character; think of the patina on a venerable old pair of shoes). After washing I hang the sweaters on a line right under the arms so there's not too much pulling. The more fastidious, of course, will dry flat. For best results, wait until the sweater is almost dry and then throw it in a barely warm dryer for 4-5 minutes. Something about the tumbling of an almost dry sweater with mild heat gives the perfect finish. I learned about the tumbling trick from a high-end cashmere maker whose name I've forgotten.
    Anyway, the trick with washing is just to basically treat the sweater nicely. If you have a harsh washing machine, just wash it by hand. Even under the very best of circumstances, dry cleaning is a nasty process that does nothing good for your clothes.
    Sounds like a great sweater. Don't be afraid to throw it in the water!
     
  6. Hanseat

    Hanseat Senior member

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    I've read in the instructions for a nice sweater that you shouldn't actually 'handwash' a 'handwash' item. Instead you should put it in the washing machine, put it on the handwash-program and let this do the work. It said this would control the temperature more precise than you can with your hand.
    That's what I've always done and fared well with that.
     
  7. Ivan Kipling

    Ivan Kipling Senior member

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    You could be between a rock and a hard place. I've had bad luck cleaning cashmere, and bad luck, washing cashmere. With deep red, I'm afraid you'll get some unwanted fading . . . you might be better off with a reputable cleaner. OR, if it's not really dirty, air out the sweater, on a nice chilly day . . .
     
  8. minimal

    minimal Senior member

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    If it's possible, I'd use one of the two newer methods for cleaning, "greenearth" or CO2.

    I've used the former, and it is amazing: my clothes are much cleaner than they got with dry cleaning, there is zero shrinkage, and no dry-cleaning or chemical odor. My cashmere sweaters, in particular, come back in great condition.

    I've never used the CO2 method, but I've heard good things about it.

    You can find cleaners that use these methods by web search...

    Good luck.
     
  9. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Suitsupply-sider

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    There is another choice. I have had good look with Dryel home dry cleaning.
     
  10. stach

    stach Senior member

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    I like Dryel too, but it only goes so far. Eventually you have to really wash/clean the garment.
     
  11. acidboy

    acidboy Senior member

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    how about using a gentle body soap instead?
     
  12. kitonbrioni

    kitonbrioni Senior member

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    I only do cashmere and wool sweater by the delicate cycle on the washer and the delicate low heat cycle on the dryer.
     
  13. teddieriley

    teddieriley Senior member

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    Wait, you smell that?
    I only do cashmere and wool sweater by the delicate cycle on the washer and the delicate low heat cycle on the dryer.
    Really? I thought one wasn't suppose to throw a wool or cashmere sweater in the dryer, even if it is the low heat cycle. Fluff only maybe, but wouldn't even the tumbling tend to damage the sweater? I thought the lay it on the towel and roll it like a burrito was the preferred method for drying?
     
  14. luk-cha

    luk-cha Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    i would just take it to the dry cleaner "safety first"
     
  15. robgillon

    robgillon Member

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    Thanks for the replies, as I thought, most people seem to be against taking it to the dry cleaners - I really see dry cleaning as more for suits and coats personally.

    The advice about just hanging it up on a chilly day was good, as it definately will never be the bottom layer of clothing I wear, and it may not even be the top layer so just occasional airing will be necessary, not a full wash. When it does come time to wash it, though, I believe I will try the cold / warmish water gentle handwash and flat dry burrito roll drying method!

    I looked into the greenearth method, and I was surprised to see that it does exist in the UK, unfortunately the closest one is 22 miles away but I guess that's not that bad, so I may look into that a bit more closer to the time.
     

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