Laundering Special Fabrics

Before washing a clothing item made of special fabric, check laundering instructions first to prevent unexpected damage to or ruin of your garment.

Managing household laundry can be strenuous enough without the added worry of caring for special fabrics. But it is important to know how to launder knits, wool, silk, and the like to avoid damage to your garments and the necessity of buying replacements. A few precautionary measures can help to protect these garments and help them last longer.

Always read laundering instructions before buying a clothing item or household linen. While you may think just about any type of fabric can be tossed in the washing machine with regular laundry that may not be the case. Know in advance how you will have to care for special fabrics before you buy them. That way, there will be no unpleasant surprises later when you have to send things to the dry cleaner or take ruined items from the dryer.

Follow laundering instructions carefully. It might be tempting at times when you are in a hurry to skip a step or do laundry as you always have. But delicate fabrics are more available today than previously, so you may not have worked much with them in the past. If you want something to last and don't want to have to replace it, look for the washing guidelines on the label. If you don't find them or aren't sure what they say, contact the manufacturer for specific information. Sometimes this can be found on the company's Website. You also might be able to ask the store associate where the item was purchased.

You may want to wash sensitive fabrics by hand or as separate loads in the delicate cycle of your washer. Silk or wool fabrics, along with certain types of blends, may require careful handling. Never assume that a garment of any type can be added to a regular washing machine load or setting. When in doubt, take the extra step of laundering it carefully.

In general, laundry that is composed of or that includes delicate fabrics should spend as little time in the washer as possible. Naturally, you want them to get clean. But the more machine agitation and hot water they are subjected to, the more potential for damage that can occur. Use appropriate settings and avoid prewash or extra rinse cycles Use a warm water rather than a hot water setting if possible.

Avoid letting special fabrics spend too much time in the dryer. Use a warm rather than hot setting for these, and don't leave them in the dryer too long. In some cases, you may prefer to use an air-dry option. It may be a good idea to remove fabrics slightly damp from the dryer and allow them to air dry completely instead, which will reduce the amount of wear and tear in the dryer and help to prevent wrinkles.

Stay away from chemical treatments of sensitive fabrics. Check washing instructions before using bleach, fabric softener, or starch, as well as any other additives you are thinking of using.

It doesn't take much extra time or effort to care for special fabrics. Doing so will help to ensure they last longer and look better than if they become part of the regular laundry.

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