Fabric Care Guide: How to Care for the Most Common Fabrics in your Wardrobe

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Our wardrobe is full of clothes made of different fabrics - natural or synthetic or mixed.

Sometimes a piece of clothing shrinks in the wash, sometimes it bleeds color. It can be your absolute favorite piece of clothing. It can be an investment piece which you saved up for - finally bought it - loved wearing it - and now it's ruined.

It's absolutely disheartening!

Well, it has happened to the best of us.

We want to make sure we take the best possible care of our clothing. Here, we dive into the most common fabrics - and learn to care for them - fabric by fabric - so the garment lasts longer and possibly - a lifetime.

 Fabric Care 101

First and foremost - follow the Care Label on your garment. That is your best guide and as best practice should be your main reference point.

It was made specifically for that garment. It is there for a reason. 

It is a short guide made by the manufacturer - a set of instructions to follow.

But, what do all those symbols mean?

 
 Care Label

How to Read the Care Label

Fabric care starts with the care label or care tag. A care label would usually contain details regarding washing, bleaching, drying, ironing and dry cleaning. It is always advisable to follow the care label as it contains exact care instructions for the garment. Watch this video and learn how to read the care label & the clothing care symbols.


So, now we know about all those symbols and their meaning.

But, maybe your garment does not have a care label or it has been damaged or does not have all the details regarding fabric care as mentioned above.

Then, what to do?

Well, that's where this guide comes in.

We have covered the most common Natural & Synthetic fabrics. The ones, we get the most questions about.

Just follow their respective general guidelines and it will help your fabric last longer.

Note: If your garment is a mix of 2 or more fabrics - always follow the instructions for the more sensitive fabric.


Natural Fabric Care

Natural fabrics are derived from the fibre of animal hides, plant seeds, stems and leaves, and silkworm cocoons. They are soft, breathable and UV light does not cause discoloration.

Below you can find the most common natural fabrics - watch their basic characteristics & how-to care guide. Every guide contains the necessary care instructions for washing, drying and ironing as well as important points to remember.


COTTON

Basic characteristics of Cotton:

  • Cool, Soft & Comfortable
  • Absorption & release of perspiration is quick
  • Durable
  • Gets wrinkled easily

Care Instructions:

Washing - Cotton is machine washable and it is advised to use warm water.
Drying - Cotton clothing should be hang dried. High setting on Dryer can also be used.
Ironing - Use iron on high temperature.

While taking care of cotton fabric, it is important to note:

  • Don't use bleach unless the garment is white
  • Avoid over bleaching as it can cause damage or yellowing

DENIM

Basic characteristics of Denim:

  • Made from tightly woven cotton
  • Absorbs & releases perspiration quickly
  • Highly durable
  • Breathable

Care Instructions:

  • Washing - Denim is machine washable and it is advised to use warm water (Turn inside out, to keep color from fading).
  • Drying - Denim clothing should be hang dried or laid flat to dry.
  • Ironing - Use iron on high temperature.

While taking care of denim fabric, it is important to note:

  • Don't use bleach
  • Avoid using the dryer

LEATHER

Basic characteristics of Leather:

  • Commonly made from cow, pig or lamb hide
  • Chemicals are required to cure it
  • Durable
  • Repels liquids and stains
  • Flexible
  • Absorbs & releases perspiration quickly
  • Fire resistant

Care Instructions:

  • Washing - Leather is machine washable in cold water and one should use special care like using castile soap.
  • Drying - Leather clothing should be hang dried.
  • Ironing - Iron on lowest temperature and don't use steam. Cover with heavy paper while pressing.

While taking care of leather fabric, it is important to note:

  • Don't wash bright colors (go to professional cleaners)
  • Avoid washing leather which has delicate seams
  • Avoid excessive heat and humidity

SILK

Basic characteristics of Silk:

  • Soft, comfortable & versatile
  • Strongest natural fibre
  • Drapes well & retains shape
  • Weakened by sunlight and perspiration
  • Absorbs & releases perspiration quickly
  • Can be dyed easily

Care Instructions:

  • Washing - Silk is machine washable on delicate cycle but it is recommended to hand wash in lukewarm water.
  • Drying - Silk clothing should be hanged to dry or laid flat to dry. Do not wring.
  • Ironing - Iron on low temperature and press inside out.

