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A Guide to Washing Cashmere, Wool, Silk, and Other Luxury Fabrics

Expert advice from Heritage Park Laundry

Investing in luxury fabric for both your clothing and home linens is a wonderful idea. With proper care, these high-quality items -- whether a silk garment, heirloom cotton coverlet, or cashmere throw blanket -- will look beautiful and perform well for years to come. But knowing how to clean and care for these fine fabrics can be a bit confusing.

At Heritage Park Laundry, we can help clear things up. Happily, many modern luxury fabrics no longer require dry cleaning. Check the care label and you may discover that a hand wash or gentle machine wash is all that is required for your silk, wool, cashmere, and cotton garments and linens.

Read on to learn some simple washing instructions for hand- and machine washing your laundered luxuries.

Choose the Right Detergent

When it comes to caring for fine or delicate fabric, choosing the proper detergent is an absolute must. Commercial grocery store detergents contain harsh chemicals and cleaning agents that can damage fine fabric; on the other hand, many “gentle” detergents don’t effectively remove dirt and stains. You should choose a pH neutral, mild detergent made specifically to care for fine fabrics while getting them clean, like Heritage Park All-Purpose Luxury Laundry Detergent. Specially formulated to clean and protect linen, cotton fabric, blends, and even synthetic fabric like rayon and polyester, this concentrated detergent contains just ten simple plant-based ingredients, including a proprietary enzyme blend. These enzymes work together to break down the individual compounds that make up stains, including proteins, starches, and lipids. The Heritage Park All-Purpose Laundry Detergent can also be used to pre-treat or pre-soak prior to washing, which allows the enzymes more time to break down a stain. Learn more about enzymes in laundry detergent here.

Choose a detergent specially formulated for washing silk, wool, and cashmere

For washing silk, wool, cashmere and other protein-based fabrics, however, you should choose a gentle detergent made without enzymes, such as Heritage Park Luxury Silk and Wool Detergent. Why skip the enzymes when washing some fabrics? The answer is simple: enzymes are made to break down proteins. Silk, wool, cashmere, etc. are made from fibers that come from animals and are protein-based fabrics. Over time, enzymes will degrade the quality of the fabric. Our luxury silk and wool detergent is made with powerful plant-based ingredients that get these protein-based fabrics clean without harming the integrity of the natural fiber.

How to Wash Wool and Cashmere

It’s wonderful to learn that you don’t need to dry clean your favorite wool sweater or cashmere blanket. Washing wool, cashmere, and other natural fabric can be quite simple. Once more, we remind you to read and follow the care label directions and use a non-enzyme based detergent to wash cashmere and wool fabric, both of which are protein based. We recommend Heritage Park Luxury Silk and Wool Detergent.

  1. Wash a wool or cashmere-only load. Sort by color and bulkiness.
  2. Turn items inside out if possible and use mesh laundry bags to protect them from damage inside the machine.
  3. Don’t overload your machine. Two sweaters or one wool or cashmere throw is enough for a load.
  4. Choose a delicate/wool cycle with cool or lukewarm water. If the item is not clean, run the load again.
  5. If hand washing, fill the tub with cool or lukewarm water; add and dissolve detergent; place inside-out items in water and swish for 30 seconds. Soak for ten minutes maximum.
  6. Do NOT wring dry. Blot with a clean white towel if needed to absorb water. You can also remove some water by laying the item on a clean, dry towel and rolling it up tightly.
  7. Dry flat out of direct sunlight. NEVER put wool or cashmere in the dryer.

How to Wash Wool and Cashmere in 7 easy steps

How to wash luxury fabrics including cotton bedding, towels, and clothing

Before you begin, always read and follow the directions on the care label. Take note of the various symbols and learn their meanings (view our guide to common laundry symbols). And be sure to use a gentle, pH neutral detergent made for luxury fabric like Heritage Park All-Purpose Luxury Laundry Detergent.

