April 26, 2007 -- From ink spills to splatters of cooking oil, "Stain Rescue" from the Good Housekeeping Institute offers an A to Z guide on removing your toughest marks from every type of fabric. The following is an excerpt.
Cleaning Guide to Fibers and Fabrics
Here is a general guide to choosing the right cleaningmethod for your garments. Care varies based oncolorfastness, weight, trimmings, linings, specialfinishes, and fabric and garment construction. Alwaysread and follow the manufacturer's care labelrecommendations before cleaning garments.
ACETATE: Synthetic fiber. Dry-clean.
ACRYLIC: Synthetic fiber. Machine wash knits inwarm water on gentle setting. Wash inside out toreduce pilling. Roll in a towel to absorb extra moisture,and dry flat; or dry at low setting in a dryer. Dry-cleanwoven acrylic fabrics.
BLENDS: Fabrics of combined fibers: cotton/polyester,cotton/linen, silk/polyester, wool/polyester, and so on.Follow care guidelines for the more delicate or mostprominent fiber in the blend.
CANVAS: Heavy, firm, tightly woven fabric,originally cotton or linen, now also made of syntheticsor blends. Machine wash in cold water and tumble dryon low setting. Dry-clean if not colorfast.
CASHMERE: Undercoat hair of the cashmere goat.Treat as wool, and follow the care label. Sweaters maybe hand washed with care, but it's best to dry-cleanboth knits and wovens.
CHIFFON: Thin, transparent fabric, usually silk; canbe made of synthetic fibers. Hand wash for best results.
CHINTZ: Glazed cotton, often printed. Dry-cleanunless label states that glaze is durable and fabric canbe washed; if so, wash as directed on labels.
CORDUROY: Ridged-pile fabric that may be cotton,cotton/polyester, or rayon. Turn inside out and usewarm water. Dry at regular setting; remove from dryerwhile slightly damp; smooth pockets and seams withhands. Hang until dry.
COTTON: Natural vegetable fiber woven andknitted into fabrics of many weights and textures.Hand wash lightweight fabrics, such as batiste,organdy, and voile, and hang to air-dry (or iron dampwith a hot iron). Machine wash light-colored andwhite medium- and heavyweight cottons with warmor hot water. Use cold water for bright colors that maybleed. Dry at regular or low setting. Remove fromdryer while still damp. Iron damp with hot iron.Cottons like towels and underwear can be washed anddried on hot settings if desired.
DAMASK: Jacquard-weave fabric; may be cotton,linen, silk, viscose, wool, or a blend. Hand washlightweight fabrics (see individual fiber listings forcare). Dry-clean silk, wool, and all heavier-weightfabrics.
DENIM: Strong, heavy twill-weave fabric, usuallycotton, but can be a cotton/synthetic blend. Prone toshrinkage unless purchased preshrunk. Machine washin warm water. Traditional blue and other deep colorsbleed the first several washings, so wash separately, asnecessary. Dry at low setting to avoid shrinkage. Ironwhile damp with a hot iron, as needed.
DOWN: Soft underplumage of water fowl, oftencombined with adult feathers (should be so labeled).Both machine-washable and dry-cleanable, but treatmentdepends on the fabric shell of the item; followmanufacturer's instructions carefully. Do not air dry.Tumble dry on gentle setting (temperature no higherthan 140°F or 60°C ). Fluff and turn often during drying.
FLANNEL: Napped fabric in plain or twill weave.Cotton and synthetics may be machine washed. Dry atlow setting and remove while damp or line dry. Woolshould be dry-cleaned.
GABARDINE: Firm, closely woven twill fabric,originally and often worsted wool; also made of cottonand synthetic fibers. Follow label directions or dry-clean.
LACE: Open-work textile; may be cotton, linen, orsynthetic. Hand wash using a detergent for delicatefabrics. Avoid rubbing. Squeeze out excess moisture;don't twist or wring. Shape by hand and hang to airdryor dry flat; do not tumble dry. Pin delicate lace to acloth before washing.
LINEN: Natural flax fiber; light- to heavyweightfabrics. Hand wash or machine wash in warm water ifcolorfast; use oxygen bleach, as needed. Iron damp onwrong side. For heavy linens, use a hot iron; forlighter-weight linens, blends, and linens treated forcrease resistance, use a lower temperature. Can alsodry-clean (especially heavy linens).
