12.02.2013

washing cashmere




I've always wondered whether or not I could safely wash cashmere.  I only own 3 cashmere garments but I still really wanted to be able to clean them myself.  I wondered if they'd shrink or just overall be ruined.  I splurged and got a bottle of wool and cashmere shampoo from The Laundress.  If you are anything like me then you can wander around their website for hours finding all kinds of great tips for garment care.  The shampoo is $19 a bottle and washes 32 loads of clothes. With my smaller wardrobe, this bottle should last me many years.



The cedar/sandalwood scent of the shampoo is heavenly and naturally repel moths.





I followed their website instructions and took the plunge with this scarf I've had for many years.
I measured it first to because I wanted to see if there would be any shrinking.  I filled the sink with air temperature water and put two small squirts of shampoo in the bowl.  Then I mixed the water and shampoo to make it sudsy and then put the scarf in and gently agitated it.





I let it soak for about 45 minutes, drained the water and then rinsed it gently.  I did not squeeze or wring it out. Just gently pushed the excess water out.





I then laid it onto a dry white towel and rolled it up.




Again gently squeezing any water out.








Because the temp outside was slightly warm I hung it on the line to dry.  In about 2 hours it was completely dry and smelled so good.  I re-measured the scarf and it did not shrink one bit.
So happy!

I figure it would have cost $6 to $10 to have it dry cleaned and this is way better for the environment.
So good and so worth it.

68 comments:

  1. I try to hand wash most wool things such as sweaters and scarves. I don't like the chemicals used in dry cleaning and always find the wool to feel quite a bit stiffer, even crunchy after exposure to them. In fact I dry clean almost never, unless there has been a terrible spill or stain. Even then I will try to spot clean. Freshly hand washed wool is so soft and fluffy and smells so nice. The product you used sounds wonderful.

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  2. I always hand wash my cashmere sweaters now. I hated the chemical smell of the dry cleaning fluid and they never seemed clean to me. I also hand wash my silk scarves. They come out just like new too. I love the idea of that cashmere shampoo smelling like cedar to repel moths. Something to check out for me :-). Thanks for the tips.

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    1. Miss you and your superior wit!

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  3. You washed a scarf, I am bowing to you. My scarfs are ancient and have never seen water!

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  4. I have this same sweater shampoo and love it.
    And btw, Janet, I made your Butternut Squash Risotto for our Thanksgiving dinner - it was divine. So easy too.
    I skipped the earth balance and did not roast the squash, and it still came out magnificent.
    Thank you so much for that recipe.

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  5. Thanks for the great tip...My husband and I both own cashmere sweaters so that shampoo would definitely save money. Yes, dry cleaning chemicals are not good for the environment or people either! ;o)

    Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

    Linda
    xo

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  6. I like the sound of cedar scenting the cashmere to repell moths. I use Aveda shampure and it works great too.
    I dislike that chemical dry cleaning smell and think it must be unhealthy as it lingers for many months.
    I am off to visit The Laundress now....toodle loo.

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  7. And it's good for the cashmere, too. Cashmere actually does better when hand-washed. I saved this artlcle from a while back -- it was on the blog Amid Privilege: http://amidprivilege.com/2009/12/how-to-find-choose-buy-and-understand-cashmere-sweaters-goats-are-involved-2/

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    1. thanks. i kind of remember that article. i'll re read it.

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  8. This is all good to know. I have a vintage cashmere black sweater with a detachable black mink shawl collar from the 1920s which belonged to my aunt. I could style it awesome back in the day when I was a younger woman although, I have to say, the mink now creeps me out. I am in the middle of moving and just packed that sweater/fur and thought to myself, OMG, I need to wash this sweater badly (it wasn't stored appropriately). Now, I'll try what you did, so thanks (the cashmere, not the fur). I've wondered also about your silks; how do you launder your pretty silk blouses, Janet?

