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How to wash polyester: a complete guide

Read on to discover answers to the most frequently asked questions about washing polyester.


By Cleanipedia Team

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Key steps

  • Always check the care label.
  • Use a low heat, gentle cycle on your washing machine.
  • Use good quality detergent and fabric conditioner.
  • Tumble dry on a low, quick cycle or air-dry.
  • Hand wash to prolong the life of 100% polyester pieces.
  • Use vinegar to bring back brightness to white polyester.

Polyester is a very common fabric and most people will have polyester clothes in their wardrobe. This means there are a variety of questions on the process of washing, drying, and ironing polyester. We’re here to provide answers to some of the most common ones and show you how to wash polyester with ease.

When washing polyester by hand or machine, use a good quality all-purpose detergent like Persil alongside a gentle fabric conditioner such as Comfort.

How to wash polyester: FAQs answered

When it comes to washing polyester, there are a few things you need to know, so here are some of the most frequently asked questions to provide you with a complete guide to how to wash polyester.

1.     How do I know how to wash my polyester? The most important step when it comes to cleaning polyester is to check the care label. This will provide you with individual guides to each item, which is especially helpful for items which are not 100% polyester.

2.     Can you wash polyester in the washing machine? It is safe to wash most polyester garments in the washing machine, but take care to note the following:

  • Use warm water, not hot.
  • Make sure you wash on a gentle cycle.
  • Use a good quality all-purpose detergent like Persil.
  • Ensure you have a good quality fabric conditioner such as Comfort in the wash to reduce static electricity.
  • If you want to preserve the longevity of your 100% polyester clothing, it is always best to handwash.

3.     How can I handwash polyester? There are five easy steps to hand wash your polyester:

  • Soak the polyester clothing in a bowl of warm water and detergent.
  • Use your hand to swirl them around the bowl.
  • Use cold water to rinse away all traces of detergent.
  •  Fold the garment and press it gently against the side of the bowl to remoove any excess water.
  • Hang up to air-dry.

4.     Does polyester shrink in the wash? As a general rule polyester will not shrink as it is a synthetic fabric. However, with prolonged exposure to excessive heat, it can gradually shrink over time. Clothes may also be prone to shrinking if they are not 100% polyester but are instead mixed with a natural fibre such as wool.

5.     Can you tumble-dry polyester clothing? Whilst it is safe to tumble-dry polyester, if you don’t want your polyester to shrink over time, it’s important to use a low-heat, gentle, short cycle. It is better to allow it to air-dry instead (and polyester tends to air-dry quickly).

6.     My white polyester has lost its brightness, can I make it white again? If you want to return white polyester to bright white, there are two steps to follow:

  • Soak your polyester overnight in a bowl with a mix of warm water and washing up liquid.
  • Wash as normal, but add a 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the drum with your laundry.

7.     Can I iron polyester clothing? Most polyester clothing can be pressed, however you need to make sure that you use a low heat, or a steam iron.

Now you know how to wash polyester and have all the important questions answered, why not check out our other care guides? Click here to find out how to care for rayon clothing, or click here to find out how to wash wool.

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Originally published