How to Care for Technical Fabrics

From Washing Line in Iceland. Taken b...
From Washing Line in Iceland. Taken by myself in July 2005. – drw25 (talk) 16:20, 29 September 2006 (UTC) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How to Care for Technical Fabrics



Care Tips for Any Outdoor Technical Fabric.

The following tips apply to all fabrics mentioned in this article:

  • Read and follow care instructions provided with your garment. Basic care instructions should be either printed somewhere on its interior or on a tag stitched into a seam. (Sometimes these tags are hidden away inside pockets.) Additional instructions might be included on an information card attached to the item when new. If so, it’s good to save those instructions.
  • Specific manufacturer instructions overrule any general guidance provided here. Presume that the manufacturer understands the fabrics it chooses better than anyone. Following their instructions validates the implied warranty you have with the manufacturer.
  • Specialized cleaning products are available for most technical fabrics. Many manufacturers recommend the use of such products from companies such as  Nikwax. This is due to their ability to rinse cleanly from fabrics, leaving no residues from additives (which are common in super market detergents) that can diminish performance.
  • Close zippers, empty pockets, seal pockets and turn garments inside-out before washing. Doing so minimizes the chance that fabrics will get abraded or have colours dulled while being cleaned.
  • Wash heavily soiled items separately. Soil breaks into smaller particles and may wind up on cleaner fabrics, particularly if too little detergent is used, water temperature is low, the wash cycle is long or the wash load is large.
  • Synthetic materials (nylon, polyester) are easily stained by oily substances. Treat oil stains quickly or they can be tough to remove. Massage a cleaning solution into the affected area and wash in warm water (if manufacturer care instructions permit it) as soon as possible. If the stain remains after washing, do not machine-dry the garment.
  • Never use fabric softener (including tumble dryer sheets) with technical fabrics. Oils, waxes and fragrances in fabric softener cling to fibres and diminish their water repellency, breathability and wicking. This tip often surprises people. But performance fabrics and fabric softener do not mix. Before washing your garment check that you have no residue of old detergent, conditioners or softeners in your machine.



Caring for Waterproof/breathable clothing


Waterproof garments need routine cleaning and maintenance to perform at its best. An important but often overlooked maintenance step is the periodic revival of garment’s durable water repellent (DWR) finish. The face fabric (exterior) of all waterproof/breathable garment’s is treated with a DWR. By making the effort to maintain the DWR will improve performance on those rainy days.

DWR cleaning, maintenance and revival are briefly addressed later in this article.



Frequency of cleaning depends on individual usage. The makers of both Gore-Tex and eVent laminates encourage regular washings for optimal Water proof/Breathable performance. A general benchmark: Wash a waterproof/breathable (WP/BR) garment at least once a year, or more often when the need for cleaning is obvious (whenever the build-up of dirt or salt residue becomes noticeable). Washings enhance breathability.

Primary contaminants that impact WP/BR performance:

  • Dirt (reduces breathability and water repellency).
  • Smoke (invisible-to-the-eye particles can reduce water repellency).
  • Oils, including sunscreen and insect repellent (reduces breathability and water repellency).

Note: Many insect repellents include DEET, which acts as a solvent on some materials. Exposing WP/BR fabrics to DEET could potentially cause leakage at those contact points. Gore-Tex and eVent both say their membranes are not compromised by DEET, but it can’t hurt to be careful when applying it. Coatings may be more susceptible to DEET’s impact.


Specialized cleaning products (such as those from  Nikwax) are recommended for technical waterproof clothing by many manufacturers.

  • Why are they needed? Super Market detergents contain additives such as foaming agents, optical brighteners, dyes, enzymes and fragrances known collectively as “surfactants” (shorthand for “surface-active agents”). One of their effects: They reduce water’s “surface tension” so detergent-infused water molecules bind more readily with oil and dirt than with other water molecules, loosening oil and dirt from fibres.
  • The downside of surfactants: They can leave residues on fibres that can potentially impact fabric performance, particularly water repellency. They could even add a couple grams of weight to a garment.
  • The advantage of specialized cleaning products: They are engineered to rinse away thoroughly without depositing residues.