    By the way, I liked your other post about how to survive the holiday(s); such as, if it doesn't work for you, tone it down or just don't do it. Not everybody gets the Hallmark-card moment on these holidays; it can be a heartbreaker. I'm battling with the whole concept due to changes in my family life over the years; frankly, I wish I could disappear from Halloween to Valentine's Day, like maybe to Bora Bora. But I'm dealing with it...

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    1. vicki i would def try washing your vintage sweater. also, you can have the mink collar removed and have a tailor cover up the snaps or whatever is holding the mink on with some sort of piping. the mink collar can be donated to an animal shelter to help keep the puppies warm.

      and btw, i do not have a Hallmark family either. :)

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    2. Oh, wow, I feel like we're chatting; you're right THERE as I was keyboarding; HI!! Thanks for the great tip. Yes, it has those snaps and I do have a good tailor who will know what to do; just hadn't gotten that far yet. And I would never have dreamed about the fur to my animal shelter. It would indeed keep little kittens or tiny pups warm, wouldn't it. They run out of things for the animals even at my county facility; I volunteered there at one point in my life and they'd cobble anything together; I once saw them take a toilet seat lid cover (those fabric covers)...it was round or oval...and they put a litter of motherless kittens in that cover; that's about how desperate they were for scraps of blankets or old sweaters or the like. And they were in the hospital portion where it's warmer. The dogs in the kennels are in a cement cell with maybe a washable pad but nothing much to cozy up to, and dogs love to bank against something solid; my beagle actually burrows and covers herself with a blanket. I had a cocker who would do that, too. Cats especially hate to be cold. Anyway, I don't have any good secondhand stores in my area (or vintage clothing shops...Mom had found one a long time ago for my aunt's other furs...Auntie was a fur freak) but I like the animal shelter idea 'way better. Again, thanks. Have a good day and thanks for answering. I'm down to hardly any blogging because I'm too busy right now, but I ALWAYS check your blog. I have learned a ton of stuff from you and your readers!

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    3. Kittens especially would also love to play with that mink collar. Even better if it could be made into several mink toy strips. Animal shelters can regularly use donations of old towels, blankets and linens.

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  9. Yeah, dry cleaning; I think it's so bad. I formerly dry cleaned the MAJORITY of my work clothes; now, I've gotten rid of nearly everything requiring dry cleaning. Not only is it ridiculously expensive, the smell is just objectionable. I still go to a "quality" dry cleaner for some of my husband's clothes but, gotta tell ya, this last batch smelled like stale, soiled socks. None of this can be good for us. And you've got to air the stuff outside for a couple of days before you bring it into the house or you're inhaling those chemicals. Yech, think what it is against your skin; again, can't be good. But there's a little old lady who works at my dry cleaner's and she's been in the business around that stuff for her entire adult life and she seems zippy and healthy, so go figure. But it's like everything, with the household cleaners or garden pesticides, the more we can go cleaner/greener, the better. We've got to get back to sanity on this stuff.

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  10. I had to laugh - we all know how sensitive cashmere is, right?
    Well, my two beloved cashmere cardigans were looking in need of some tlc and I put them aside to do later. My well-meaning husband added them to the regular laundry, washed them at 40°C and then into the tumble dryer… I know whoever reads this is feeling more than a little alarmed.
    To my utter surprise, both cardigans came out soft and like new, no felting in sight… I wouldn't have tried this out myself but am delighted to know that my medium-range-priced cashmere survived this treatment and can be worn and washed far more than I might otherwise have.
    I should have known after my daughter put her real suede moto jacket through the same ordeal and it also came out looking brand new GASP :O!!!

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    1. gasp is right! i can't believe they survived the dryer too!

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    2. Lucky you!
      More often than not I wash my cashmere shawls and jumpers in the machine - the secret lies in the right detergent, low temperature and gentle wash cycle. It really must be a special liquid for delicates and wool. I recently used normal laundry detergent by mistake and my scarf was completely ruined. I haven't dared to put them in the tumble dryer though and usually iron them at a fairly high temperature whilst still slightly damp which works very well.

