How to Wash Polyester and Keep It Looking New

Published July 14, 2020
Young woman at a laundromat

Learn how to wash polyester because with a little care, you can keep it looking new. Polyester doesn't wrinkle and tends to retain its shape and form.

How to Wash Polyester in the Washing Machine

Before you start washing polyester garments, you want to turn them inside out. Polyester has very fine synthetic fibers that can be easily snagged. By turning your garment inside out, you can protect the fabric from possible snags caused by buttons, hooks, zippers, and various trimmings.

Can You Machine Wash Polyester?

Yes, you can wash polyester in a washing machine. You want to use warm water. The average detergent isn't too harsh for polyester. You shouldn't use enhanced detergents created for tough stains or deep stains. This type of detergent can damage polyester fibers.

Warm Washing Machine Temperature Setting for Polyester

Do not use hot water settings. Warm water is sufficient for cleaning polyester. In fact, constant heat can break down the fabric. Unless the care label states otherwise, you should use a warm water setting. Warm water is best for the fibers of polyester to avoid shrinkage and colors running.

Temperature knob in the washing machine

Can You Wash Polyester in Cold Water?

Yes, you can always wash clothes in a cold-water setting. However, cold water might not provide enough heat for the detergent to do its job. Cold water is effective to clean the material but it might not be effective on oily stains.

Permanent Press Settings

It's typically recommended that you use a permanent press setting for your washing machine. This setting allows the slower spin cycle that prevents wrinkling and prolongs the life of your garments. This is especially important for frequently washed garments.

Dryer Settings for Polyester

If you place a polyester garment in a dryer for an extended period on a high temperature, the fabric may have a slight shrinkage. However, since polyester is a synthetic fiber, shrinkage isn't a concern like it would be with a natural fiber like cotton or linen.

How to Prevent Static Electricity

As with most synthetic fabric, polyester will create static electricity when placed in a dryer because they rub against each other. You can lessen this effect by adding fabric softener in your washing cycle.

How to Wash White Polyester

Use distilled white vinegar to clean white polyester garments. Just add a 50/50 ratio of detergent and white vinegar in a gallon or more of warm water. You will want to soak the garment for a minimum of 6-8 hours to ensure the vinegar lifts the discoloration or stains.

Will Chlorine Bleach Damage Polyester?

Chlorine bleach is usually too strong for polyester fibers. You can damage or even cause discoloration with this chemical. Refer to the cleaning label on the garment or household item you are washing. Most labels will advise "No bleach."

How to Hand Wash Polyester

When a label recommends a polyester garment be hand washed, you need to handle the garment with care. You can wash the garment in a sink or large tub filled with warm water and detergent.

Swirl, Rinse and Press

The easiest way to hand wash polyester is simply to swirl the garment around in the water. This agitates the garment enough to loosen most soils.

Rinse in Cold Water

You can tell when the soil is lifted, and it's time to rinse under running cold water for the best results. You can refill the sink or tub and swirl the garment for rinsing.

Press to Remove Excess Water

Once the garment is fully rinsed, you need to remove the excess water. Do not wring the garment since this can possible damage the fibers. You can gently fold the garment onto itself and press it into the sink or tub. Continue until you have squeezed out any remaining water. To avoid wrinkles, you can also lay the garment on a towel and roll to remove excess water.

Folded canvas of yellow wet fabric

Pretreat Stains in Polyester

If you have a stain on your polyester garment, especially an oily one, you want to spot clean it with undiluted detergent. Gently rub a generous amount of liquid detergent onto the stain and then allow it to rest for 10-20 minutes before washing. This should suffice in lifting the stain.

Don't Put in Dryer if Stain Remains

You want to always check to make sure the stain has been removed before tossing the garment into the dryer. If you dry a polyester garment with the stain, you'll end up heat-setting the stain, and it will be impossible to remove it.

Laundry care washing instructions clothes label on blue jersey polyester

Easy Care for Washing Polyester

Polyester is an easy-care fabric and simple to wash. Even stained polyester garments can be treated and washed without much effort.

How to Wash Polyester and Keep It Looking New