The M Dash

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4 Ways to Ban Pilling and Keep Cashmere Fresh

Filed in: Your Closet

Even the most luxurious, high-quality merino and cashmere wool can fall victim to occasional pilling. But don’t freak out: MM’s sweaters are easy to take care of when you know what you’re doing. Here, our knitwear expert Annie Lim shares her brilliant tips.

1. Spot clean.

I once bought a white cashmere top (a bad idea, considering what a messy eater I am), and on the very first wear, I got specks of chocolate on it. I forced myself not to touch them all day; when I got home, I used cold water, the tiniest bit of mild detergent, and a Q-tip to gently rub out the stains. It worked like a charm.

Usually, spot cleaning will do the trick, but if a stain looks more severe, play it safe and go to the dry cleaner. Be sure to tell the cleaner what caused the stain—it’ll help them figure out how to attack it.

Bell Sweater // MM.LaFleur

The Bell sweater in cashmere.

2. More sweater spray, less washing.

My most important advice for wool and cashmere is to not wash it so frequently. I usually try to wear mine 4-5 times between washes or dry cleaning visits. After each wear (especially if I’ve gone to a restaurant that serves stinky but delicious food), I lightly spritz the sweater with Wool & Cashmere Spray from The Laundress, and then let the yarns rest a bit before I fold it and put it away. The spray has a great cedar smell, removes odors, and has a nontoxic formula with anti-bacterial properties.

The Anthony tunic // MM.LaFleur

The Anthony tunic in cashmere.

3. Use cold water.

When it is time to wash your sweater, always use cold water. Hot water + friction = felting/shrinking, which you obviously want to avoid.

MM’s merino wool is specially coated to minimize shrinking during the machine-washing process, but be sure to still use cold water.

For cashmere, hand-wash in cold water with a little bit of mild detergent, like the Laundress’s Wool & Cashmere shampoo. Gently squeeze the suds through the fabric without rubbing, and then rinse the garment in cool, clean water—avoid twisting or wringing. To dry, lay it smoothly on a flat rack or a towel away from direct sunlight. And please, do not ever put your cashmere in the dryer!

The Bryant Duster // MM.LaFleur

The Bryant duster in cashmere.

4. The sweater comb is wool’s best friend.

Look, all wool and cashmere are going to pill at some point. At MM, we work hard to find the most advanced techniques to reduce pilling, but there’s no way to eradicate it entirely—merino and cashmere are made of natural fibers that slough off during normal wear. And when they do, don’t stress: Just use a handy sweater comb to brush them away. Avoid being rough, but do use a bit of pressure on the garment when combing.

As you continue to remove pills between wearings, you’ll find that your sweaters actually grow softer. Like all the best things in life, wool improves over time if cared for properly.


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