how to wash different fabrics

How to Wash Different Fabrics

Not all fabrics require the same types of care when it comes to cleaning, which is why it’s important that you know how to wash different fabrics—especially those that are most delicate.

Properly caring for your fabrics is key if you want to get as much use as possible out of your garments and linens. And because you can’t just throw everything in the washing machine and call it a day, we put together this quick guide on how to clean different types of fabric, including how to wash delicate clothes.

What Are Delicates?

First, the basics: namely, what are delicates, and why do they require different standards of care?

Most delicate fabrics tend to share a few distinct qualities:

  • They’re light in weight
  • They’re pliable
  • They’re flexible

All of these features mean that delicates are also more prone to damage than other fabrics. Some of the most common delicate fabrics include silk, chiffon, lace, suede and leather, knits, and anything netted or sheer.

Quick tip: It’s usually best to have your delicates professionally dry cleaned, but if you need to spot clean a delicate fabric we recommend applying a gentle stain remover and then soaking and hand cleaning in cold water. Hang to dry.

What Does “Dry Clean Only” Mean?

Confusion tends to come into play when trying to distinguish the difference between “dry clean” and “dry clean only.” So what’s the difference? “Dry clean” means that dry cleaning is the preferred method, but that you can handwash the item at home if need be. “Dry clean only” means you must take the garment to a professional to have it cleaned, since doing so at home could cause damage.

what does dry clean only mean

Clean Different Kinds of Fabric

How you clean your garments and linens depends on the kinds of fabric that you’re working with. Follow the handy guide below to make sure you do it right.

Acetate

Dry clean only? No, but you should hand wash acetate.

Warm or cold water? Cold water.

Heated dry? No, hang to dry.

Acrylic

Dry clean only? No, though it may be mixed with other fabrics that are, so check the label.

Warm or cold water? Warm.

Heated dry? No, hang to dry.

Cashmere

Dry clean only? Sometimes, so check the label. Otherwise hand wash.

Warm or cold water? Cold.

Heated dry? No, lay flat to dry.

Cotton Dry clean only? No. Warm or cold water? Start with cold until you know garment will not shrink; then you can clean warm or hot. Heated dry? Yes, but keep heat low to prevent shrinkage.
Leather & Suede Dry clean only? For a complete clean, yes. Warm or cold water? Warm water for spot cleaning. Heated dry? No, hang to dry.
Linen Dry clean only? Sometimes, so check the label. Warm or cold water? Cold. Heated dry? No, hang to dry.
Nylon Dry clean only? No. Warm or cold water? Either (but use cold for white nylon). Heated dry? Yes, but keep heat low to prevent shrinkage.
Polyester Dry clean only? No. Warm or cold water? Warm. Heated dry? Yes, but keep heat low. Hang dry if you’re worried about shrinkage.
Silk Dry clean only? Sometimes, so check the label. Otherwise hand wash. Warm or cold water? Cold.  Heated dry? No, hang to dry.
Spandex Dry clean only? No. Warm or cold water? Cold. Heated dry? Sometimes, so check the label. If using a dryer, keep the heat low.
Viscose (Rayon) Dry clean only? Yes Warm or cold water? Spot clean in cold water. Heated dry? No, hang to dry.
Wool Dry clean only? Sometimes, so check the label. Otherwise hand wash. Warm or cold water? Warm. Heated dry? No, hang to dry.

Trust Your Delicates to Cameo Cleaners

You’re almost always better safe than sorry when it comes to cleaning your most fragile garments and linens. By trusting the professionals you won’t leave anything to chance, and at Cameo Cleaners, we have more than 50 years of experience taking care of precious items. Schedule a pick-up and let us handle all of your dry cleaning needs!

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