How do I Clean Polyester?

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  • Written By: Jodee Redmond
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2016
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Polyester is a synthetic fabric that is used to make a number of familiar items. It resists wrinkling, making it a popular choice for clothing. It is also used to make upholstered furniture. To make it last longer, it's important to follow the proper cleaning instructions.

Clothing made with this material may be washed by hand or in a washing machine. Hand washing is considered the safer option, since there is less chance of the garment developing unsightly snags on the outside. If a clothing item made of this fabric is being washed by hand, warm water and a mild detergent should be used. Once it has been washed and rinsed, it can be hung up to dry.

When cleaning polyester clothing in a washing machine, use warm water and select the permanent press cycle. Turning the item inside out before placing it in the machine will keep the outside surface looking new for a longer time. If bleach is being used to remove stains, use only a small amount, since bleach products tends to break down fibers in fabrics. The clean clothes may be placed in a dryer on low heat when the wash cycle is completed.


If the item contains at least 50 percent polyester, it can be cleaned with a spray upholstery cleaner. Before applying the cleaning solution to the entire surface, test it in a small spot that will not be readily visible to ensure that it doesn't cause the color to bleed. If the test area doesn't run, then the product is safe to use for the rest of the furniture.

Cleaning polyester used to make furniture is a different process. Before using any type of cleaning product on couches, chairs or cushions, take the time to find out what the polyester content is. If it's less than 50 percent of the fabric, hiring a professional company to come out to clean the item is the best idea. They will use a process that is similar to the one used to dry clean clothing, which reduces the risk of stretching or damaging the fabric.

If the item contains at least 50 percent polyester, it can be cleaned with a spray upholstery cleaner. Before applying the cleaning solution to the entire surface, test it in a small spot that will not be readily visible to ensure that it doesn't cause the color to bleed. If the test area doesn't run, then the product is safe to use for the rest of the furniture.

It's important to treat the stains on polyester promptly. If the spot isn't removed and the clothing gets heated in a dryer or by an iron, the stain will become set in. Instead, place it in the wash promptly and use a heavy-duty detergent. A pretreater may be used to loosen the stain beforehand.


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Discuss this Article

Post 8

@SZapper - That may be true, but I'd rather keep the stuff I have nice than worry about having to go to the store and replace it. So I usually follow the directions on the label to make sure that my clothes don't get ruined prematurely.

Polyester is fairly easy to care for, but it can get snagged or wear out early if you don't pay some attention to how you're caring for it.

Post 7

I always just throw my polyester clothing in the washing machine and then hang it up to dry. I don't pay much attention to the water temperature either.

Part of the appeal of polyester is that it's cheap and pretty easy to care for, so I don't worry too much about how I wash it. If something polyester gets ruined, I can replace it pretty cheaply.

Post 6

@indemnifyme - I usually ignore those instructions about doing a spot test before using a cleaner. I've never had a problem before, but I should probably start doing spot tests just to be safe. You never know what's going to happen when you buy a new kind of carpet or upholstery cleaner.

Post 5

@Perdido - That's a really good idea! If you test the polyester textile cleaner on the back of the couch, it won't matter as much if something goes wrong, because no one is looking at the back of the couch anyway.

I actually learned my lesson about this awhile back. I used some upholstery cleaner on my polyester couch, and it bled the dye from the fabric. Luckily I noticed what was happening before I did the whole couch, so I was able to just turn the one cushion over. But it could have been a total disaster.

Post 4

I have some upholstery cleaner spray that I use on my polyester carpet and my polyester couch. It comes in really handy when my dogs leave dirty spots behind.

When I first got the couch, I tested the spray on the back of it, which rests up against a wall. When I saw that it didn't create a stain or fade the material, I sprayed it all over the cushions.

I like using upholstery spray because the brush is right on top of the bottle. I can spray and clean with one tool.

Post 3

@feasting – I would probably just keep laying those pants flat to dry. Polyester blends can be confusing when it comes to garment care, so it is best to just do whatever the label suggests.

I have some polyester rayon dresses that gave me the same trouble. Polyester could be tossed into the dryer on low, but rayon will shrink when heated.

I figured out that if I put the dresses in the dryer and turned it on cool, they wouldn't shrink. I only dried them for a few minutes, which was long enough to toss the wrinkles out.

Post 2

I have some polyester wool pants, and I always lay them flat to dry. The label says that they are machine washable, but it recommends drying them in this way.

I have heard that wool garments can stretch if you hang them up when wet. The fibers are really heavy, so the garment can pull itself out of shape.

I also know that polyester can be put in the dryer, so I wonder if putting a polyester wool blend in the dryer would work? I'm too afraid to try it, because there is always the chance that the pants could shrink.

Post 1

I never knew that polyester was so easy to clean! I have been handling my polyester silk garments very carefully, because I was afraid that just tossing them in with the other laundry might damage them.

I have been washing them on the gentle cycle, and I always use cold water. I turn them inside out and don't add any garments with zippers that might catch on the material to the load.

They are in great shape, even after four years of wear. Since I wash several other garments on the gentle cycle every week, I will probably continue to wash my polyester ones in there, just because it has worked so well.

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