You clearly appreciate the finer things and know that a quality fiber item is worth keeping for a long time.
The information below discusses how to clean your alpaca item.
You will find that with proper care, your valuable alpaca garment will become a personal favorite or perhaps even a family heirloom!
Here are some tips, gleaned from experts, on the best ways to keep your fine alpaca garment clean and in good shape for many years...
First, and perhaps foremost...
Think of your alpaca sweater as fine yet strong hair, which is what it essentially is.
Cleaning any natural animal fiber garment can be done in a washing machine, as long as there is no agitation at all, but we don't recommend using a washing machine for anything larger than socks. Felting can occur in the spin cycle, every bit as easily as agitation. The finer the fibers, the less handling it can take before felting.
Temperature changes between the wash and rinse water tends to be the most common cause of shrinkage. Make sure the water stays the same temperature fro wash and rinse. Lukewarm is best, about 100 to 105 degrees. Don't use extremely hot or cold water.
Laundry soap and dishwashing liquid can be too harsh for some fibers. We recommend baby or other mild shampoo to our customers (skip the stuff with lots of fragrance or conditioners added - cheap stuff is just fine). After all, these products are designed for gently cleaning hair fibers, thus it's fabulous for alpaca garments.
Swish your garment very, very gently in a (clean!) sink with the shampoo, let sit for just two or three minutes, and rinse in same temp water. Be sure to think in advance about how you'll get the same temperature water for washing and rinsing. Maybe a bucket transferred from the tub once the temperature is set. Try to handle the item as little as possible.
Leave it in the sink for a few minutes for it to drain, gently squeeze just enough water out so you don't soak the floor when taking the garment out of the sink. Lay it out on a towel and GENTLY roll up in the towel. Don't squeeze or press hard- you only want to have the towel absorb more water. Leave it in the towel for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a dry towel and let air dry. Turn over and place on fresh, dry towel every few hours (drying time is highly controlled by room temperature and humidity). Another nice, simple and inexpensive drying method is to use a sweater dryer rack. These allow you to lay out the sweater and provide good air flow around the garment. They typically cost around $10 at Wal-Mart type stores or online (search for: sweater drying rack).
Whatever you do, don't use Woolite! Even the "gentle" formula can be too harsh for some fine clothing.
Structured coats, jackets, finely woven or intricately detailed garments should be dry-cleaned.
Though not as susceptible as wool items, during the summer months, your alpaca garments should be stored away from possible moth infestation. We recommend using a sealed cedar chest, closed bag, or another moth protected environment.
With proper care, your alpaca garment will give you many years of soft warm enjoyment and you too will have an alpaca heirloom!
If you have further questions about the care of your fine alpaca item, feel free to chat, email, tweet, message or call (whew!) us. Contact us... we love to chat alpaca!