If you do use a supermarket washing product, follow any specific guidelines for such detergents provided by the garment manufacturer. Be vigilant to thoroughly rinse a garment to remove surfactant residue. (Two rinses are often recommended.) These additives may help your cotton jeans resist staining and appear bright, but they can negatively impact the performance of technical fabrics.

Stain removal:

  • If a stain is fresh, keep it wet, if possible. Or rub it with ice (but not bar soap).
  • In the case of tree sap or a gob of grease, use a dull knife or straight edge to scrape off as much as possible. Tips: Scrape IN from the edges of the stain to avoid spreading it further; while scraping, lift the stained portion away from no stained fabric.
  • Wash immediately. If remnants of the stain are still visible, wash it again before attempting to machine-dry the garment.

Washing method:

  • Use a front-loading washer or hand-wash WP/BR garments.
  • Avoid top-loading washers. The centre-axis agitator inside top-loaders can potentially snag a garment and stretch it.

Wash cycle tips:

  • Close main zipper, empty pockets, fasten any Velcro (a.k.a. hook-and-loop) closures on pockets and cuffs, and turn the garment inside-out. The goal: Avoid snagging or abrasion while garments tumble.

Rinse cycle:

When a standard laundry product is used, 2 rinses are usually advised to remove all reside.


Tumble dry, low heat or hang dry. Following manufacturer directions.


Things to avoid:

  • Fabric softener, including tumble dryer sheets. Oils, waxes and fragrances in fabric softener, as stated previously, diminish breathability and water repellency.
  • Chlorine bleach.
  • Dry cleaning (unless a garment manufacturer advises differently).
  • Open flames or intense heat (synthetic fabrics can melt).

Here’s some guidance for a few well-known waterproof brands:


. Note: always follow the garment’s specific manufacturer care instructions

Launder regularly for best performance.

  • You can wash your garment in pure soap or one of the specialist cleaning products available at many outdoor stores.
  • Wash in warm (40°C/104°F) water.
  • Rinse thoroughly; 2 rinse cycles are usually recommended.
  • Tumble dry, low heat.
  • Do not use fabric softener or tumble dryer sheets.
  • Some garments that use Gore-Tex also use silk or wool and require dry cleaning. When dry cleaning Gore-Tex items, W.L. Gore recommends requesting a clear, distilled solvent rinse and a spray-repellent.
  • For troublesome stains, contact W.L. Gore

DWR maintenance needed when water no longer beads up on a garment’s face fabric.

  • Machine-drying (tumble dry, low to medium heat) for 10-15 minutes after each washing.
  • If a washing is not needed, an iron (at a low setting). Place a tea towel between the iron and garment during touch-ups.
  • If the face fabric continues to show signs of wetness, use a DWR reapplication product from Nikwax.
  • Spray-on DWR products are usually preferred over wash-in products, leaving linings and membranes untouched.


Note: always follow the garment’s specific manufacturer care instructions for eVent laminates:

  • Wash regularly for best performance.
  • Use liquid detergent. (Specialized cleaning products are good; super market liquids are also acceptable.) The maker of eVent believes using liquids eliminates the chance that micro particles of powder detergent might lodge in the eVent membrane.
  • Wash in warm (40°C/104°F) water.
  • Rinse thoroughly; usually 2 rinse cycles are recommended.
  • No fabric softener or tumble dryer sheets.
  • Hang dry. (The maker of eVent makes no recommendations regarding dryers. If a dryer is used, close all zippers, turn the garment inside-out and monitor its progress to avoid overheating the fabric.)
  • Never dry clean.

DWR maintenance (needed when water no longer beads up on a garment’s face fabric

As mentioned above, the maker of eVent makes no recommendation regarding dryers, which is a customary method of reviving a DWR. If care instructions on the garment permit, touch up the exterior with an iron (on a low setting) to revive the DWR. Place a tea towel between the iron and the fabric during touch-ups.

  • If the face fabric show signs of wetness, eVent’s maker advocates the use a DWR reapplication product (available from Nikwax. Follow instructions on the product.
  • Spray-on DWR products are usually preferred over wash-in products, leaving linings and membranes unaffected.

