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Do cashmere sweaters pill? Why do they pill? How to avoid?

Wearing a cashmere sweater with fashion outfit

Cashmere is super fancy stuff. It’s found in the finest clothing items at all the high-end stores. It’s considered to be a luxury material because it’s soft and strong and beautiful. So you spend a bunch of money on a fancy cashmere sweater. And then the darn thing pills just like the much less expensive sheep’s wool. Do cashmere sweaters pill? Why do they pill? Is this just your bad luck, improper washing, a curse of the fashion gods? Isn’t cashmere supposed to be perfect?

The Cost of Cashmere

Close up of cashmere sweaters

Cashmere is one of the most expensive materials you could buy when it comes to clothing and accessories. It comes only from a certain type of goat in a certain region of the world, so that means this has to be really pricey material…even if, when you get right down to it, cashmere is really just goat hair. But when you pay this much for a type of wool, you pretty much expect that material to be perfect and look perfect.

Questions About Cashmere

Wearing a cashmere turtleneck sweater outside

So when cashmere sweaters pill, it’s hugely disappointing. Is this your fault? Did you do something wrong? Is there a problem with the way you’re storing it? The way you’re washing it? Something about the environment in your house? Should cashmere be wrapped in silk when you’re not wearing it, or something? Who the heck even knows what you’re supposed to do with luxury fabrics!

There’s a lot to know about caring for cashmere but once you do, you’ll always know how to keep this luxury material looking perfect. It’s time to take the stress out of owning this luxury material.

When Cashmere Sweaters Pill

LILLUSORY Women's Sweaters Black Turtleneck Mock Oversized Cashmere 2022 Fall Pullover Long Batwing Chuky Tunic Clearance Knit Tops

Does cashmere pill? Yes. It’s a type of wool and like any wool, it will pill. What is pilling? This means that tiny little fuzzy balls form on the material. This is caused by the tangling of surface hairs on the cashmere. Lower-quality cashmere is more prone to pilling than the highest-quality cashmere, Grade A cashmere. However, all cashmere and all wool is capable of pilling and at some point, probably will pill.

Pilling can occur when another material rubs against your cashmere. For example, you wear a leather jacket with a cotton lining on top of your cashmere sweater. The abrasion can cause pills to form. Pilling also occurs simply from wearing cashmere, so you aren’t doing anything wrong if pills form on this material.

Prevent Pilling

LUIZA VERA 100% Merino Wool Sweater for Women Fall Winter Pullover Warm Thicken Cashmere Turtleneck Knitted Long Sleeve (Rust Red,M)

All cashmere can pill. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to. You can prevent cashmere pilling with constant care and maintenance. The best way to keep cashmere from pilling is by washing it regularly. This will cause the hairs on the cashmere to detangle and smooth out, which keeps pills from forming.

How to Deal with Cashmere Pilling

Women's 100% Pure Cashmere Sweater Crewneck Sweater Long Sleeve Pullover for Women (Large, Camel-White)

You can’t always prevent pills, so what do you do when your cashmere sweater does pill? Gently remove pills by hand, lifting them off slowly. Then, wash your cashmere because pills are an indication that the material needs to be washed. Don’t ever use scissors, razors or a sharp object to remove pills. Use only your fingers and then wash cashmere normally.

You can also use a cashmere comb, a fine-tooth comb that you can use to gently comb the surface of the cashmere.

How to Wash Cashmere

Goodthreads Men's Lightweight Merino Wool Quarter-Zip Sweater, Charcoal, Large

Cashmere should be hand-washed. Turn your sweater inside-out and then dip it into lukewarm water mixed with mild detergent. Baby shampoo actually works extremely well. Gently dip the wool in the soapy water to remove debris and odors from the material. Do not twist or pull the fabric. If needed to remove dirt, you can gently rub the cashmere with the soapy water but use an extremely gentle touch and do not pull or tug the material.

Rinse the material thoroughly and lay it flat on a towel. Press gently with a second towel to remove moisture. Do not wring the cashmere. Lay the sweater out on a dry towel to allow it to dry flat. Do not remove pills from wet fabric. Wait until the cashmere is dry.

Fold cashmere to store it and place it between two sheets of paper. Tissue paper is best. This will prevent other items from rubbing against the material and creating pills.

Cashmere should be washed after every five times you wear it. This will keep the surface smooth and prevent pilling.

Do Cashmere Sweaters Pill?

Though cashmere has a reputation for being one of the fanciest wools, it will absolutely pill. Taking good care of cashmere by washing it frequently and storing it properly will prevent pills but they’ll never go away entirely. When they form, pick them off and keep going. Even the prettiest and most expensive stuff is never perfect…and that’s really the story of fashion. But it’s in the little imperfections that you’ll often find your own personal style, so it’s all part of the fun.


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