How to Wash Polyester: Caring for Synthetic Fabrics
Polyester is one of the most ubiquitous clothing materials thanks to qualities like durability, affordability and ease of care. But what is the best way to wash polyester? While polyester itself is quite hardy, aspects like dyes, construction and fabric blends impact how it should be cleaned. Read on for specialized polyester washing methods.
What is Polyester?
First, let’s review what defines this prevalent synthetic fabric:
A Manufactured Polymer
Polyester is a plastic-based polymer made from combining PET monomers in a chemical reaction. The long chain molecules form strong, stable fibers.
Mass Produced Cheaply
Unlike natural fabrics, polyester can be cheaply mass produced in factories with precise specifications, keeping costs low.
Wrinkle and Shrink Resistant
The molecular structure resists wrinkling and heat shrinkage, maintaining shape through repeated use and washing.
Durable and Quick Drying
Polyester is also abrasion resistant and quick drying, making it ideal for performance athleticwear.
Versatile Fiber Blends
Polyester can be blended with cotton, modal, spandex and more to create fabrics with combined benefits.
Used for Many Fabrics
From fleece to satin, polyester’s versatility allows it to be woven into many textiles with customized properties.
Thanks to its practical qualities, polyester works across many clothing types.
Is Polyester Machine Washable?
Polyester can generally handle home laundering well. However, take these precautions:
Wash in cold water – Hot water risks shrinkage of blended fabrics
Use gentle cycle – Harsh agitation can cause pilling and abrasion
Reduce drying heat – High temps increase chances of shrinking, and melted synthetics
Skip the dryer sheets – Polyester doesn’t absorb fabric softeners well anyway
Remove promptly – Prevent wrinkles from setting by promptly folding or hanging
Watch fugitive dyes – Some polyester prints and bright colors bleed more than others
With proper temperature and handling, polyester can be conveniently machine washed.
Washing Polyester Blend Fabrics
For polyester blended with natural fibers, make these adjustments:
Wash in warm or cool water. Hot water causes cotton to shrink but polyester to remain unchanged, skewing fabric shape.
Use cool water and gentle cycle. Agitation can felt wool fibers while polyester withstands rougher handling.
Choose a gentle cycle and mild detergent. Silk fibers require delicacy while polyester is more rugged.
Skip the dryer, air dry instead. Heat deteriorates spandex elasticity over time while polyester retains shape.
Line dry or dry on low. High heat shrinks linen but poly maintains fit. Shake out wrinkles promptly.
When blended, Polyester’s washing needs change based on the companion fiber properties.
Special Cases for Polyester Care
Certain polyester items require extra modifications:
Outdoor Performance Wear
Use specialty sport detergents. General cleaners strip water resistance treatments. Air dry instead of machine drying.
Fleece and Pile Fabrics
Skip fabric softener. It reduces the fluffiness of polyester fleece over time. Use tennis balls in the dryer to prevent pilling.
Spandex Workout Wear
Wash after every wear. Sweat and oils degrade spandex quickly. Use cold water. Line dry or dry on very low heat.
Waterproof and Coated Fabrics
Spot clean only to avoid stripping waterproof coatings. Re-apply DWR spray after washing if needed.
Down and Feather Filled Items
Dry clean professionally. Home washing can strip oils from feathers causing them to clump. Detergents remove loft.
Double check care requirements for polyester used in specialty textiles.
Removing Stains on Polyester
Polyester resists staining, but oil-based stains require some extra steps:
Dish soap helps cut oily food stains – massage into stain before washing
Hairspray dissolves ink and permanent marker – let sit before rinsing
Baking soda paste lifts perspiration stains and yellowing – rub gently and rinse
White vinegar or ammonia removes coffee and tea stains
Rubbing alcohol dissolves cosmetics and lipstick stains
Oxyclean spray helps lift many set-in oil-based stains on polyester
Tackle stains promptly before washing using targeted stain removal methods.
Drying Polyester Clothing
Polyester itself dries quickly and resists wrinkles. But take these extra steps:
Thoroughly shake items before drying to prevent knotting and tangling which leads to pilling.
Reduce dryer heat settings since polyester doesn’t require high heat to dry. Prevent over-drying.
Take clothes out immediately when cycle finishes so wrinkles don’t set if left sitting.
Hang Heavy Items
The weight of heavy garments like coats can cause weird creases if machine dried – hang these instead.
Blends with silk, wool, spandex still require air drying or low heat to avoid damage to companion fibers.
Steam as Needed
For serious wrinkling, a short blast of the steamer helps relax fibers.