I've recently purchased new cashmere sweaters. To my dismay, after only one or two washes, the sweaters shrunk and are now too small and no longer fit.

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How can I prevent cashmere sweaters from shrinking in the wash in the first place? I washed the sweaters in cold water and did not put them in the dryer, yet they still shrunk.


Now that I have too small sweaters, is there a way to re-stretch the sweaters and get them back to a fitting size? I've tried just pulling on the edges, yet this does not stretch it enough. I've tried doing this as soon as they come out of the wash and are still wet as well, yet that doesn't seem to make a difference.


2 Answers 2


To prevent shrinking you need to wash it in cold water and move it as little as possible until it's completely dry.

Any wool, merino or cashmere is made of animal hair. Hair is a long string of keratin that is covered by microscopic scales. In water (especially in warm water) the keratin bloats and the scales open up, making the surface of the hair rougher. If you move, wring and tumble a lot of wet hairs, their scales catch and lock together and you end up with felt. It also shrinks the fabric because the hairs pull each other closer together.

So the best thing for a garment of pure cashmere is to hand wash it. Put it in a sink, big bowl or tub of cold water with some detergent. Instead of moving it around, push it down with your hands repeatedly. Drain the detergent water and fill in fresh cold water. Again, press the garment down without moving it around too much. Repeat the rinsing until the water is clear. Dry the garment laying flat over a towel.

Most washing machines have a cold wash program, but they agitate too much for delicate clothes. You should only use a dedicated wool program. Those usually move the drum very slowly and very sparsely to avoid felting and shrinking.

Additional hack: Since the garment is made of hair, the best detergent is shampoo for damaged or dry hair. You can even give it a rinse with hair conditioner to make the garment softer and less scratchy.


I suggest you to follow below steps:

  • Try to get a body model(mannequin), this is the most ideal one I opt for.
  • If you do not have one, you can use ordinary plastic chair like thisenter image description here
  • In this case, stretch your sweater through entire hands of plastic chair.
  • If you did not get one, try to adjust with a number of pillows like those shown here
  • Insert one of your T-shirts on it
  • Insert the shortened sweaters on it
  • Let it be there for some days until you find it has come to your size
  • Interesting idea although I don't really want to purchase a body mannequin and I don't know if pillows are hard enough to keep the shape.
    – Tot Zam
    Dec 7, 2016 at 14:24
  • @Tot Zam thanks Tot Zam, have updated answer as per your suggestions. Dec 7, 2016 at 15:07
  • Won't the chair stretch the sweater into a weird shape? Maybe I'll try a combination of a chair padded and rounded out to a better form with a pillow.
    – Tot Zam
    Dec 7, 2016 at 17:01
  • @TotZam Yes ofcourse, you could also use a single sofa Dec 8, 2016 at 5:48

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