General Fabric Care
Understanding fabrics can be valuable when, in the absence of a garment Care Label, a laundry decision needs to be made. If a garment Care Label is provided, pay attention to it. If a garment Care Label is not provided, the following information may be of help to you. When washing fiber blends (i.e., 70% polyester, 30% cotton wool), wash as if they were 100% of the predominant fiber. You may also find it helpful to consult the Care Label Guide.
- Cotton is a commonly used fiber because of its strength and breathability. It absorbs water well but wrinkles easily. It may be washed in hot water and dried easily at high temperatures.
- Linen is cellulose fiber like cotton but it wrinkles easily. It may be washed and ironed as cotton is, but do not press sharp creases as its fibers break easily.
- Silk is a protein fiber. It may be machine washed in warm temperatures unless the Care Label says it is “delicate”. Do not use Chlorine Bleach. Do not dry in direct sunlight.
- Wool is a natural protein fiber which is almost wrinkle free. Most woolens are “dry clean only”. However, if the Care Label says “washable”, follow garment Care Label for laundering instructions. Be very gentle as it will shrink if it is agitated when it is hot and wet. Use cold or lukewarm water and a short washing time. Use a “delicate” cycle and provide an 8-minute soak with a 2 minute agitation. Chlorine will damage wool. Drying in warm and hot temperatures will cause extreme shrinkage. Do not dry in direct sunlight.
- Acetates and Tri-acetates are heat-sensitive and brittle. Most acetates are “dry clean only”. If the Care Label says they are “washable”, handle with care and follow Care Label instructions. Wash in cool or warm water. Never twist or wring wet acetates. Iron at warm setting or with steam.
- Acrylics are wrinkle resistant and retain their shape well. They are heat sensitive, so air dry or tumble dry low and use a steam iron on warm setting.
- Glass fibers are often used in bedspreads and draperies. If possible, hand wash fabrics with glass fibers. Never dry clean glass. Do not twist or wring as this will break the fibers. Do not iron.
- Nylon is the strongest fiber available. White nylon products must be washed separately because they pick up color easily. Rinse in cool water and tumble dry-low. Gray or yellowed nylon can be treated with Mrs. Stewart’s Bluing to restore whiteness.
- Polyesters are very wrinkle resistant and strong. However, they take on oily soil easily. Wash in warm water. Turn polyester knits inside out to prevent snagging and pilling. If ironing is necessary, use steam iron on warm setting.
- Rayon is absorbent, economical and versatile. It has very little strength when it is wet. If the garment label specifies “washable”, it may be washed in warm water – on the delicate cycle – and ironed if necessary.
- Spandex is used for its elasticity. It will yellow if exposed to chlorine. It is machine washable and can be tumble dried or line dried – but not in direct sunlight. It is heat sensitive.