MICROFIBERS (IN CLEANING CLOTHS): Tightlywoven polyester and nylon fibers. Machine washseparately to keep them lint-free. Never use fabricsoftener as it reduces the cloths' static properties andmakes cleaning less effective. Line dry or machine dryon normal setting, again, separately from other laundry.
MICROFIBERS OR FLEECE (IN CLOTHING ANDBEDDING): Small and fine polyester yarns that aretightly woven. Machine wash in cool to moderatelywarm water and air dry or machine dry, warm setting.If you have not purchased anti-pill fabric, turngarments wrong side out when laundering to reducepilling. Fleece is heat sensitive, so hot dryer temperaturesand ironing should be avoided to reduce pilling.
MOHAIR: Fiber from the angora goat. Treat as wool.
NYLON: Synthetic fiber used in fabrics of differentweights, sometimes blended with other fibers. Whenused alone, it is both dry-cleanable and machinewashable;use warm water. Tumble dry on a low setting, or hang on plastic hanger and drip or air dry.To avoid permanent yellowing, keep away from sunlight or direct heat.
ORGANDY: Sheer, lightweight, plain weavecotton. Hand wash; starch to maintain characteristiccrisp appearance. Iron damp with hot iron. Can alsodry-clean.
POLYESTER: Strong synthetic fiber in fabrics ofvarious weights and textures; often blended withcotton and wool. Does not shrink or stretch. Wash inwarm water. Tumble dry and remove promptly toprevent wrinkles. Iron at low setting. If blended, followguidelines for the more delicate fiber.
RAMIE: Natural fiber from ramie plant (similar tolinen), used alone or blended, often with cotton. Machinewash in warm water; tumble dry. Iron damp with hotiron. Can also dry-clean. Avoid excessive twisting.
RAYON: A generic term for a man-made fiberincluding viscose and cuprammonium rayon. Somegarment labels identify the fabric as "rayon," some as"viscose." Follow label care instructions. Dry-clean forbest results.
RUBBER: A fiber found in both natural and manmadeform. Used in sneakers. Remove laces (wash thoseseparately) and machine wash warm. For best results,air-dry or dry at low setting. Using too high atemperature in the dryer will sometimes melt the rubberor shrink the canvas part of the shoe.
SATIN: Fabric with a lustrous finish, traditionally silk,now also acetate and polyester. Dry-clean silk andacetate. Wash polyester satins following fiber guidelines.
SEERSUCKER: Fabric with puckered stripes woven induring the manufacturing process; usually cotton, butalso nylon, polyester, and silk versions. See specificfiber for washing instructions. Drip or tumble dry. Ironon low heat, if needed.
SILK: Natural fiber from the silkworm; in fabrics ofvarious weights and textures. If recommended, handwash plain-weave crepe de chine and thin, lightweight,and medium-weight silks in lukewarm water with mildsoap or detergent or in cold water with special coldwaterdetergent. Do not use chlorine bleach. Rinseseveral times in cold water until no trace of sudsremains; towel-blot. Dry flat. Iron on wrong side atwarm (silk) setting. If so labeled, some silks can bemachine washed; follow label directions carefully. Drycleanheavier (suiting weight) silks, pleated silks, andthose in dark colors, which may bleed.
SPANDEX: Generic name for stretch fibers oftenadded to other fibers to give them elasticity.Machine wash in warm water on the delicate cycle(if exercise wear, wash after each wearing to removebody oils, which can cause deterioration). Do notuse chlorine bleach. Tumble dry on low setting. Ironusing low setting.
TERRY CLOTH: Toweling fabric with looped pilemade of cotton or cotton/polyester. Machine wash inwarm or hot water. Tumble dry or line dry.
VELOUR: Napped fabric, originally wool, now alsocotton, silk, and synthetics. Dry-clean unlessmanufacturer's label indicates it can be washed.
VELVET: Soft-pile fabric, originally silk, now usuallyrayon or cotton. Dry-clean.
WOOL: Natural fiber made of sheep fleece. Handwash sweaters and other knits in cold water with coldwaterdetergent. Rinse thoroughly. Squeeze; do notwring. Towel-blot and dry flat, blocking back tooriginal size. Machine-washable wools are so labeled;follow instructions carefully. Dry-clean woven woolsand heavy sweaters.