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  11. Oh, and I never dry clean anything. Only my husband's suits are dry cleaned. I can't see how it can be good for you. In fact, I wonder if it doesn't contribute to breast (and other) cancers.
    I wash everything else, by hand if necessary - but that is rare (see above LOL!).

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  12. What a coincidence! I've purchased the same wool shampoo this Saturday (2nd bottle) and hand washed two merino sweaters. I found hand washing surprisingly satisfying. I've finished up my first bottle machine washing (wool cycle) and even then I had no shrinking with anything (wool or cashmere). I never dry clean except a wool coat - which I rarely wear.

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  13. This is timely for me. I have a couple sweaters that could use a wash. Just in the last couple of years did I realize I could gently hand wash wool and cashmere. The product you used sounds wonderful. I am going to try it. It was so nice to see your post today. I hope your Thanksgiving was good.

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  14. So nice to do something yourself that saves money and the environment. I use Ivory baby wash laundry soap that is literally just pennies and has no added fragrance. I store my sweaters in a dresser with cedar drawers so no scent is necessary to repel the moths. My machine has a hand wash cycle that does a splendid job of it, then just lay flat to dry. I can't imagine why anyone would choose the dry cleaner as an alternative to washing knitwear at home.

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  15. Hi darl, I was mine int he washing machine and have even been known to throw it in the table dryer! xx

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  16. Great instructions, Janet. Actually, Martha Stewart says do not dry clean cashmere as it will age much quicker. Hand wash and dry flat is the way to go to make the garments last.

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  17. I use the laundress as well Janet and even use the handwash cycle in my washing machine and have had no shrinkage. In fact, I think it all gets better with age! Well done!

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  18. Hi Janet, Did you retire? You do so many different activities I can't imagine putting in a work day also.

    Thank you for all the tips and instructions and recipes; it's all appreciated. Kathleen

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  19. I really enjoy your posts so much - they are always interesting and informative ! But most of all - I really look up to you, and your views and attitudes towards life and trying to live more simply and mindfully. I strive to be the same, and appreciate your advice on downsizing your wardrobe, etc. Please - keep it up ! Don't think that people aren't reading and enjoying - they are !

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  20. Me too! The Laundress wash is brilliant! I love it even though it costs $22 here in Canada. Smells so good. Dry cleaning is bad for cashmere, if it's washed properly it just gets better and better.

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  21. I love The Laundress Wool & Cashmere Shampoo! I've not yet attempted this, but here's another tip for smaller cashmere items, using your salad spinner: http://www.realsimple.com/beauty-fashion/clothing-care/how-care-cashmere-10000000735352/

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  22. 99% of my cashmere is from the Goodwill and at 5.99 for a sweater, I'm fairly cavalier about washing. Throw in machine with cold water and a smidgen of regular laundry detergent. throw it in the dryer on air dry then lay out to finish. I'm hard on the garments, wearing them to work outside in the cold winter. They're a functional luxury. Thank you Goodwill!

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    1. I was brought up with the technique you outlined above but about 12 years ago with far too much going on in my life and far too many woollen and cashmere sweaters...and a new front loading washing machine with an ultra gentle cycle, I decided to take the plunge.

      I have for 12 years regularly washed dozens of cashmere and woollen sweaters in it. The key is:
      1) put the sweater in a lingerie bag so that it does not risk being stretched
      2) use cold water and an ultra gentle cycle
      3) respin on high to remove more water (no damaging stretching due to lingerie bag)
      4) lie flat and it dries in no time (in fact I throw a fluffy towel over the radiator and break another rule by laying the sweater over it and it is even faster).
      5) the sweaters are fine. No pilling no damage no shrinkage nothing bad....and it is so easy that I wear wool or cashmere daily in cold weather

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    2. wow, i'm going to have to give it a try. i think the lingerie bag is the secret. thanks for sharing.

