Fashion: A 5-Minute Guide to Caring for Your Fabrics

Now that it actually feels like fall, it’s finally acceptable to start doing all the fall things you love: drinking hot apple cider, planning your Halloween costume, lighting pumpkin-scented candles in every room of the house, and yes, pulling all your best fall clothes out of the back of the closet. We’re talking wool sweaters, insanely soft cashmere, and leather everything, just to name a few.

But now that it’s time to start wearing these cool-weather fabrics and styles, isn’t it time to start caring for them the right way, too? If you plan to wear them again next season (and for many seasons to come), then the answer should definitely be “yes.” And just in case you have no idea where to start, we created this handy little guide to washing, wearing, and storing your favorite fall fabrics.

Cashmere

How to Wash It: Since the luxurious fabric is so delicate (and pricy), wash your cashmere only when necessary to extend its shelf life. When you do need to wash it, simply fill a clean sink or tub with lukewarm water and a gentle shampoo, such as baby shampoo. After softly washing and rinsing to remove bubbles, press out excess water using a towel, then lay the garment flat to dry on a clean towel or surface. Avoid wringing wet cashmere, as it can damage the fibers and cause it to lose shape.

How to Remove Wrinkles: Turn the garment inside out, then lay a damp towel on top. Iron on the lowest setting, or use a handheld steamer to remove wrinkles, smoothing the fabric with your hands as you go.

How to Store It: For the short term, fold cashmere—never hang it—using tissue paper to help absorb any moisture. To store in the off-season, keep your cashmere in a cool, dry space away from sources of heat or sunlight. Add mothballs to your storage area to keep moths from damaging the fabric.

Leather

How to Wash It: For a routine clean, simply dab or wipe leather with a cool, damp cloth to remove dirt, being careful not to rub too hard and scuff the fabric. Need a deeper clean? Submerge your jacket, pants, dress, or other leather item in warm water until saturated, then tumble dry on high heat. Tip: Washing and drying leather can actually give it a well-worn, vintage look and help break in a shiny, stiff item.

How to Remove Wrinkles: For minor wrinkles, steam leather using a handheld steamer. For deeper creases, set your iron to warm, lay a cotton or linen towel atop the item, then gently press the leather with your iron for a few seconds to soften the appearance of wrinkles.

How to Store It: Hang your leather pieces on a wooden hanger in a closet or space that’s dry and gets good air circulation.

 Faux Fur

How to Wash It: Toss synthetic faux furs into the washer using the delicate cycle, cold water, a mild detergent, and no fabric softener (it can break down the fibers in faux fur). Hang the garment to air dry, then shake it out to fluff up the fur. Not sure if your piece is synthetic? Just take it to the dry cleaner to have it professionally cleaned.

How to Care For It: Remove any trapped odors using a handheld steamer, and use a soft-bristled brush once a week to remove knots, matting, and any dirt or particles.

How to Store It: One rule: Keep it in a clean, dry space. (That was simple, right?)

Silk

How to Wash It: Because silk is prone to absorbing dirt and oils, wash your silk pieces immediately after wearing them by hand-washing in cold water using delicate, oil-free soap. Use a towel to dab or press out excess water, then hang to let air dry.

How to Remove Wrinkles: Steam from a handheld steamer is powerful enough to remove even the deepest wrinkles in this luxe fabric.

How to Store It: Avoid folding and storing silk in a drawer; hang it in a cool, dry place instead.

 Wool

How to Wash It: Add a few squirts of gentle wool cleaner to tepid water in a spotless tub or sink; avoid warm or hot water, as they can cause wool to shrink. Turn the garment inside out, then submerge in water and let soak for about 10 minutes. Rinse with cool water, then press out moisture with a clean towel. Reshape the item and lay flat on a towel to dry.

How to Remove Wrinkles: Use a handheld steamer to remove wrinkles, and allow the garment to air dry before wearing.

How to Store It: Fold and store wool in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Never hang wool, as this can cause the heavy fabric to stretch and change shapes.