  1. Separate clothes and linens into light and dark piles. You can also sort items by weight so that bulky items of similar color (like towels) are washed together.
  2. Don’t launder fine linen with items containing polyester; items made of heavy materials; or items with rivets, buttons, zippers, or other adornments. These can damage fibers and fabric.
  3. Pre-treat stains with detergent or an enzyme-based stain remover prior to washing.
  4. Don’t overload the machine which can damage fine fabrics and not allow the items to move freely enough, therefore preventing the water and soap from reaching all areas of the fabric.
  5. Use a gentle cycle with a cold-water rinse. Don’t pour detergent onto fabric; use a dispenser or add it to the water as the tub fills.
  6. If you are hand washing, fill a tub with warm or cool water; add the detergent and mix with your hand; add item(s) and gently swish for a minute. Let soak no more than five minutes and thoroughly rinse. Do not wring dry.
  7. Shake out items (especially towels, sheets and duvet covers) before you put them in the dryer. You can dry cotton, bamboo and microfiber items on a line in soft outdoor sunlight, which is gentle on fabric and provides natural “bleaching.” If you’re using a dryer, set to lowest heat and increase time/heat as needed so as not to damage the fabric. Using wool dryer balls can speed drying time while softening and fluffing fabric.

How to Wash Silk Sheets and Washable Silk Clothing

We’ll say it again: read the label and follow the instructions! You will absolutely find that washable silk clothing and bedding can be easy to wash with just a bit of extra care. Make sure you are using a non-enzyme, gentle detergent made for protein-based fabric like Heritage Park Luxury Silk and Wool Detergent.

  1. Wash a silk only load. Silk clothes and silk bedding should be laundered separately from all other items.
  2. When possible (as with a silk pillowcase) turn your silk item inside out and put it in a zippered mesh bag to protect them from damage and snags inside the washing machine.
  3. Pre-treat stains (note: you may be able to use an enzyme-based detergent on an occasional basis to pre-treat stains without causing damage to fabric. This should be a rare exception. Test first on an inconspicuous area.)
  4. Use a silk/delicate cycle with cool water wash and rinse.
  5. If you’re going to hand wash, fill a bucket or utility sink with cool water; add detergent and dissolve with your hand; add silk items (inside out when possible) and swish for 30 seconds. Let soak no more than five minutes and rinse thoroughly, do not wring.
  6. Don’t put silk in the dryer as heat can damage the delicate silk fiber. Hang dry indoors or outside AWAY from direct sunlight as silk fabric is prone to fading.

A Final Care Note

Here at Heritage Park Laundry Essentials, we recommend avoiding fabric softener and dryer sheets no matter what you are washing. These chemical-based items leave a build-up on your clothes, linen, and dryer that damages fabric. Instead, soften cotton sheets and towels with non-toxic, effective wool dryer balls.

Lastly, save the chlorine bleach for cleaning your bathroom! Bleach is a harsh chemical that should not be used on luxury fabric; it causes colored fabrics to fade and turns white fabrics yellow over time. If you need to bleach, we recommend oxygen bleach powder which is gentler on fabric. We do not suggest using any type of bleach on silk or wool.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this brief overview of how to wash your luxury fabrics. You can learn much more about our products as well as strategies, tips, and suggestions for laundry care by reading our blog. Please feel free to contact us at 800-977-1841 with questions about our products or laundry in general. We’d love to hear from you.

Heritage Park Laundry Essentials

At Heritage Park, caring for fine fabric is our passion. As lifelong collectors of luxury sheets, towels, and cloths, we found many commercially available "gentle detergents" either damaged our fabrics or didn't get the job done, leaving stains. We knew we could do better. So we developed a formula with the perfect balance of powerful -- yet safe -- ingredients designed to remove tough, set-in stains while remaining gentle on luxury linens. Please connect with us at (800) 977-1841 or visit our store or email us with any product feedback or cleaning questions.

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