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Quick Cleaning Tips

How to Care for Different Types of Fabrics (page 2 of 2)

Learn the best way to care for and clean the most commonly used fabrics found in your closet.

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Silk: hand wash or cool warm wash -- tumble dry cool or air dry

Supple, strong and lustrous, this natural fiber is among the world's oldest clothing materials. While silk fiber itself is washable, many weave patterns used for silk fabric will tighten or pucker if washed, and deep dye tones may not be color-fast.

Let garment labels guide you when cleaning silk garments. "Dry-clean only" signals a fabric or construction that will not survive washing. Launder washable silk garments using products formulated for hand washing or delicate fabrics. Mild baby shampoo (without conditioning additives that may add wax or oils) is a good choice for hand-washable silk fabrics. It will clean the natural protein and revitalize the fiber.

Never tumble silk in the dryer. Instead, roll the item in a towel to press out moisture, and then hang to dry. Press silk garments with a warm iron.

Spandex: hand wash – air dry

A touch of stretch makes clothing fit and feel better. Enter spandex, an elastic fiber now incorporated in small amounts in many types of fabric to add stretch and comfort. While spandex is hand- or machine-washable, avoid hot water and chlorine bleach. Both will damage the spandex fibers. Unless care labels provide otherwise, hang spandex garments to dry, and avoid machine drying.

The heat of the dryer can cause some spandex-blends to pucker or bubble. If ironing is necessary, press the item quickly with a warm iron.

Wool: hand wash – air dry

Sheep love it, and we do, too: the soft, warm fiber made from wool. Naturally insulating and easy to dye, wool fabric runs the gamut from rugged tweeds to floating wool challis.

In the natural state, wool is washable, but because many wool garments incorporate construction methods that cannot be washed, dry-clean wool clothing where the label requires. If washable, use a gentle detergent and hand wash or machine-wash as directed by the clothing care label.

A tip from a venerable Shetland Islands' knitter: Wash and rinse wool fibers in lukewarm water. Using cold water to rinse can cause shrinkage when it comes to wool.

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