Other coatings and Laminations

. Note: always follow the garment’s specific manufacturer care instructions

Launder regularly for best performance.

  • You can wash your garment in pure soap or one of the specialist cleaning products available at many outdoor stores.
  • Wash in warm (40°C/104°F) water.
  • Rinse thoroughly; 2 rinse cycles are usually recommended.
  • Tumble dry, low heat.
  • Do not use fabric softener or tumble dryer sheets.

DWR maintenance needed when water no longer beads up on a garment’s face fabric.

  • Machine-drying (tumble dry, low to medium heat) for 10-15 minutes after each washing.
  • If a washing is not needed touching up items with an iron (at a low setting). Place a tea towel between the iron and garment during touch-ups.
  • If the face fabric continues to show signs of wetness, use a DWR reapplication product from Nikwax.
  • Spray-on DWR products are usually preferred over wash-in products, leaving linings and membranes untouched.

Care for Soft Shells


The evolving soft-shell category has branched off into subgroups:

  • “Classic” soft shells: Stretchy, water-resistant garments designed for elevated breathability during aerobic activity in cool or misty conditions (but not in heavy or sustained rain).
  • Windproof jackets/shirts: Designed to buffer the body from wind chill while also resisting light precipitation. The addition of a windproof membrane (or other barrier) creates an impact on breathability that varies by individual garments.
  • Waterproof/breathable soft shells: These garments utilize a WP/BR membrane, so their breathability performance typically is no different than traditional “hard shell” rainwear. Their advantage: stretch, for flexibility.

Nearly all soft shells have face fabrics that are treated with a DWR finish. A DWR requires periodic revival to be consistently effective at shedding moisture.

  • Maintaining a DWR is critical for a soft shell, maybe even more than that of a hard shell. Hard shells are equipped with a Waterproof/Breathable barrier (either a laminate or coating) that prevents moisture from penetrating the garment’s interior even if the DWR has grown ineffective. Soft shells rely almost entirely on DWRs in order to resist moisture.
  • A few rare soft shells are constructed with very tightly woven face fabrics. Since they shed water by construction.


Frequency of cleaning depends on individual usage. Soft shells (classic soft shells in particular) are popular among fast-moving, high-exertion outdoor athletes, so perspiration, dirt and odour build-up can accumulate quickly. When they do, put them in the wash. All soft shells breathe better when clean.

Cleaning guidance for soft shells mirrors much of the laundering advice for waterproof/breathable garments already explained above. To summarize:

  • Primary contaminants: Dirt, body oils, smoke, sunscreens and insect repellents. DEET won’t melt soft-shell fabrics, but it can potentially diminish water repellency.
  • Specialized cleaning products: Some products are made specifically for soft shells.
  • Super Market laundry products: You can wash your garment in pure soap or one of the specialist cleaning products available at many outdoor stores.
  • Prewash stain removers: OK to use.
  • Washing method: A front-loading washer or hand-washing is preferred.
  • Water temperature: Cold or warm (40°C/104°F); stick with what the garment’s manufacturer advises.
  • Rinse cycle: 2 rinses, particularly when a standard laundry product is used.

General guidance for specialized soft shells:

  •  Machine wash warm (40°C/104°F), or according to manufacturer instructions.
  • Waterproof/breathable soft shells: Follow manufacturer recommendations; consider the use of a specialized cleaning product.


Tumble dry low or warm; 10-15 minutes or until dry to the touch; or hang dry.

Things to avoid:

  • Fabric softener, including tumble dryer sheets.
  • Chlorine bleach.
  • Ironing.
  • Dry cleaning (unless a garment manufacturer advises differently).
  • Open flames or intense heat (synthetic materials can melt).

DWR maintenance:

  • After each washing, machine-drying (tumble dry, low to medium heat) for 10-15 minutes.
  • Machine drying can also revive a DWR between washings. Do not attempt this, however, if the garment is soiled; heat can permanently set stains. Wash the garment first.
  • If the face fabric continues to show signs of wetness, reapply a DWR to the face fabric by using a DWR reapplication product from Nikwax.
  • For soft shells with no membranes, the use of a spray-on or wash-in DWR treatment. Wash-in products are simpler for this type of garment.
  • If using a wash-in product, consider pausing the wash cycle after a few minutes and let the garment soak in the solution for 30-60 minutes, then resume washing.

