Polyester, rayon, nylon… You hear these words all the time and see them on the labels of your clothes, but what do they mean? Read here for a basic run-down on what these fabrics are and how you should wash and dry them to keep them in top condition!
**Always make sure to refer to the sewn-in label on garments for specific instructions.
Nylon is a man-made fiber that is resilient and versatile. It is light but strong, and is used for a variety of materials, including hosiery, bridal veils, carpets, and tents. Clothing made from this fabric dry quickly and easily return to their original shape after being stretched out.
- TO WASH: Most nylon pieces can be machine washed in warm water. It is recommended that you put hosiery in a mesh bag when washing to reduce chances of stretching or tearing.
- TO DRY: Tumble dry on low and use fabric softener or a dryer sheet to reduce static electricity. If your piece needs to be ironed, use a low temperature setting.
Rayon is a cellulose fiber made from the purified cellulose of wood pulp. It is considered a semi-synthetic fiber because it is manufactured from naturally occurring materials. The qualities of rayon are similar to that of cotton, but is not quite as sturdy. It loses strength when wet and burns as high temperatures. Rayon is absorbent, soft, silky, and wrinkles easily. Rayon is also prone to stretching when wet and shrinking when washed.
- TO WASH: Unless labeled that it is machine washable, rayon should be hand-washed in lukewarm water with a light detergent. Never twist or bunch up the garment, as it could be damaged. If you do machine wash it, use warm water and wash it alone or in a mesh bag.
- TO DRY: Smooth out any wrinkles or shake the garment out before laying it on a flat surface to dry. If hung, use a non-metal hanger to avoid rust spots. When ironing rayon, do so while it is inside-out and damp, using a pressing cloth and a low heat setting.
Polyester is a strong synthetic material that is used in a variety of items, from clothing to pillow stuffing to seatbelts and finish on some wood products. It is resistant to creasing and is nonabsorbent, though it does hold oil stains. Polyester is often used in blends with other fabrics.
- TO WASH: Polyester fabrics should be turned inside-out before machine washing on warm with a standard detergent. **Bleach may be too harsh for polyester materials. Instead, soak white pieces in a mixture of one gallon of water and ½ cup of automatic dishwasher detergent overnight to brighten them.
- TO DRY: Polyester can be machine dried on a low temperature setting. Be careful of over-drying, as this may cause the garment to shrink. A dryer sheet or fabric softener (during wash) will reduce static cling. If ironing, use a moderately warm setting.
Spandex is a man-made fiber known most for its sturdy elasticity. It is always blended with other fabrics and has many different uses in apparel. Spandex is very resistant to sun damage, washing, oils and perspiration, and heat.
- TO WASH: Spandex can be hand-washed or machine-washed in lukewarm water with a standard detergent.
- TO DRY: Machine dry using low heat or line-dry. If ironing is necessary, do so rapidly on a low heat setting and do not leave the iron sitting in one place for too long.
Cotton is a natural fiber that comes from the seed pod of a cotton plant. It is a very common, sturdy fabric that can withstand high temperatures and is very absorbent. It may wrinkle easily.
- TO WASH: Cotton can easily be machine washed on warm with a standard detergent.
- TO DRY: A higher heat setting should be used when machine drying cotton. It can also be ironed on a high heat setting.
For more about fabric care, check out these sites:
Fabric Care Symbols. You see them on the tags of all of your clothing, but what do those little symbols mean? Here's a handy chart to help you sort out the proper care of your garments!