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5 Ways to Take Care of Fabrics While Traveling

While it's all very well to take a cashmere blanket on the plane, a merino sweater for a chilly night, or an angora cardigan for when the air conditioning gets a little too strong on another layover, when it comes to caring for these delicate materials, the picture gets a little fuzzier.
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By Kate Cheng

While it's all very well to take a cashmere blanket on the plane, a merino sweater for a chilly night on a safari park, or an angora cardigan for when the air conditioning gets a little too strong on (yet another) layover, when it comes to caring for these delicate materials, the picture gets a little fuzzier (sorry). So, while traveling with luxe materials may add extra pizzazz to your ensemble, it does come with the added stress of having to care for them.

Carry a Lint Roller in Your Carry-On

Good quality fabrics like cashmere will naturally pill over time. While a little shedding is to be expected, it's still on you to keep up the appearance of the fabric and make sure it remains looking fuzz-free! Using a lint roller, cashmere comb or depiller will do the trick, but avoid over-raking too often as this may result in holes. Our favourite is from Gleener which has three different blades for fine and thick knits - and it's portable enough to be considered travel size!

Wash By Hand

Delicate fabrics like wool or angora may read 'Dry Clean Only' on the label, but that may just be a way for manufacturers and retailers to keep the elite feel on the garment. In reality, many fabrics are best washed by hand. When you're on the go, of course, it is difficult to find time to swish and swill in the sink, but that quick dunk in the hotel wash basin can save a garment from being stained beyond repair, not to mention extending its shelf-life. For beach holidays, hand washing bikinis in-between washes can also keep swimwear feeling fresh if your villa doesn't have a washing machine.

Pack a Hand Wash Soap, and Use Lukewarm Water Only!

Fill a (clean!) sink with tepid water and add a small amount of gentle cleaning liquid - we've been known to use hand soap or even an all-natural shampoo! - to the basin, distributing suds evenly. Place the garment in only when the sink is filled, since the water pressure can stretch malleable materials. Make sure your sweater or cardigan is turned inside out, and, once submerged, soak anywhere from ten minutes to a few hours.

Lay Out Fabrics Flat

For best results, lay the garment out on a clean, white towel on your hotel desk, since this prevents color transfers, and gently roll the two items together to lightly press out any excess water. Once this is done, lay it out flat to air dry. Make sure any pockets are stretched out straight and that buttons are done up, to avoid uneven sagging and wrinkles. If you do find your top is a little too small, now is also a good time to 're-shape' it, stretching or pulling where appropriate. Alternatively, washing in slightly warmer water can be a good idea if your item is a little on the baggier side.

Tissue Paper is Not Just for Your Suitcase

Once dry, you should store your cashmere or wool with tissue paper, and, if you're staying in one area for more than a few nights, perhaps invest in some mothballs or rosemary to stash in your wardrobe. As a final note, hanging these sweaters is never a good idea - we'll say it before and we'll say it again: the fabrics are d-e-l-i-c-a-t-e and therefore don't respond well to being pulled at by the shoulders!

Never have a (mo)hair out of place, again!