How to Wash and Care for Different Fabrics

Do you ever wonder why some fabrics shrink in the washer? The answer is simple: They’re not meant to be placed inside the machine. There are many ways to care for different fabrics. Natural fibers like cotton and wool are more likely to shrink when tossed inside the washer.

Read on to learn how to wash and care for different fabric types. 

Cotton

There’s no single way to wash and care for cotton because of its many variants. The best method to wash it is by following the instruction on the item’s care label.

Most cotton fabrics, especially t-shirts, are prone to shrinking. You can prevent this by washing it with cold water using your hands. Give your item a gentle stretch after washing to return to its shape.

Cotton fabric maintains its form when you air-dry it. Once it’s dry, you can iron your cotton t-shirt and jeans.

Pleather

Whether you have a pleather jacket or couch, you’ll be happy to learn that this fabric is easy to clean. You don’t have to wash it regularly or after every use the same way you care for different fabrics. Just wipe the stains off with a microfiber cloth and warm water. If the stain is tough, use a gentle detergent.

Use cool water and a mild soap once you think your pleather clothing is ready for a bath. I recommend placing it inside a mesh laundry bag if you choose to machine-wash the garment. 

Satin

Satin’s smooth texture makes it look delicate and hard to clean. You can wash it on the gentle cycle of your washer or by hand. Ensure the detergent is gentle and the water is not too hot.

Do not twist or wring satin fabric because it might lose its shape. Avoid placing it in the dryer. Instead, jelly-roll the garment on a clean, dry towel, making sure to apply enough pressure. 

Ironing satin items is also not a great choice. But if the fabric is super wrinkly, only use the light setting and do it inside out. 

Velvet

Velvet is another sensitive fabric that can be intimidating to clean. One wrong move, and you’ll ruin this premium material.

The right way to clean velvet is to dry-clean it. But if this process seems daunting for you, use the washer on the gentle cycle with cold water. Do not place it in the dryer at all costs. Instead, wait for it to completely air-dry.

Velvet jeans and other garments require a steamer instead of an iron. If you can’t invest in one, place it beside your steamy bathroom to remove the wrinkles. 

Outdoor Fabrics

Outdoor fabrics need not be washed all the time. But it would help if you didn’t wait for summer to end before removing the stains. The key is a gentle detergent with a powerful scrub. Take your time scrubbing it until the marks loosen and altogether leave.

If the fabric is removable from the cushion, rinse it well every season. Soak it in warm water and bleach for an hour, then remove the solution with plain water.

To remove mildew from outdoor fabric, shake out the item and apply heavy-duty liquid detergent. Use hot water to wash the fabric furniture, then place it under the sun to dry.

Microfiber

Microfiber furniture requires dish soap suds when cleaning. Squirt some soap into a bowl full of water, then duck your sponge in it. A sponge with nylon bristles is your best choice, but a plain white cloth will do.

Soap the entire material until everything is covered. Then, let it dry.

If your microfiber fabric is not water-safe, use rubbing alcohol. This solution evaporates quickly to prevent the cloth from damaging. 

Microfibers tend to feel stiff after a wash. Use the rough side of a sponge to scrub out the texture and wait for it to completely dry.

Silk

The process of cleaning silk fabric depends on its type. High-quality, luxurious silk requires pure dry cleaning only. Some low-maintenance silks can go in the washer on a gentle cycle as long as you place them in a mesh bag.

The machine shouldn’t be full. Leave an adequate gap that will fit a hand, then soak up the water with a towel after the cycle.  

Check the label on your item to learn how you should care for the silk material. In general, silk should never touch chlorine bleach or direct sunlight. It would be best if you didn’t tumble dry nor mix it with other colored fabrics. 

Polyester

Polyester is a relatively low-maintenance fabric. It’s OK to wash 100% polyester as long as you avoid heat. The cloth is also unlikely to sink because it’s 100% synthetic. But if your polyester contains a blend of cotton, there is a huge chance it will shrink.

Turn polyester clothes inside out to avoid pilling when you’re machine-washing them. Use any detergent and a low-heat setting, then press start.

Wool

Wool is a fragile natural fiber that needs gentle care. That said, you only need to wash it when necessary. If you accidentally spill your drink on the material, you can spot-clean it with water and gentle soap. Manually remove pilled fabric and pet hair with a lint remover and Gleener. 

You don’t have to dry-clean or wash it often because wool possesses self-regulating fibers. It should only touch the washing machine every season. 

For wool clothing, airing them out in the sun is enough after every wear. Doing so freshens the material before keeping it inside the closet. If possible, fold your wool sweater instead of hanging it.

Linen

You don’t need to dry-clean linen because its manufacturing treatment allows it to be machine-washable. You can wash it regularly at low temperatures until the material gets softer.

Machine-drying linen is also acceptable. Stick to a lower temp and remove it from the dryer while it’s still damp and stiff. 

Bottom Line

Fabrics are as diverse as their care instructions. Some materials require dry-cleaning only, while others can go inside the washing machine. Wool, velvet, and silk are some delicate fabrics that need extra care. Meanwhile, linen, cotton, and microfiber are low-maintenance.

Read the care label on the item to know how to wash or tend to your material correctly. 

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