In an ideal world you’d be able to throw all your clothes in the washing machine and call it a day. Unfortunately, certain fabrics require a little more attention than others. This may seem like a pain, but it will prolong the life of your special garments so you can enjoy them for longer. We’ve put together a little guide to help you!
Fabrics That Can Be Machine Washed: Acrylic, Cotton, Linen, Lycra, Nylon, Polyester, Rayon.
These are the easiest fabrics to care for, but that doesn’t mean you can mix them. Pay attention to the temperature and cycle. Acrylic, cotton knits, nylon, and rayon should be used on a delicate cycle with warm or cool water. Keep in mind to separate your cottons by weight. For example, separate light cottons like t-shirts and heavy cottons like denim. Use cold water for dark or bright colors, or to preserve energy. When washing linen, try to make your load lighter as it absorbs water more than other fabrics.
You can tumble dry acrylic, cotton, linen (though hanging white linens in the sun will preserve the color), lycra, nylon, and polyester. It’s best to use a low setting to avoid damage. Hang dry rayon as it is a more delicate fabric.
Fabrics That Should Be Hand-Washed: Silk, Lace, Velvet, Wool, Cashmere.
These fabrics are more sensitive and therefore should be hand-washed. Some washing machines come with hand-wash cycles or silk/wool cycles, but if you’re dealing with an extra special or expensive piece it’s best not to risk it. You can use a special silk/wool wash, or something mild like baby shampoo. Do not wring out cashmere as it may cause damage. You may also want to hand wash delicate nylon items, like lingerie. Hand-washing is also a good bet for items with special decorations like sequins or beads/embroidery.
Silk can be hung to dry, but knits like wool and cashmere should be laid flat on a towel so they don’t lose their shape. Dry them in a place that doesn’t have direct sunlight or heat. Note: this also applies to storing knits. Ideally, they should be folded as hanging knits can stretch them out. Knits, especially cashmere, are also sensitive to moths so try and store them somewhere safe like a wooden chest of drawers. If a knit is very expensive, you may even want to store it in a garment bag for extra protection.
Fabrics That Should Be Dry Cleaned: Leather & Suede.
Some fabrics should be left to the experts. Most machines don’t have a function for leather and suede, and hand washing may do more harm than damage. Dry cleaning can get expensive but taking them once a season should be fine. If you find a few stains in between visits, you can blot them clean with a cloth. If you’re serious about protecting your leather pieces, store them in a cotton (never plastic) garment bag.