How to wash and dry different fabric types
Different types of fabric require different care. Keep in mind the fabric care instructions when washing and drying different types of fabric. It’s important to follow these instructions to keep your clothes (and the words they carry) in good condition.
Cotton is one of the most widely used fabrics for clothes manufacturing and it’s also quite easy to take care of.
You can set your washing machine to standard settings and throw your cotton clothing in. The only trick with cotton is the temperature you wash it in—don’t go for high degrees because it can lead to your cotton clothes shrinking and the colors running.
Heat isn’t cotton’s best friend, so you should avoid tumble-drying. It’s better to line or flat-dry your cotton clothes. And if you’re drying them outside, don’t forget to turn the clothing inside out to prevent the colors from fading in the sun.
Polyester fabric is widely used for garments and not hard to maintain fresh-looking. It’s often combined with different types of fabric. Polyblends are manufactured to give certain characteristics to a garment. For example, it’s mixed with cotton to make the latter smoother or less prone to wrinkling.
Polyester clothing can be machine-washed on a standard washing cycle. It’s recommended to wash polyester clothing at 86°F–104°F (30°C–40°C).
Polyester fabric won’t shrink if you tumble-dry it on low heat. Pro tip: to avoid static, take your polyester goodies out of the dryer when they’re still slightly damp.
Elastane (or spandex, lycra)
Elastane (also known as spandex or lycra) is a durable, stretchy fabric that’s widely used in sports attire, like leggings and shorts. It can also be blended with other fabrics to give a stretch to a garment.
Most of the clothing which contains elastane can be machine-washed. However, you should avoid chlorine bleach when washing spandex because it can ruin the structure of the material.
Some spandex blend fabrics can be tumble-dried unless stated otherwise on the care label. Keep in mind that clothing items with a higher elastane content may not do well with heat, therefore line-drying is the safest option. If you decide to tumble-dry this material, turn the heat as low as possible.
A lot of t-shirts you own are made of jersey fabric. This material is usually a blend of cotton, wool, and synthetic fibers. It’s versatile since it can offer natural stretch when it’s single-knit, but gives a heavier feel when double-knit.
Taking care of jersey fabric is similar to taking care of cotton because it’s a blend of cotton, wool, and synthetic fibers. Use standard settings on your washing machine, but keep the temperature down as this material is prone to shrinking in high temperatures. Due to that, avoid tumble-drying and use the flat drying method instead.
Rayon (or viscose, modal)
Rayon fabric is made out of cellulose fibers which come from wood pulp. It can also be labeled as viscose or modal. It’s widely used for making clothing and other accessories because of its versatility and low base price.
Taking care of rayon can be tricky. To avoid ruining the fabric you should either hand or machine-wash it on the Delicate setting. Never wring or twist viscose garments.
After washing, allow your rayon clothes to line-dry or leave them to drip-dry.
Recycled polyester (or rPET)
Recycled polyester or rPET for short is a fabric that contains synthetic fibers. Unlike regular polyester, it has a smaller carbon footprint. The reason is that rPET is produced by recycling existing materials (like plastic) instead of making more new waste. Recycled polyester has the same characteristics as regular polyester.
You should machine-wash rPET items using the Permanent Press washing cycle. This material has a tendency to become a little stiff after washing and produce static electricity, therefore you need to add a fabric softener during rinsing.
This fabric is best dried on a low heat setting in the dryer or line-dried.
Silk is a natural protein fiber fabric that is made to produce comfortable, soft clothing items, such as dresses, blouses, ties, and others.
You have to wash silk gently. In order not to ruin it, hand-wash it in cool water mixed with a gentle detergent. On rare occasions, your silk garment’s care label might say it can be machine-washed. If you decide to machine-wash it, use the Gentle cycle setting without other fabrics in the machine because silk tends to bleed color.
If you want to be safe and not ruin your silk items by accident, wash them by hand.
Never wring or tumble-dry your silk garment. The best option is to either flat-dry or leave it on a hanger to dry. Silk dries quite quickly, but remember not to leave it in the sun as the colors may fade.
Cashmere is a very soft and light fabric that feels great on your skin. It also requires special care.
Depending on the fabric composition of your cashmere garment, you can do two things: machine-wash it in cold water (no warmer than 86°F) on a Gentle cycle or gently hand-wash it, also in cold water.
Cashmere should be air-dried and never tumble-dried. Keep it away from any sources of heat, like the sun or a radiator.
There are different types of leather, therefore, it’s difficult to give a set of advice on all of them. The first thing you want to check out is, of course, the care label. If you see the Do Not Wash laundry symbol, you should trust dry cleaners with washing this item.
But there are types of leather you can indeed wash at home. If the care label says so, you’re good to go. You should wash leather like this: select the Gentle or Delicate cycle, set the water temperature to cold, and the spin cycle to medium.
When drying leather, you can use a towel straight after washing to remove excess moisture and then leave it to air-dry. Do not put leather items in a dryer, as it can lead to the material wrinkling.
Wool jumpers are very soft and comfy, but also require gentle care to look fresh for years. It’s not uncommon for wool to be mixed with other fabrics, which makes the washing a little easier.
If the care label of the specific garment says it should be hand-washed, you need to do it in cold water mixed with a mild detergent that’s suitable for wool (some are not). If the item contains a mix of wool and other fabrics and is machine-washable, you should wash it on the Gentle cycle in cold water and add a wool washing liquid.
Wool is best air-dried. Do not tumble-dry it as it can shrink in high temperatures.