Reactivating Durable Water Repellent (DWR)


When a waterproof or water-resistant garment is new, any moisture that falls on its exterior (face fabric) quickly beads up and slides off, due to the presence of a durable water repellent on the fabric.

Over time, a DWR loses some of its effectiveness. Why? Dirt, body oils, perspiration, launderings and abrasion all have an impact. When water stops beading up and instead starts soaking in and creating wet patches on the face fabric, the fibres are absorbing water and the garment will feel heavier. The DWR either needs reactivating or reapplication.

This is an important maintenance step many people overlook.

Here are a few tips:

  • Washing, followed by machine-drying (tumble dry, low to medium heat) for 10-15 minutes, usually brings a fatigued DWR back to life.
  • If a washing is not needed, a short spin in a dryer might be all a DWR needs to regain its optimal water-shedding abilities. Just don’t skip the washing phase if the garment is dirty; heat can permanently set stains.
  • Items using eVent laminates can have their DWRs revived with a touch-up using an iron at a warm steam setting. It is usually a good practice to place a tea towel between the iron and garment during touch-ups.
  • When washing and heat do not restore the desired level of water-repellency, use a DWR reapplication product from Nikwax.
  • In general, spray-on DWR reapplication products are usually preferred over wash-in products, leaving linings and membranes unaffected.

Care for Fleece



Modern fleece garments are insulation pieces constructed almost exclusively from synthetic fibres (typically 100% polyester, a type of plastic). Such fibres are heat-sensitive. If a dryer is used, choose a low temperature setting. Synthetic fibres could potentially melt if exposed to high heat.

Some fleece or fleece-like garments are given DWR finishes to make them weather-resistant, making them quite similar to soft shells. Be sure to follow manufacturer care instructions provided with individual garments. Sometimes this information is hidden on tags inside pockets.


“Pilling” is a flaw that plagued early generations of polyester fleece. It occurs when fibres pull away from yarns due to friction or excessive time spent in a clothes dryer. These frayed fibres can form tiny clumps by the hundreds on fleece surface.

Modern fleece is pill-resistant thanks to improved finishing methods, the use of microfibers and other higher-grade fibres. Pilling is still possible (so be sceptical of claims of “no pilling” fleece), but the risk is significantly reduced.

Tip: If you own a cherished fleece item that appears hopelessly pilled, try shaving away the pills. Seriously. Take a disposable razor and lightly, carefully stroke the garment’s surface to shave away pills. This process dulls blades quickly, so several razors likely will be needed to complete the job on any sizable garment.

The following general guidelines can apply to most fleece and micro fibre products:


Frequency of cleaning depends on usage and how quickly you accumulate dirt, stains or odours. Synthetic fleece is a fairly robust fabric. Feel no hesitancy to wash it often.

Specialized cleaning products (such as those from Nikwax) are available for fleece, though super market laundry products or delicate-care products are usually acceptable e.g. Soap Flakes.

Residues are less of an issue with fleece. However, some detergents may include additives that could cause fleece to mat or compact, impacting its ability to insulate. If you notice this happening, change detergents. Also: Residues can possibly impact colour quality. Consider using a mild or specialized soap (soap Flakes) if a garment’s colour is important to you.

For an extra-high level of care:

  • Wash fleece items separately.
  • Wash in lukewarm water (unless otherwise specified).
  • Wash with like colours only, particularly if you’re very fond of a certain colour. (Use cold water in this case.)
  • Turn inside out (to minimize piling).
  • Tumble dry low or air dry; air dry if the fleece is older and at risk of piling.
  • A fabric softener can be an option on fleece garments with no membranes (unless manufacturer care instructions specifically prohibit its use). Fabric softener can minimize or eliminate static electricity in fleece.
  • A wash-in style of DWR re-treatment can work very well on weather-resistant fleece. It is especially useful on fleece accessories such as hats and gloves which are often exposed to snowfall or drizzle.
  • Machine wash warm.
  • Tumble dry low (or air dry).
  • No bleach.
  • Avoid fabric softener and tumble dryer sheets (possible exception: fleece-only items).
  • Do not iron.
  • Do not dry clean.

