Fabrics 101: How to Treat Your Clothes the Right Way!
I know what your thinking! FINALLY an easy guide to fabrics. I've often spoken with styling clients about how to wash/dry certain fabrics and it can be stressful especially with new clothes. There is nothing worst than shrinking your favourite shirt or getting holes in your dress after only one wear. Although this guide is intended to guide you in properly washing your clothes, you should always consult your clothing washing instructions tag before other instructions. Each clothing article is treated differently when made so it's important to follow it's specific guidelines when available.
Some clothing tags don't include written instructions and they go by symbols. It is said that less than 1 in 7 people can identify these symbols properly, so I've attached an easy guide for you below. These symbols include washing instructions as well as drying methods. What some people don't realize is that each step of the washing or drying process can ruin your fabric if the process is not followed properly. I tend to pay close attention to the washing instructions but when it comes to drying, my method tends to be when in doubt always hang dry. What's your go to cleaning method? DM me on Instagram and let me know, I'm curious!
Below I've included simple steps to follow for washing, drying and the likelihood of fabrics shrinking after washing or drying:
When washing polyester use warm water to remove stains, hot water could overtime shrink the fabric so try and avoid it.
Polyester is a synthetic fabric, a.k.a man-made, this means it can be susceptible to damage and shrinkage in the dryer. If you do choose to put it in the dryer, ensure it's on low heat, if that isn't possible I suggest air drying.
Cashmere is a very delicate fabric, it's what makes it so soft, to avoid damaging your cashmere many will opt for dry cleaning. However, if you want to risk it, you can wash cashmere at home in cold water, either by hand or on a gentle cycle and always use a garment bag for extra protection.
Never use the dryer for your cashmere goods. After washing, gently roll into a ball to press the excess water out, never wring or you'll run the risk of stretching it out unevenly.
Use cold water to wash your cotton, never hot water as this can lead to shrinking. Typically you can use a normal cycle on your washing machine to wash your cotton fabrics.
Although cotton blends tend to survive the dryer, 100% cotton can shrink in the dryer. To avoid shrinking, I recommend hang drying but you should be okay by drying in cool temperatures.
Elastane (Spandex or Lycra)
Elastane can be washed in cold water and is fairly resilient to machine washing when at the right temperature.
When elastane is exposed to heat it is very vulnerable to damage and can even melt. To keep the fabric in good condition hang dry, if you're willing to risk it you can use a dryer under cool settings.
Once upon a time, rayon was dry clean only. Now with different treatments, a lot of manufacturers have added chemical finishes so you're able to wash your rayon. You must wash rayon in cold water on a gentle cycle, it is an extremely delicate fabric that is prone to shrinkage and colour bleeding if not treated properly. If you want to play it extra safe, hand wash.
Do not put your rayon in the dryer, this will completely ruin the shape of the garment. This is one of the worst fabrics prone to shrinking.
Unfortunately, 100% silk is prone to fading when wet, try testing a patch with a small amount of water from a cloth to see if fading occurs, if it does, bring to professional cleaner. If you are safe from colour bleeding and fading, you can put this fabric in a gentle cycle in your washing machine, in cold water. I recommend not washing it with other garments, to play it extra safe, hand wash.
Do not put your silks in the dryer or wring it out when wet. The best way to dry your silk is to gently pat it dry with a towel, then let it drip dry over your bathtub, it should dry relatively quick.
Good news, you can wash wool in the washing machine! Most machines actually have a wool cycle, if yours doesn't, no big deal, you can wash it in cold water on a gentle cycle.
It's recommended to never put your wools in the dryer as this can promote pilling. Lay flat to air dry.
If you have access to your garments cleaning tag, use the guide below to help navigate the symbols and clean your garment properly!
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