While taking care of silk fabric, it is important to note:

  • Don't use bleach
  • Don't use dryer
  • Avoid high temperatures and direct sunlight

LINEN

Basic characteristics of Linen:

  • It is woven from the stems of Flax
  • 2x stronger than cotton
  • Lightweight
  • Does not stretch
  • Absorbs & releases perspiration quickly
  • Gets wrinkled easily

Care Instructions:

  • Washing - Linen should be dry cleaned or hand washed in lukewarm water.
  • Drying - Linen clothing should be hang dried or machine dried on low.
  • Ironing - Iron on medium temperature and use a press cloth between garment and iron. Also, turn the fabric inside out and iron when its damp.

While taking care of linen fabric, it is important to note:

  • Don't use bleach (unless garment is white)
  • Over bleaching can cause damage or yellowing

WOOL

Basic characteristics of Wool:

  • Absorbs 30% of its weight in moisture without feeling damp
  • Stronger when dry
  • Available in many varieties from scratchy to extremely soft
  • Flame and dirt resistant
  • Absorbs & releases moisture quickly
  • Acts as an insulator

Care Instructions:

  • Washing - Wool should be dry cleaned (only some wools are washable).
  • Drying - Wool clothing should be laid flat to dry. Rolling it with a towel to squeeze excess water is advisable.
  • Ironing - Iron on low temperature & steam. Turn fabric inside out to avoid iron marks and shine.

While taking care of wool fabric, it is important to note:

  • Does not need washing after every wear
  • Soak in cold water for a few hours before washing
  • Don't rub the wool against itself

HEMP

Basic characteristics of Hemp:

  • Woven of fibres from the stems of Cannabis Sativa plant
  • 3x stronger than cotton
  • Similar to linen in feel and appearance
  • Resistant to UV rays, mold, mildew and rot
  • Gets wrinkled easily
  • Absorbs and releases perspiration quickly
  • Can be easily dyed

Care Instructions:

  • Washing - Hemp is machine washable in cold water.
  • Drying - Hemp clothing should be hang or flat dried. Dryer on low can also be used.
  • Ironing - Iron on high temperature when fabric is still damp.
     

While taking care of hemp fabric, it is important to note:

  • Don't use chlorinated bleach
  • Over drying in dryer will result in broken fibres
  • Stretch the fabric when hang/flat drying to avoid wrinkles

VELVET

Basic characteristics of Velvet:

  • Not a fabric but a structure of fabric
  • Made from cotton, silk or rayon
  • Durable, thick, plush & warm
  • Short fuzzy surface
     

Care Instructions:

  • Washing - Velvet should be dry cleaned in most cases. Cotton based velvet can be hand washed in cold water.
  • Drying - Velvet clothing should be hanged to dry on a padded, soft hanger.
  • Ironing - Use a steamer.
     

While taking care of velvet fabric, it is important to note:

  • Always better to dry clean
  • Do not hang dry on line
  • Never use a dryer

TERRY

Basic characteristics of Terry:

  • Not a fabric but a structure of fabric
  • Made from cotton or linen
  • Woven or Knitted
  • Heavy, thick and absorbent
  • Mainly used for towels
     

Care Instructions:

  • Washing - Cotton terry can be machine washed in warm water. Linen terry should be dry cleaned or hand washed in lukewarm water.
  • Drying - Cotton terry and linen terry both should be hang dried.
  • Ironing - Not needed.
     

While taking care of terry fabric, it is important to note:

  • Use of bleach is not recommended
  • If a thread is pulled out, just cut it off
  • To reduce shrinkage, stretch borders in wet or dry form

SEErsucker

Basic characteristics of Seersucker:

  • Not a fabric but a structure of fabric
  • Made from cotton (also rayon and other synthetics)
  • Breathable and cool in summer
  • Puckered
     

Care Instructions:

  • Washing - Seersucker is machine washable in cold water.
  • Drying - Seersucker clothing should be hang dried or machine dried on medium.
  • Ironing - Not needed.
     

While taking care of seersucker fabric, it is important to note:

  • Bleach can cause yellowing in dyed seersucker
  • Follow care label for non-cotton seersucker

FLANNEL

Basic characteristics of Flannel:

  • Not a fabric but a structure of fabric
  • Made from cotton or wool
  • Durable
  • Absorbs and releases perspiration quickly
  • Soft
  • Thicker and more insulated
     

Care Instructions:

  • Washing - Cotton flannel is machine washable in warm water. Wool flannel should be dry cleaned in most cases although some washable wools do exist.
  • Drying - Cotton flannel and wool flannel should be hang dried or machine dried on low.
  • Ironing - Iron on high temperature for cotton flannel. For wool flannel use low temperature and steam (turn inside out to avoid iron marks & shine).
     

