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How to wash polyester: a complete guide

Found yourself wondering how to wash polyester and dry it after? Read on to discover answers to the most frequently asked questions about washing polyester.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

By Cleanipedia Team

A rack of women's tops hanging from wooden hangers in front of a yellow background

Polyester is a very common fabric and most people will have everything from polyester clothes in their wardrobe to pillow cases on their bed. 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, always use a good quality all-purpose detergent alongside a gentle fabric conditioner for the best results.

How to wash polyester: FAQs answered

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

  1. Can you wash polyester the same way as other clothing? The most important step is to check the care label. This will provide you with individual guides to each item, from what setting to wash polyester on in the washing machine to times you need to hand wash polyester. This is especially helpful for items which are not 100% polyester.

  2. Can you machine wash polyester? As long as you have checked the care label, it's safe to wash most polyester garments in the washing machine. If you have a polyester washing machine setting use it, otherwise ensure you stick to warm or cool water on a gentle cycle.

  3. Can I use fabric conditioner? We actually recommend you definitely do. Fabric conditioner will help to reduce static electricity as your polyester garments wash. For the best results when washing polyester follow these steps:

    • 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.

    • If you want to preserve the longevity of your 100% polyester clothing, it is always best to handwash.

  4. How can I hand wash polyester? Hand washing polyester is easier than you think following these simple steps:

    • You start by soaking your polyester clothing in a bowl of warm water and detergent.

    • Next, use your hand to swirl them around the bowl, before using cold water to rinse them out.

    • Take care to ensure all traces of detergent have been removed.

    • Fold the garment and press it gently against the side of the bowl to remove any excess water, and then hang it out to air-dry.

  5. 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.

  6. 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).

  7. My white polyester has lost its brightness, can I make it white again? Returning white polyester to bright white is simple.

    • Try first soaking your polyester overnight in a bowl with a mix of warm water and washing up liquid.

    • You can also add a 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the drum when machine washing your laundry.

  8. 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.

With our simple answers to the most frequently asked questions about washing polyester, you can be sure to take the best care of all the polyester material in your home from clothes to bed linen. We all know polyester can shrink without the proper care, and now that is something you don't need to worry about.

Now you know how to wash polyester you may be wondering about how to care for specialised fabrics. Why not check out our comprehensive guides for how to care for rayon clothing, how to wash wool, and also how to wash linen.

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