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  23. Janet, thank you for your thoughtful, informative posts. Always a pleasure to see a new post! Thank you for sharing your lifestyle and I look up to you! This particular reminded me of what I have always known, but not always slowed down to do…thank you!!!!!!! Tina, Ohio

    P.S. Your blog is not mediocre…it is awesome!

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  24. Any tips on cleaning an Hermes scarf? I totally botched one I bought on ebay by washing in the same way I would wash cashmere.

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    1. oh i have no idea about the hermes scarf. i would go to mai tai's blog and ask her.

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    2. really cold water and shampoo or hand wash, and swish gently, then roll gently and dry flat. works a treat

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    3. I haven't gone into her blog for awhile but there is a woman in Chicago named Janice who is a big fan of Hermes scarves and has a lot of them; I bet she knows how to clean/launder. I think her blog is The Vivienne Files; she's been often referred to by Tish Jett at A Femme d'un certain age blog (don't quote me on how that is spelled; Tish is an awesome writer/observer and lives in France).

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  25. Amazing! As to the poster above, please take your hermes scarf to a good dry cleaner. I wouldn't risk ruining that work of art.

    Please stop by my blog. I'm hosting my first giveaway ever!
    http://japolina.blogspot.com/2013/12/contest-giveaway-yipeee.html

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  26. A wonderful reminder on a small good thing to do.

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  27. I love your posts Janet, and I always look forward to the next one. Always calming, charming and informative.
    thank you. Linda C.

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  28. My darling husband bought me an Eric Bompard while we were in Paris. The salesman told me that cashmere LIKES water and that washing the garment revitalizes it. Thanks for the precise instructions. Allegra

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  29. i agree with anon {linda c.}, two comments up - your posts are always calming, charming and informative.
    how do you calm us like you do???

    i have had the laundress on my radar for quite awhile ~ maybe it's time to give it a go.
    i have a grey cashmere scarf that i've worn every winter since my oldest daughter was in 1st grade.
    she's in her second year of college, now.
    washing-up time, i'd say : )

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  30. Dear Janet- Many thanks for such a helpful post! I used to wash our woollies and cashmere in a special Aussie product called Martha Gardener's Wool Wash, it worked a treat and they smelt of eucalyptus, also a moth repellent (T would probably have hated this smell too, I guess). But haven't seen it around for a very long time. So have emailed The Laundress asking if they ship to Oz.
    Great to read that the cashmere wash works with silk scarves too. Have never liked dry cleaning things. Too many nasty chemicals and they do come back feeling harsh. We had a lovely woollen blanket dry cleaned at the end of 2012 winter and it went from baby soft to quite stiff and harsh. That said, my husband has recently found a dry cleaner using healthier and more environmentally sound cleaning stuff so is now getting his suits and sports coats done there. Best wishes, Pammie

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  31. Thanks for the tip, Janet. I'm going to give it a try. It seems like this technique would also work for fine-gauge merino wool cardigans which seem a bit more durable than cashmere? Dry cleaning always leaves my clothes with a strange chemical odor (and they always press and crease the sleeves, which I dislike!).

    Deborah

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  32. Thanks for the info and link.

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  33. This is good and resourceful information. Thanks!

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  34. I wash all my cashmere in Eucalan. I put 2-3 capfuls in a bathtub filled with 3-4 inches of water. Swish it around. Throw in a couple of sweaters, swish them around and then leave them soaking in there for a couple of hours. I then come back, take the sweaters out of the bath and gently squeeze the water from the sweaters. You will see that any dust and dirt from the sweaters has fallen to the bottom of the tub. It was shocking initially to see how dirty my previously drycleaned sweaters actually were! Lastly, I take a clean towel, lay the sweater out on it, roll up the towel with the sweater inside and then squeeze the rolled up towel until the towel is wet and the sweater is just damp. I then lay the sweater flat to dry. The Eucalon requires no rinsing and comes in scented and non-scented varities. I haven't dry cleaned a sweater in years. They sell the product at knitting shops or you can buy it online. wwww.eucalan.com

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    1. thanks for sharing. i have never heard of this product before. and so interesting that your dry cleaned garments were so shockingly dirty. love hearing this!

