Cashmere is pretty expensive stuff, as far as fabric options go. It’s a high-end material that’s found in designer clothing and cashmere is considered to be a luxury to own. As far as wools go, it’s pretty nice. Cashmere is lightweight but warm and it looks just gorgeous. But…is cashmere itchy?
Wild and Woolly
Wool can be pretty itchy and uncomfortable against skin. You probably found that out the hard way at an ugly holiday sweater party or after putting on that cute cardigan you bought on sale. Some wool causes a lot of irritation and itchiness when it rubs against bare skin. Heck, some wool can make you itch even through a thin T-shirt or undershirt.
Sheep’s wool, which is pretty common and not nearly as expensive as cashmere, is often fairly itchy. But cashmere is expensive. It’s fancy! So of course cashmere can’t be itchy. Right?
Why is Wool Itchy?
Though you probably won’t get a chance to examine wool under a microscope anytime soon, you would notice something about wool fibers if you did. Wool fibers are slightly scaly. They are not smooth. That means that they have rough edges everywhere. When wool feels itchy, it’s because those rough edges are rubbing against your skin and causing mild irritation that makes you feel itchy.
Is Cashmere Itchy?
Unlike most wool, which is made from sheep’s wool, cashmere comes from goat hair. It actually comes specifically from a certain type of goat that lives in a certain area of Asia, which is one reason cashmere is so costly. While sheep’s wool is available everywhere, cashmere can only be found in one section of Asia.
The goat hairs used to make cashmere are longer, finer and smoother than standard sheep’s wool, which is why there is a touchable difference between cashmere wool and sheep’s wool.
Because it doesn’t come from sheep, cashmere also does not contain lanolin. This is a natural substance found in sheep’s wool that is responsible for sheep’s wool allergies. Those who are allergic to sheep’s wool are actually allergic to the lanolin found in the wool. People who have allergies to wool are not allergic to cashmere for this very reason.
Cashmere is considered to be a naturally hypoallergenic material and the chances of being allergic to it are extremely small.
However…yes, cashmere can be itchy. It’s a type of wool and the fibers used to make it are still spun into yarn. The relatively short fibers are spun into long, long spools of yarn that are actually made up of many, many hairs. The edges of those hairs can rub against your skin.
And even if you could only hope to see them microscopically, your skin is still sensitive enough to feel those rough edges from time to time. So even as expensive as it is and despite how fancy it is, cashmere can absolutely feel itchy on your skin.
Preventing the Itch
Because cashmere can feel itchy and because it’s such a costly material, you should always wear something under your cashmere rather than wearing it against your bare skin. This will protect your sensitive skin from any itchy feeling and it protects the cashmere from sweat, skin cells and the general dirt associated with being a human. You’ll keep grime off the cashmere and keep the cashmere off your skin and really, it’s a winning situation all around.
What Type of Cashmere Do You Wear?
However, there are ways to make cashmere feel less itchy and there are different grades of cashmere. If your cashmere feels almost as itchy as sheep’s wool, you may have grade C cashmere. This is the lowest-quality cashmere, made from shorter and coarser goat hairs than grade A. This, of course, is the highest grade of cashmere and it is made with only the longest and finest goat hairs. Grade A is the least itchy type of cashmere.
But no wool is free completely from the itch, no matter how fancy or expensive. And if you feel that your cashmere is itchier than it ought to be, there is a way you can reduce the itch.
Washing Away the Itchiness
Fill a large bucket with cold water and add two tablespoons of white vinegar. Mix the solution to blend the vinegar into the water. Turn your cashmere item inside out and soak it in the water. The garment must soak fully in the water, so add an item on top of the cashmere if needed to keep it in the water rather than floating up.
Simply allow the garment to soak. You don’t need to stir it up or excite the water. Just let the cashmere soak for about 15 minutes and then rinse it thoroughly under cold water. Use a gentle stream of water to rinse the wool. Wool damages easily when it’s wet.
Roll the cashmere in a towel to remove water but do not squeeze or twist. Lay the item out flat on a dry towel to air dry. The vinegar treatment should clean the cashmere and soften the fibers so that the garment feels less itchy overall.
Conditioning the Cashmere
When you want to soften the hair on your head, you use conditioner. So it stands to reason that you can use conditioner to soften up the goat hair used for cashmere. If your cashmere is super itchy even after you wash it, condition it.
Wash your cashmere and let it dry to the point of dampness. It should not be wet but it should not be fully dry.
Squeeze about a third of a cup’s worth of conditioner onto your palm. The conditioner should contain no silicones or sulfates. Gently, very gently, work the conditioner across the garment. Be sure to treat the inside of the garment, the part that touches your skin.
Let the conditioner rest for 30 minutes after you’re done applying it. Do not let this linger, as you don’t want the garment to dry out while the conditioner is still on it.
Rinse the cashmere thoroughly in cold water, removing all the conditioner. If you don’t rinse away the conditioner, the cashmere will have an unpleasant residue on it.
Gently pat down the cashmere with a towel to remove moisture and let it air dry. Once it’s dry, the cashmere should be much softer and smoother overall after the conditioning treatment.
The Cashmere Itch
Is cashmere itchy? Yes, it can be at times. But there are things you can do to avoid itchy cashmere and you should be wearing something under the material anyway. Take care of your cashmere, wear it well and itch won’t be a problem. Just remember that even in the most high-end materials and in designer fashion, discomfort and irritation and itch is still possible. It’s true when they say that money doesn’t buy everything!
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