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How to Wash Polyester: A Quick Guide

Lidia Bertesteanu |

Polyester is a strong and resistant fiber used on a large scale in multiple industries. You are familiar with polyester as it is present in clothes, accessories, athletic apparel, microfiber garments, and more. We have talked about polyester before. Even if it is a human-made, synthetic fabric and a type of plastic, polyester is an integral part of our lives. When we are eco-conscious and environmentally friendly, we want to do everything in our power to maintain polyester items for as long as we can. Even if it is a very enduring material, it is crucial to wash it and preserve it correctly. Therefore, let’s see today how to wash polyester and make sure it stays in tip-top shape!

What Polyester Items Can We Wash?

As we said, polyester is present in different proportions in plenty of items you wear or use daily. Two broad categories are clothes, with athleisure items and pro sports apparel in particular, and various reusable grocery bags you use for a wide range of purposes. You probably have a couple of polyester beach bags, polyester shopping bags, or even workbags in your collection. Even if they are resilient to wear and tear, it does not mean you can put them back into your closet without washing and disinfecting them, especially in our health-challenging times.

Overall, if you have owned a polyester training top, parkas, outdoor gear, fleeces, or at least a polyester beach bag or backpack, you know how to wash polyester. It does not support high temperatures or heavy-duty ironing. Nevertheless, there is more to washing this fabric, and we will continue our guide on how to wash polyester depending on your needs!

How to Wash Polyester with a Washing Machine

The first thing to do when you want to wash polyester items is to read the labels. If they warn you about temperatures, make sure you follow the instructions carefully. In rare cases, polyester comes as the only fabric making an item. Most of the time, garments, clothes, and accessories feature a mix of polyester and other textiles (usually cotton). It is crucial to read the labels and make sure the washing machine is safe. If the tag says you should wash polyester by hand, put the items aside. We will discuss how to wash polyester by hand in a few moments.

Now, back to the washing machine. Here are some guidelines on washing polyester to clean and sanitize it without damaging the items in question.

  • Use heavy-duty or regular laundry detergent. For good results, we recommend liquid or pods for more effective cleaning.
  • Before you put your polyester items in the washing machine, we recommend you turn them inside out. Zippers, buttons, hooks, and other trimmings can snag the fine synthetic fibers, leading to damages over time.
  • Set your machine on a cycle that uses warm water (but never hot)! In case your device does not allow you to choose a moderate temperature, go with cold water. Hot water can shrink, melt, or deform polyester items, so keep your tote bags, yoga apparel, etc. away from any heat settings.
  • Choose a regular or short washing machine cycle.
  • Just as it is the case with washing canvas tote bags, you want to preserve your items’ shape and function, so we recommend you to set the centrifuge at the lowest speed. If you can choose a cycle with no centrifuge, it would be for the best.
  • As an advice, do not add any special treatments when you wash polyester fabrics. The material does not need fabric softener. Moreover, enhanced detergents created against stains could harm the fabric.
  • If you want to pick a drying cycle type (although we do not recommend one for polyester tote bags), go for the permanent press one for clothes and apparel.
  • You can also tumble dry your polyester clothes and accessories on a cool setting to avoid shrinking. To minimize the risk of static buildup or fabric wrinkles, take the items out of the dryer while still damp.

As a note, we always recommend air-drying your canvas shopping bags, jute fashion tote bags, and polyester accessories. Concerning ironing, for polyester clothes, you could use a very low setting on your iron. However, if you have polyester clothes, a balcony, a clothesline, or some clothes hangers, air-drying also eliminates the need for ironing. As long as you don’t hang polyester tank tops, tote bags, or parkas in full, direct sun, the items will dry and iron naturally and without effort. Drying polyester clothes in the full sun also endangers their colors and shape, so make sure you choose the right spot on your balcony.

How to Wash Polyester by Hand

Washing polyester by hand is the safer approach, especially if you have to clean large items, such as beach bags, office tote bags, backpacks, and more. Given their structural complexity, dimensions, and trimmings, it is better to hand wash such items. All you need is a basin, the kitchen sink, or the bathtub.

  • Fill the basin with warm water and laundry detergent and let the polyester item soak well;
  • Swirl the item in the basin until you are sure it lost all dust, grime, dirt, etc.
  • Rinse in cold water. Use your shower for some water pressure to eliminate embedded soap and leftover dirt;
  • Do not wring the polyester clothes or tote bags you just washed, because you will cause fabric damage or wrinkles. Press to remove the excess water. Alternatively, lay the item on a towel and roll them, so the towel absorbs the moisture.

How to Wash Polyester: Pre-Wash Stain Removal

Some of the most significant polyester issues are food stains on your polyester grocery shopping bags or oil stains on your poly beach bags. Pre-washing stain removal is not hard. Rub a generous quantity of liquid laundry detergent gently on the stain and let the item sit for about 20 minutes. Then, wash your item in the washing machine or by hand, as you prefer.

To avoid heat setting the stains, first check the status of the stain. If it is not gone, repeat the process before putting the polyester item into the dryer.

How to Wash White Polyester Items

We recommend washing white polyester tote bags and items individually and by hand. In case you want to remove oil stains, mix warm water and vinegar in equal parts, and gently rub the stain before washing. We recommend trying the water/vinegar solution on a small area inside the polyester item to avoid burns or discolorations.

Bottom Line

Do you have other suggestions on how to wash polyester? In case you do have some tricks up your sleeve, we would be happy to hear from you and share your tips with our community!