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How to Wash Polyester Clothes & Linens in Your Washing Machine

If you go to a clothing store and look at the labels of random items, we guarantee that many of them will be made of polyester material. Of course, the use of both 100% polyester and blended polyester does not stop at clothing; bedsheets, cushions, blankets and the likes are often constructed with this extremely durable fabric.

Widely preferred for its strength, easy maintenance, and resistance to wrinkling and insect damage, polyester is truly a wonderful fabric to own! Even regular washing will not wear out the material unlike some delicate fabrics. Speaking of which, machine-washing polyester is one of the easiest and most fuss-free types of materials to clean; all you need to do is follow these five steps to ensure that you are getting it right the first time around. Take a look below.

Step One: Check the Label

The first rule of washing any fabric is to check the specific cleaning instructions or washing symbols mentioned on the care tag. Although polyester is a very durable material, it is often blended with other, more delicate fabrics that require gentle cleaning methods. This is especially the case when polyester is mixed with silk, linen or other natural fibres. In fact, some clothing items that are made from blended polyester cannot be machine-washed at all; instead, their care tags will indicate a ‘dry cleaning’ method only. So, first things first, check the label for washing instructions and, if there are no specific cleaning requirements or you are dealing with 100% polyester, follow the steps below.

Step Two: Pre-Treat Stains

As resilient as polyester is, one of the drawbacks is that it can be stained quite easily. Grease and oil, in particular, absorb and settle into the fabric quickly and therefore, must be pre-treated in order to remove successfully. Prompt action is also highly recommended when attempting to get out stains from polyester fabrics; the longer the stain sits, the harder it is to remove. Use a regular laundry stain remover on polyester clothes or linens by simply following the instructions on the label. Typically, stain removers should be applied and gently rubbed into the affected area before leaving the item aside for 10-15 minutes. Thereafter, it can be machine-washed in cold or lukewarm water.

NOTE: If any part of the stain remains on the fabric, avoid putting the item in the dryer as this will cause the stain to set into the material further.

Step Three: Choose the Detergent

There are various types of laundry detergents to choose from, many of which are specially formulated for certain fabrics and/or clothing items such as delicates. Fortunately, polyester is a resilient material that does not need a specific detergent powder or liquid; you can use any normal laundry soap when machine-washing polyester fabrics. With that said, we do advise steering clear of strong stain removers that are intended to deeply penetrate fabrics for old or severe stains. This is because, generally, such detergents contain harsh chemicals which can damage polyester fibres by way of fading and weakening the material overtime. 

Step Four: Wash in Cold or Tepid Water

One of the most important things to remember when washing polyester is to use cold or lukewarm water. This is because high heat causes the fibres to weaken which, in turn, leads to visible damage. It should also be noted that, unlike 100% polyester, coloured blended fabrics are not all colourfast and therefore, must be washed in the appropriate water temperature as per their cleaning instructions on the tag, as well as separated from whites and light colours. Nevertheless, as a rule of thumb, always stick to cool or tepid water when washing polyester clothes in your washing machine.

Step Five: Dry & Store

There are two ways you can dry polyester after washing it in the machine – in the dryer or hung on a clothes rack. Where the former is concerned, as we mentioned earlier, polyester is susceptible to high temperatures and therefore, must only be dried on low heat. If your dryer does not have a low-heat setting, we recommend hanging the washed items on a rack instead. Polyester is prone to shrinking when introduced to high heat so it is best not to risk putting the fabric in the dryer. Always make sure that the material is completely dry before storing as even a small amount of dampness can cause mould and mildew development.

Tips to Keep Polyester Looking As Good As New

Timely washing of the fabric will keep polyester items looking clean and well maintained; however, if you really want them to retain their original softness and fresh appearance, use the tips below.

  • Pre-soak white polyester in warm water and oxygen bleach for 1-2 hours before machine-washing
  • Be careful when ironing delicate fabric like polyester
  • Keep static at bay with fabric softener dryer sheets
  • If the fabric gets wrinkled, steam is always the best and safest way to smoothen it out
  • Pre-treat stains (even mild stains) to safely and effectively remove them

The ultimate tip for best results, of course, is to follow Maid For You’s a step-by-step guide to washing polyester in your washing machine! If you would prefer to hand-wash delicate polyester items, do so using mild laundry detergent and pay heed to information shared in this article to avoid damaging the fabric.

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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