Fleece is sometimes bonded to laminates or wind-buffering barriers to deliver specialized performance attributes and may require special handling instructions. Definitely inspect your garment for specific cleaning and handling directions.

Care for Synthetic Base Layer


Synthetic fabrics used in wicking base layers (typically 100% polyester) are designed to transport moisture (sweat) and hasten its evaporation. They’re so comfortable and functional that they are routinely worn for workouts (indoor and outdoor) or daily use.

As a result, base layers are the technical fabric that most often lands in everyday laundry loads. This means they are commonly exposed to Super Market laundry products.

This is generally not considered to be a problem, though keeping them free of detergent residues could potentially give them a slight performance boost. Thus a specialized cleaning product (seek out choices from Nikwax) A thorough rinsing is advised. If your washer permits adjustable rinse cycles, choose the longest cycle available.


Decades ago, polypropylene was the synthetic wicking material in widest use. It fell out of favour due to its tendency to retain perspiration odours. Polyester eventually became the wicking fabric of choice, though some people grumble that it, too, has a proclivity to retain odours (though not polypropylene’s level). Tips for odour avoidance:

  • Wash base layers regularly.
  • If you wear a base layer on consecutive days (during a multiday hike for example), air it out at night. On warmer summer nights, you could rinse it out and hang it to air dry. To do this, collect water from a lake or stream in a container, carry it 200 yards from the water source and rinse the garment at that location, away from the water.


Frequency of cleaning: Regularly.

Follow any specific laundering instructions provided on your garment. Otherwise, general guidelines for this category include:

  • Wash in cold or warm water (with like colours).
  • Base layers can be vulnerable to snagging. Either separate them from garments that include zippers, clasps or openings that use rip-and-stick closures, or place them inside a protective bag during washing.
  • No fabric softener or tumble dryer sheets. Oils and waxes in fabric softener can diminish wicking performance.
  • No bleach.
  • Do not iron.
  • Do not dry clean.

Care for Wool


Merino wool garments designed for performance use are usually machine-washable. That’s not always so with woollen fashion apparel, where hand-washing is often required. Yet most merino wool items designed for athletic or recreational use (socks, base layers, tops) can be tossed in the washer. (Front-loaders preferred.) Always check manufacturer care instructions on any wool item before washing.


Shrinkage is one of wool’s enemies. Moisture, heat and friction are the principle forces that cause it. To combat shrinkage, merino wool used for performance-wear garments typically undergoes a “superwash” process (involving chlorine) early in its production cycle. This shrinkage-resistant treatment masks the natural scales on individual wool fibres.

When exposed to a slippery solution such as detergent, these scales (which resemble irregularly stacked cones) migrate in one direction—toward the root, a reaction that causes the scales of the fibre to lock together, creating a very strong, irreversible bond. As the fibres lock together, the fabric actually shrinks. This is called “felting shrinkage” and is unique to wool.

The superwash process, though, greatly minimizes felting shrinkage. It makes merino wool garments capable of safely weathering the agitation and spinning actions involved in machine washing.

Beyond felting shrinking, another type of shrinkage can impact wool—relaxation shrinkage.

Fabrics are knit under tension (a stretched condition). During initial home machine washes, water lubricates natural fibres, enabling them to return to a more natural/relaxed/less-stretched state. This is why a cotton T-shirt shrinks the first few time it’s washed.

The same thing happens with wool. Depending on the knit, wool garments are vulnerable to varying degrees of relaxation shrinkage.

The tighter the knit, the less potential for relaxation shrinkage. Base layers, for example, are knit tightly. Tight construction permits safe machine-drying with minimal risk of shrinkage. Fashion jumpers, meanwhile, have a looser knit and may shrink more. With Fashion Jumpers laying the items flat to dry prevents shrinkage.

Yet even the most tightly knit fabrics will experience a minor amount of shrinkage.