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  35. Hello Janet,
    I wear cashmere everyday and only wash cashmere in my machine. I started doing this when Madeline started wearing cashmere because she is left handed her sweaters always get full of pencil and the dry cleaners simply cannot get that out. I wash every sweater inside out and typically by itself on the wool setting on my Whirlpool machine. I would never do this in a machine with an agitator, but in a high end machine it works very well. I often have to go through the spin cycle twice if there's only one garment being washed. It comes out perfect every time! And I use Tide! For the price of dry cleaning I think I have more than paid for my machine.
    xo
    annie

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    1. annie i'm so glad i posted this b/c i had no idea people were washing their cashmere in the washing machine. thanks for sharing your routine with me.

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  36. After soaking, If you put any delicate woven or knit in a lingerie bag and set your washer to spin cycle only, it will emerge almost totally dry without any damage. Then proceed with air drying on a towel. I'm a knitter/spinner with over 50 years of experience with cashmere and angora yarns and this method works perfectly. Another excellent product for woolens product is Euclan, which is not rinsed from the fibers Just soak, drain, spin and air dry.

    Excellent job.

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    1. what a great idea and i love that you have so much experience with this. i just always thought cashmere was so delicate. thanks so much for sharing. !

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    2. Janet, I am telling you...this post of yours and the responses has been a total revelation for me. I have stayed away from cashmere and wools here in SoCal due to warmer weather but primarily because I figured I'd never have an easy way to keep them clean! The sharing of sensible and helpful tips on your blog is really something...there's an amazing amount of practical knowledge in the blog world (smart and talented women!).

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    3. me too vicki. i had no idea either. i'm so thrilled!

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  37. i wash my wool and cashmere sweaters and scarves in a pillowcase, since i do not have a lingerie bag. i put a couple of items per case and then either tie or zip case up. i wash delicate, cold and dry flat.

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  38. A bit off subject, but having to do with cleaning….please post under "dear janet" how you keep your wood floors clean! Many thanks, Janet

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    1. well it's not too complicated. i sweep them and then get on my hands and knees and wipe them with a barely damp cloth. i just do the paths we walk on mostly. but my house is small so this is doable. :)

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  39. After reading your post, I ordered a bottle from Amazon: Thanks Janet:

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  40. Started following your blog for your simplicity and good sense. Got hooked by the veganism, and good sense!
    Sorry if you covered this already, but I'm trying to sort out cashmere and veganism - what is your advice?
    Thank you!

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    1. hello. well obviously cashmere is not vegan. the cashmere sweater that i purchased is the first non 2nd hand, non vegan purchase i've made in a very long time. this past year i wanted to veganize my wardrobe but it really has not been a great success. i don't want to get rid of my wool coats or some of my leather goods. i put a lot of thought into buying the sweater and knew i was going to keep it for my lifetime so i went ahead and made the purchase. i think ea person has to make that decision for themselves. i hope this is helpful to you.

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    2. Yes, I thank you for your thoughtfulness and honesty. It sounds like we are on a similar journey of simplicity and mindfulness. We keep on working on this and get closer as we go. You have wonderful blog, please keep writing.
      E.

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  41. Janet, I just wanted pop in and tell you that I think it is just the best thing how your blog posts often turn into fun conversations. I love it. Nice atmosphere you have created here. Have a beautiful day!

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  42. ....this how my mother washed all her hand knit sweaters/garments

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  43. Such a great and informative article and comment section Janet! I learned so much.
    xxojoan

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  44. Really an informative blog about the care of cashmere products. It will help me a lot in caring of my cashmere jumpers which I love a lot. Thanks to share this knowledge with public.

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kindness is never out of style.