While taking care of flannel fabric, it is important to note:

  • Wool flannel does not need wash after every wear
  • Do not over dry (if using dryer)
  • Empty lint trap in the dryer after each load

synthetic fabric care

Synthetic fabrics are man-made, artificial fibre which are combined with chemicals that gives them several additional qualities such as flame & water resistance, increased durability etc.

Below you can find the most common synthetic fabrics - watch their basic characteristics & how-to care guide. Every guide contains the necessary care instructions for washing, drying and ironing as well as important points to remember.


acetate

Basic characteristics of Acetate:

  • Soft & crisp
  • Varieties of colors, dyes and prints
  • Shrink, moth and mildew resistant
  • Low moisture absorbency
  • Fast drying
     

Care Instructions:

  • Washing - Acetate should be dry cleaned in most cases. If indicated, hand wash in warm water.
  • Drying - Acetate clothing should be hanged or laid flat to dry.
  • Ironing - Iron on low temperature and no steam. Press while damp with cool iron on the wrong side. Turn inside out, to avoid iron marks and shine.
     

While taking care of acetate fabric, it is important to note:

  • Don't use dryer
  • Don't use starch or fabric conditioner

acrylic

Basic characteristics of Acrylic:

  • Soft, warm and lightweight
  • Retains shape and resists shrinkage and wrinkles
  • Dyes to bright colors
  • Resistant to sunlight, moths, oils & chemicals
  • Absorbs and releases moisture quickly
  • Holds pleats
     

Care Instructions:

  • Washing - Acrylic is machine washable in warm water.
  • Drying - Acrylic clothing should be laid flat to dry. Put it on a dry towel and let it air dry.
  • Ironing - Turn fabric inside out and iron on low temperature.
     

While taking care of acrylic fabric, it is important to note:

  • If the item feels delicate, hand wash it
  • Reshape the item to its original shape before drying
  • Don't wring

nylon

Basic characteristics of Nylon:

  • Strong
  • Lightweight
  • Stretchable and durable
  • Dries quickly
  • Resistant to chemicals and abrasion
  • Does not absorb moisture well
     

Care Instructions:

  • Washing - Nylon is machine washable in warm water.
  • Drying - Nylon clothing should be hang dried or machine dried on low.
  • Ironing - Iron on low to medium temperature and steam.
     

While taking care of nylon fabric, it is important to note:

  • Don't use bleach
  • Remove from dryer quickly
  • Avoid high temperatures

polyester

Basic characteristics of Polyester:

  • Strong
  • Does not wrinkle
  • Stretchable and durable
  • Dries quickly
  • Does not absorb moisture well
     

Care Instructions:

  • Washing - Polyester is machine washable in warm water.
  • Drying - Polyester clothing should be hang dried or machine dried on low.
  • Ironing - Iron on low to medium temperature and steam.
     

While taking care of polyester fabric, it is important to note:

  • Don't use bleach
  • Avoid high temperatures

spandex

Basic characteristics of Spandex:

  • Elastic type fibre
  • Can be stretched and returns to its original shape
  • Lightweight and strong
  • Resistant to abrasion from body oils, detergents and sweat
     

Care Instructions:

  • Washing - Spandex is machine washable in cold water.
  • Drying - Spandex clothing should be hang dried or machine dried on low.
  • Ironing - Iron on low temperature.
     

While taking care of spandex fabric, it is important to note:

  • Don't use bleach
  • Avoid use fabric conditioner

rayon

Basic characteristics of Rayon:

  • Strong
  • Extremely absorbent
  • Soft and comfortable
  • Made in varieties of qualities and weights
  • Wrinkles easily
     

Care Instructions:

  • Washing - Rayon should mostly be dry cleaned. It can be machine washed in cold water.
  • Drying - Rayon clothing should be hang dried or laid flat to dry.
  • Ironing - Turn inside out while slightly damp and iron on low to medium temperature.
     

While taking care of rayon fabric, it is important to note:

  • Don't use bleach
  • Don't use dryer
  • Avoid high temperatures

This concludes our guide - it can be used as a reference point anytime you need help with your garment care.

Let us know, if you have any questions.

Happy Cleaning!