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The Best Way to Wash Polyester Clothes

August 16, 2023

Synthetic fibers have become more and more popular over the past several years. Unlike natural materials such as cotton, these fibers are man-made through various chemical processes.

This makes them much more durable than standard fabrics. Not only that but they’re also easier to dye, which makes them a popular choice for clothing.

What Is Polyester Fabric?

how to wash polyester clothes

Polyester is a common type of synthetic fabric. Invented in the early 1940s by a group of scientists, the material is inexpensive as it is derived from plastic.

More specifically, the plastic is heated, melted, and turned into fibers by a large machine; the resulting fibers are then stretched and knitted into a synthetic fabric.

In some cases, it is incorporated with other materials such as cotton or spandex.

Pros of Polyester Garments

As with all synthetic fabrics, polyester is strong and resilient. Often used for clothing, it is flexible, easy to clean, and resistant to wrinkles.

Does polyester shrink? Not usually.

When washed, it also dries quickly, which fends off contaminants from developing. Another great thing about polyester is that it’s naturally moisture-wicking, meaning that it is able to draw moisture away from the skin.

Cons of Polyester Garments

Having said that, there are a few disadvantages to the material. For instance, it is not nearly as breathable as say, cotton.

Depending on how they’re made (some are treated with certain chemicals), they might also be flammable.

What is Polyester Typically Used For?

Polyester is used in all kinds of clothing. However, it is most commonly seen in activewear such as leggings and sports bras. Why?

The fabric directly pulls sweat away from the skin, meaning that you’ll stay dry during your workout.

How to Wash Polyester Items

Polyester might be more durable than some fabrics, however, it can still wear down in the wash. Given how pricey some activewear can be, it’s important that you take proper care of the material.

Machine Washing Instructions for Polyester Fabrics

polyester washing instructions

Polyester is generally machine washable. With that said, you should always read the care labels on the individual garments before putting them in the washer; this is especially true if you’re washing the items for the first time.

For instance, some polyester clothes may contain other fabrics that require special care (e.g. dry cleaning).

As a general rule, you always want to turn polyester clothing inside out before washing. This has to do with the way the polyester fibers are woven together, which makes it more prone to snagging.

By turning them inside out, you’ll be able to prevent them from being damaged by your other laundry.

To wash your polyester clothes, add two scoops of ACTIVE detergent into the washing machine and run a gentle cycle with warm water.

Note: Cold water can also be used to wash polyester fabrics, however, it will not be as effective at removing stains—especially grease and oil.

Take your polyester clothes out of the washer as soon as the cycle is done and let them air dry.

Can You Put Polyester Clothing Into the Dryer?

Ideally, you want to let the items air dry – that will extend the life of the polyester material. In a pinch, however, you can use the dryer.

Just be sure to use the lowest setting; the polyester fabric might be heat resistant but it can still get damaged over time.

How to Wash Polyester Garments By Hand

how to hand wash polyester clothes

Polyester fabrics can also be washed by hand. In fact, it’s much gentler on your clothes.

To start, fill a basin or sink with warm water. Pour in a small amount of ACTIVE detergent and stir to create a soapy solution.

Place the polyester items into the mixture; make sure that every piece if fully submerged in the liquid. Let them sit and soak for at least 15 minutes before washing. Avoid overloading hot water in the basin or sink as that will make it difficult to wash everything properly.

Once they’ve been soaked, wash the items gently by rubbing the polyester material against itself. Avoid twisting motions as that can deform your clothing.

Rinse the detergent out with clean water afterward. Continue doing this until the water turns clear. From there, press them against a dry towel to squeeze out extra water. Allow them to air dry.

How to Get Rid of Stains on Polyester Clothes

Polyester, like most fabrics, is prone to discoloration and stains. Fortunately, there are several things that you can do to get them looking like new again.

Using Baking Soda

Baking soda is more than just a baking ingredient—it can also be used for stain removal. For this method, you want to mix it with cold or warm water (one part baking soda to two parts warm water) to create a thin paste.

Apply some of the paste onto the stained fabric using a soft-bristled brush; for the best results, brush it onto both sides.

Let the fabric sit for at least one hour – that will give the baking soda ample time to set into the fibers. From there, you can wash the garment as normal with ACTIVE detergent.

Using White Vinegar

washing polyester with vinegar

White vinegar can also be added to your polyester clothes to remove stains. Simply create a solution by mixing 1/3 cup vinegar to 2/3 cup warm water.

Soak the garments in the mixture for at least one hour (possibly longer if it’s a stubborn spot) before washing them as normal with ACTIVE detergent.

Using Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is another one of those household products that can be used for stains—especially ink spots.

Using a sponge, blot a small amount onto the problem area; continue until the liquid is absorbed completely.

Prevent Your Polyester Clothing From Stinking & Remove Odors

It’s not uncommon for polyester clothing to develop odors as they’re less breathable than other fabrics. Don’t worry, though, there are a few things that you can do when washing polyester to prevent them from smelling icky.

Air Out Your Polyester Garments

prevent polyester odorsOne of the best ways to prevent odors is to air out your clothes. Instead of keeping them in a bag after a workout, hang them up; this will help to prevent the growth of odor-causing residues.

Don’t Leave the Items in the Washing Machine

Have you ever taken your clothes out of the washer just to realize that they smell musty? This can happen if you leave them inside the machine for too long after washing.

This happens because contaminants love and thrive in dark, wet spaces, such as the inside of your washing machine. That’s why it’s so important to take your clothes out as soon as possible after washing.

Skip the Fabric Softener

As a general rule, you never want to use fabric softener on polyester clothing. It will coat the outer surface with a wax-like substance that will prevent sweat and oils from being washed away properly.

That’s not all, it’ll also hinder its ability to pull moisture from the skin.

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Picture of Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant brings her extensive knowledge of laundry and clothing care to the masses with her intensive cleaning guides. Her thorough understanding of fabrics, detergents, and washing techniques helps readers master the art of maintaining their wardrobe. Sophia's advice ensures that anyone can achieve professional-level results at home, keeping their garments looking pristine and lasting longer.

Comment (1)

  • T Alex Reply

    Is there any potential problems if you wash 100% polyester garment with 100% cotton garment? Of course, following the “like color” rule. Thanks in advance for your comment, TD

    November 7, 2020 at 8:43 am

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