Odour Resistance

One of merino wool’s chief advantages over polyester (used in synthetic base layers) is its natural ability to resist odours. Of course, even wool’s odour-fighting ability can be overwhelmed by a week-long backpacking trip or too many hours spent near a smoky fire. In general, though, wool substantially outperforms synthetic materials in its ability to minimize odours.


Frequency of cleaning: wash merino wool regularly.

Super market laundry detergents are generally considered safe and acceptable for machine-washable merino wool. Avoid any that contain chlorine bleach.

Wool has a high resistance to acid, yet some detergents contain an elevated alkali content that, if used over an extended time, may weaken wool fibres. Other evidence indicates that, over time, the use of household detergents can cause light-coloured woollens to yellow slightly. It’s the same effect wool experiences if it is exposed to excessive amounts of ultraviolet light (direct sunlight).

Some wool-clothing manufacturers recommend mild cleaning products such as soap flakes. Producers of clean-rinsing fabric-care products for outdoor clothing (from Nikwax) offer wool-specific laundry washes. If a household detergent is used, consider choosing those with minimal additives, usually labelled Mild detergents may extend the life of merino wool products.

Wool is less resistant to abrasion that other fibres. Therefore never wash wool with any item that includes exposed hook-and-loop (rip-and-stick) fasteners on cuffs or pockets. For optimal care, wash wool items only with other soft garments, such as other knits.

Other points to remember:

  • Never use bleach.
  • No fabric softener.
  • Ironing is OK (as long as individual care instructions permit it). Wool in general exhibits a natural resistance to wrinkling and thus infrequently requires ironing. It is recommended that you use a low heat setting on your iron.
  • Dry cleaning is OK (as long as individual care instructions permit it). Wool items with a print or pattern usually do not permit dry cleaning.


In general, hang-drying or flat-drying is preferred. Refer to individual care instructions to determine if a dryer can be used.

Add no fabric-softening tumble dryer sheets when a dryer is used.

To speed dry time:

  • Lay the wet garment flat on a dry bath towel.
  • Roll the towel and the garment together.
  • Unroll the towel and let the garment dry flat.


If is fairly rare for insects to attack woollen products. Several specialized insect families (clothes moths and carpet beetles) are able to digest wool when in their larval stages. However, these species are more attracted to wool in its raw form than as a finished product. Some wool products also contain an insect-resistant treatment to deter attack.

A few suggestions:

  • Moths dislike light, fresh air and regular laundering.
  • Rather than use mothballs, keep all wool products in a wood-lined chest or closet.
  • Clean wool items after all periods of extensive wear. Be especially vigilant when food spills are evident.
  • After cleaning and before storing for prolonged periods, place items in an air-tight plastic bag (though some insects can chew through plastic).

Down Jacket Care


Washing down items is an event, a process, not something done casually. Many people choose to have a down-cleaning professional handle the task. (Do NOT dry clean a down item, however.)

Try not to keep you jacket in its stuffsac, or on a coat hanger.  Loosely packed in a storage bag in a clean dry space is the best place to put them away for the summer.

It is best to avoid getting your down jacket dirty, as washing is a fairly time consuming
process and does ultimately damage the fill a little. The fabrics and fill do eventually get dirty which will mean the jacket ends up not keeping you as warm as it could.

Always follow the washing instructions on the garment as we use a variety of
face fabrics and trims which need different washing treatments.


Here are general guidelines

Wash your down jacket by hand in lukewarm water, using a natural soap or even better a specific down soap which is available from outdoor stores.

When the jacket is wet, care must be taken to avoid tearing the baffles which keep the down in place inside the jacket. Keep the jacket fairly flat in the sink or bath when washing and only gently move the garment around in the water, avoid picking it up out of the water or wringing it in any way. Squeeze excess water out when rinsing by pushing the garment against the bottom of the sink.

It is really important to rinse the garment well, use a lot of water and rinse as much as you can. The worst thing to do is to leave traces of soap in the down as this will absorb moisture and dirt.

After the final rinse, gently squeeze out as much water as possible in the manner described above, then leave it to drain for a while.

Spread the jacket out to drip dry, then air, not just over the washing line but fairly flat on a rack if you can.

