Cleaning special fabrics like a pro
Cashmere. This expensive fiber comes from the undercoat of cashmere
goats. Treat it with respect. Dry-clean these prizes or hand-wash with care in cool
water and well-dissolved gentle soap. Adding a little hair conditioner to the final
rinse and rinsing well is important. Do not wring. Dry flat, reshaping the garment
as it dries. Iron on the “wrong” side while still damp with a cool iron, if necessary.
Down. Down is the soft under-feathers of waterfowl that are often combined
with adult feathers. It is machine washable and dry-cleanable. Be sure to follow
the care label closely. Do not air-dry down: It dries too slowly, and mold or
mildew may form in the process. Dry in your dryer, using a large-capacity dryer
if needed. Set temperatures low (less than 140ºF), fluffing and turning the item
often. Make sure to dry the item thoroughly. This can take time. Want really fluffy
down jackets and bedding? Put a clean tennis shoe or tennis ball in the dryer
with the item to fluff it up!
Linen. A tough fabric that withstands high temperatures, linen is made of
natural flax fiber, and ranges from light to heavyweight. Hand-wash or machine-wash linen in warm water (be sure to read the care label). If the fabric is colorfast you may remove stains and brighten the garment with oxygen bleach. Do not
use chlorine bleach. Iron while still damp; to help prevent creasing you may want
to treat linen with starch or sizing. Press heavy linen with a hot iron; for lighter-weight linen and blends, press with a warm iron. Linen may also be dry-cleaned.
Silk. This natural, delicate fabric requires special care to avoid damage.
Check the labels, but you may be able to hand-wash crepe de Chine, thin, lightweight and medium-weight silk in lukewarm water with mild soap or detergent.
You can also use cold water with cold-water detergent. Do not use chlorine
bleach. Do not wring or rub silk. Rinsing well is vital. Rinse several times in cold
water to remove suds. Blot with a towel and dry flat. Iron on the wrong side of
the fabric with a warm iron. Silk may be dry-cleaned, and that works best for
suits, pleated silks and silks that are not colorfast. Do not use strong spotters or
enzyme spotters on silk.
Spandex. Spandex is an artificial fiber that is added to other fibers to give
them stretch and elasticity. Machine-wash spandex in warm water on the delicate or gentle cycle. Do not use chlorine bleach. Do not put spandex garments
in the dryer or iron; high heat will break down spandex fibers. Line dry or dry flat,
per the care label. If you have exercise clothes containing spandex, be sure to
launder each time you wear them. Body oil can break down spandex fibers.
Wool. This natural fiber comes from the fleece of sheep. Hand-wash wool
sweaters and other knits in cold water with cold-water detergent. Rinse several
times, and do not wring or twist. Blot with a towel and dry flat, reshaping as needed.