How to Care for Delicate Knitwear: Wool, Cashmere, and Mohair

Learn the proper care and handling for delicate luxury knitwear including cashmere, wool, mohair and more.

February 8, 2024
min read
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From coveted cashmere sweaters to heirloom mohair shawls, delicate knits impart timeless luxury to any wardrobe. But their refined nature derived from fine animal hair or softened wools also makes them more vulnerable to damage over time if cared for improperly. Learning what causes pills, holes, and shrinkage then modifying care habits protects precious knits.

This guide covers fundamental handling, washing, storage, and repair principles tailored for fragile fabrics like merino wool, cashmere, alpaca, angora, and mohair yarns mastering their care delicately.

Common Issues with Delicate Knits

Understanding inherent weaknesses in luxe knitwear’s sensitive construction is step one toward prevention. Analyze what underlying factors create these nagging issues to mitigate their frequency and severity through informed action.


Long fiber hairs cling together forming fuzzy bunches on the fabric surface from abrasion during wears or washes. Agitation actions especially exacerbate pilling like backpack straps or seatbelts constantly rubbing. Though harmless and purely cosmetic, removing unsightly pills without damaging knits further proves tricky.


The fibers’ scaled exterior allow them to irreversibly felt and shrink becoming shorter and tighter. Friction and heat whether from high temperature washes or tumble drying relaxes fibers morphing the fabric’s dimensions despite careful labeling adherence.

Moth Damage

Protein rich wool and specialty hairs appeal irresistibly to clothes moths who feast chewing through prized pieces with larvae tunneling internally unseen until emergence holes appear. Infestations spread rapidly across stored collections once established if not contained early.

While delicate, knits aren’t indestructible. But forewarned means forearmed equipping us to handle them informed minimizing harm through preventative action.

Proper Washing Methods

Start knitwear’s care journey right delicately cleansing soiled pieces without distorting their shape or accelerating wear mechanisms prematurely through improper washing. Follow fiber-specific guidelines suitable for the yarn blend.

Water Temperature

Use only cold water avoiding any heat which shocks cashmere and relaxes wool fibers. Lukewarm settings might suit some hardy blends, but err on the cool side testing small swatch shrinkage first whenever attempting new cleaning methods.

Handwashing Techniques

Fully submerge pieces in mesh garment bags protecting during gentle squeezes lifting out then rinsing detergent without disturbing knit structures. Shape flat while drying only reversing initial bag compression.

Blocking and Drying

Pin stretched knits measuring garment’s original dimensions on towel surface until almost dry then reshape knit patterns by hand gently before hanging to fully air dry avoiding direct heat damaging wool and removing necessary lanolin oils keeping them water resistant.


Storing Knits Properly

Preserving clean knits in pristine condition between wears involves maintaining ideal storage conditions and handling practices minimizing textile disturbances.

Folding vs Hanging Debate

Either folding loosely on shelves or hanging freely both keep knits decompressed. Hanging prevents distortion on folders edges over time but risks stretching certain constructs. Fold seam-side out stacked evenly distributing weight changes.

Tissue and Garment Bags

Acid-free archival tissue paper between layers prevents snagging while breathable garment bags protect from dust accumulation without trapping moisture promoting moth eggs hatching if existing infestations occur. Inspect regularly for problems.

The Benefits of Cedar Wood

Its signature aroma naturally repels moths without need for pungent chemical mothballs making cedar lined armoires safe havens for offseason fine knitwear. Cedar lined chests or whole closet builds maximize this traditional protective element with sustained potency over decades. Its lightweight wood construction resists crushing stored contents as well unlike plastic bins sagging over time. Sustainably sourced cedar offers chemical-free and eco-friendly moth prevention protection.

Repairing Snags and Holes

Even with diligent care, occasional damage emerges on well-loved knits. Address issues immediately stopping small problems from expanding into irreparable destruction.

Stopping Runs and Unraveling

Paint clear nail polish or touch craft glue on errant snipped yarn ends sticking out from holes halting the run in its tracks. For larger moth nibbles or tears, stabilizer fabric pieces beneath prevents furtherraveling while secured by stitches around tear edges.

Mending Strategies

Close holes by blanket stitch sewing scrap knit patches matching original piece color and textures behind tears for near invisible fixes. Or embrace tradition reminiscent of hand knit items’ beginnings darning by hand weaving contrasting yarn whimsically patching damages. Crochet overlay motifs applied on top lends charming texture too.

Caring for Specific Delicate Knits

While fundamental knitwear care principles generally apply across various fibers, individual materials have unique properties demanding tailored handling. Adapt broad guidelines accounting for their special needs.

Merino Wool Considerations

Premium Merino wool’s softness comes courtesy scratchy outer fuzzy scales removed exposing ultrafine strands underneath. But minus scratchy external protection, smooth merino fibers interlock and pill faster through regular activities. Handle gently keeping friction contact points layered underneath protective coverings.

Cashmere Care Tips

Known as the diamond fibers for their rarity and brilliance preserving luster, cashmere’s downy soft refinement requires cautious care. Its long fine hairs pill excessively if washed after every wear. Instead spot treat gently brushed by cashmere glove insert removing debris between professional deep cleanings.

Mohair Characteristics and Concerns

Valued for luminous halo and loft properties, mohair possesses exceptional elasticity retaining shape after stretching. But consistent compression folds the same creases weakening over time risking tears. Rotate storage orientation periodically to alleviate sustained weight strains. Its low friction surface attracts more lint and dust than sheep wool. Briskly brush piles away between wears.

Conclusion and Final Takeaways

Caring for delicate luxury knitwear relies on embracing their extra gentle natures - handling with care while understanding unique weaknesses inbred by breed or manufacture. By adapting practices catering to specific fibers’ needs, preserve precious pieces maintaining their integrity over decades enhancing any wardrobe. Use these core principles protecting fine knits:

✓ Wash using proper cool temperatures in mesh garment bags

✓ Allow flat drying pinned to measurements overhanging

✓ Fold loosely stacked with acid-free tissue layers

✓ Mend any snags immediately to prevent enlargement

✓ Keep offseason knits in cedar chests preventing moth damage

✓ Research and follow recommendations for each knit fiber type

Treat delicate knits their due gentle reverence taking a little extra care preserving their cashmere softness, merino fineness, and mohair halo brilliance sustaining beloved items far into the future. Show luxurious fabrics you value their uniqueness through informed handling measures tailored exactly for their needs.

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Our mission is to empower you with the knowledge to curate a wardrobe that not only reflects your personal style but also aligns with environmentally friendly practices. From exploring the wonders of natural mothballs and sustainable garment storage to diving deep into DIY solutions and green living, we're here to guide you on a journey towards a more eco-conscious, stylish, and intentional lifestyle.

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