When the jacket is nearly dry you can tumble dry it according to the instructions on the garment, take care to use the correct temperature because some very light face fabrics need to be tumbled cold.

If all this sounds too much hassle, there are some specialist companies who can clean and repair down products.

WL Franklin
01142 686161
Mountaineering Designs
01539 536333


Care for Bike Shorts/Tights/Bibs


Fabrics used in compression clothing are typically a rugged breed of polyester blended with stretchy spandex or Lycra. It’s possible that cycling or triathlon shorts that include a chamois may require specialized handling. Be sure to follow care instructions provided with each garment.


In general:

Use a specialized cleaning product (examine the choices available from Nikwax or a mild detergent, preferably one which is chlorine free as the Chlorine and some detergents attack the Spandex and Lycra in the fabric.

Notes: Always follow the garment’s specific manufacturer care instructions

  • Mix water and detergent before adding the clothing.
  • Close any zippers, empty pockets and seal any Velcro closures. Turn the garment inside-out.
  • Cold or warm water.
  • Gentle cycle, if recommended on care instructions.
  • Rinse a second time if soap can be detected at the end of the cycle.
  • Hang dry, or tumble dry low if in a hurry.
  • No fabric softener or tumble dryer sheets.

Stain and Odour Removal

Some techniques offered here may conflict with manufacturer care directions. NOTE: Employ them at your own risk.

General Tips for Tough Stains

  • Keep fresh stains wet in cold water, then wash immediately. (Avoid hot water; it can set some stains.) Fresher stains can be removed more easily.
  • Do not rub a stain with bar soap; doing so may set the stain.
  • Rubbing a stain with an ice cube may be beneficial. Rub a stain outside-in to avoid spreading the stain.
  • Rub or blot stains with a white material (cloth or paper). Using a dark material may cause a new problem. Avoid using materials prone to causing lint.
  • Carefully scrape off any material that can be scraped off (again, in an outside-in motion), but do so only if you can avoid spreading the stain.
  • Do not allow stained garment to touch any coloured fabric.

Perspiration: Apply liquid detergent directly to the stain or soak in warm water with a pre-soak product for 15 to 30 minutes. Then launder. If the stain, try laundering again before attempting to machine-dry the garment.

Oil (such as sunscreen or insect repellent): Start with one of the following:

  • Treat with a prewash spray or liquid.
  • Pour a small amount of liquid detergent directly on the spot.
  • Mix powdered detergent and water to create a gooey paste.

Whatever treatment you choose, massage the solution into the stain. Using additional detergent, wash it in the warmest water allowable for your garment. After rinsing, inspect the garment before attempting to machine-dry it. If some portion of the stain remains, repeat the treatment without machine-drying.

Mud, blood, food (known as protein stains): If the stain is fresh, soak and agitate in cold water prior to washing. If dried, soak in cold water with detergent or a pre-soak product. Wash in warm (not hot) water. (Hot water can set some stains, particularly blood.) Inspect before attempted to machine-dry the garment. If necessary, repeat the soak-then-wash process for 30+ minutes before machine-drying.

Human saliva can be effective against blood. Spit on a blood stain and the saliva will break done the proteins in the blood. Rub it in with a finger or soft brush until the blood dissolves, and then wash normally. With wool, however, do not over agitate the stain; doing so could promote shrinkage at that spot.

Grass or ink (dye stains): Use hair spray; rub gently with white cloth or paper. Avoid excessive rubbing, though; it could spread the stain.

Red wine (tannin stains): Pour on some carbonised water or white wine; rub gently with white cloth or paper. As with ink, avoid excessive rubbing. Wash soon using detergent. Do not use a bar soap or soap flakes.

Nonchlorine bleach can be tried on severe spot stains, but it offers no guarantee of removal. Realize some stains simply cannot be removed.

Odours: washing usually removes most odours. If they persist, try storing them in a box or closet with an open container of baking soda or Sodium Bicarbonate, activated charcoal or calcium carbonate crystals. Another option: Sprinkle soda directly on a fabric and let it stand for a day or longer; eventually shake it off or use a hand vacuum.

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