How to Wash 6 Types of Summer Fabrics

Perrie Samotin
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There always seem to be a massive amount of mystery surrounding how to properly wash clothing? Use the machine, don’t use the machine, wash by hand, don’t ever wash at all—it’s seriously confusing. And it’s made even more so when some of our favorite summer pieces like cotton dresses, linen pants, and silky camis list different cleaning methods on labels.

MORE: How to (Really) Wash a Bathing Suit

In the interest of effectively prolonging the life of your summer clothes—especially as we prepare to pack them away to make room for our fall stuff—we’ve compiled a handy guide packed with tips including how to wash common seasonal fabrics like cotton, linen, rayon, and more, when you should be washing them, and how to fold or hang them like a pro. Consider this your ultimate source for keeping your summer threads looking crisp for seasons to come!

COTTON

  • Cotton is super-durable, so garments can be washed in the machine with any detergent, and bleach can be used as needed.
  • For best results, machine wash cotton items in warm water on a normal cycle.
  • Tumble dry on low setting.
  • If your cotton is white, you can wash it with bleach on a hot water setting.
  • When to keep cotton towels, robes, and washcloths fluffy, use half the amount of detergent and run them through an extra rinse cycle (detergent residue can diminish softness).
  • Cotton wrinkles easily but can be ironed on the highest heat level.
how to wash care for summer clothes

Photo: Jenny Norris

LINEN

  • Despite common belief, linen actually fares better when washed by hand or in the machine than with dry cleaning, and it becomes softer with each washing.
  • Linen is best washed in tepid or cold, and preferably soft, water.
  • Gentle wash cycles and super-mild soaps are best for linen.
  • Feel free to pop your linen clothing into the dryer on low, but take them out when still slightly damp: Overdrying can make the fabric stiff.
  • Lay flat or hang to dry.
  • Thin linen wrinkles fairly easily which adds to it’s look, but if your pieces are insanely creased, iron on low while the clothes are still damp.

VISCOSE/RAYON

  • Viscose has a silky appearance and feel, it breathes like cotton, can be easily draped, and it’s lightweight. However, it wrinkles very easily, so it’s advised to use an iron’s medium setting with steam.
  • If the garment is particularly special or has intricate draping, hand-washing is suggested in cool to lukewarm water.
  • Hang wet items totally wet (no wringing or twisting!) as this will help remove creasing and ensure the garment doesn’t lose its shape.

 

how to wash summer clothes

Photo: Sincerely Jules

POLYESTER

  • Most polyester and can be easily machine washed and dryed in warm water, with added fabric softener because polyester is prone to static cling. Certain poly-blends need to be dry cleaned, so always check the tag.
  • Dry the garment on a low temperature and use a moderately warm iron if needed.
  • Polyester is easy to care for, but locks stain. To life a stain, rub stain remover on the area and allow it to sit for 10 to 20 minutes before laundering.
  • If the stained garment is white, consider soaking the fabric for 24 hours in a gallon of water and 1/3 cup of automatic dishwashing soap before throwing it in the machine.

WORKOUT CLOTHES

  • After working out, always shake two or three tablespoons of baking soda into each sneaker, as this eats up excess moisture and odor.
  • Vigorous exercisers should replace workout sneakers every three to six months.
  • If your gear is super-sweaty, wash them immediately after wearing. If you don’t have a machine nearby, hand wash them to stop stains and smells from setting.
  • Always hang sweaty workout clothes up if you can’t wash them stat, as opposed to bunching them up and tossing them in the hamper, which only creates mildew.
  • For sports bras and clothes that still retain the scent of perspiration, soak them in the sink with either one part vinegar to four parts water, or a quarter cup of Borax mixed with water. Let them sit for an hour before running them through the wash.
  • It’s fine to machine-wash technical workout clothes, but do it in cold water with a little extra detergent.
  • Air-drying spandex and lycra workout clothes maintains elasticity, but if you decide to use a dryer, make sure it’s on the lowest setting.
how to wash care for summer clothes

Photo: Fashion Vibe

SILK

  • While dry-cleaning is fine for basic silk pieces, it’s even better to hand wash them in order to keep them in good shape.
    Handwash silk in cool or lukewarm water using a tiny bit of mild detergent such as Woolite, Ivory soap, or shampoo dissolved in water.
  • Like most natural fibers, silk doesn’t tolerate changes in temperature, so stick with either cool or warm water the whole way through.
  • Never wring out silk to dry! Instead roll the item up in a towel and gently press the water out.
  • Wash items labeled “washable silk” (underwear, tank tops, etc) in the washing machine on the gentle cycle in a mesh bag. Hang dry on a padded hanger.
  • To prevent color loss and to keep silk in good condition, add up to three tablespoons of white vinegar for every two quarts of water.
  • Silk should be pressed while it’s still damp. Iron on a low setting and don’t use steam, which can leave watermarks.
  • Always store silk in a dry dark place, and never keep in it in plastic since the fabric needs to breathe.

 

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