How to Wash Acrylic and Rayon Sweaters: A Step-by-Step Guide
As much as we love natural fibers, there are just some things they can’t do as well as the alternatives—retain color, withstand high heat and maintain their shape with minimal shrinking or warping. Luckily, synthetic options like acrylic and rayon bring the softness, comfort and absorbency of natural fibers like cotton coupled with extreme durability and stability of manmade fibers. If you want to make sure your favorite sweaters stay in great shape, we’ve got you covered with this in-depth guide!
BEFORE YOU CLEAN: Always make sure you read your garment’s care label before busting out the detergents and prepping the spin cycle. Know the wash care symbols on your item’s tag and follow them closely.
How to Wash Acrylic Sweaters
Given the aforementioned characteristics, learning how to wash acrylic sweaters is pretty simple, and you can do it with your basic laundry supplies. The fact is that acrylic is beloved by clothiers in part because it’s low-maintenance and easy to clean without sacrificing the warm, comfortable feel of a good sweater. It’s one of those fabrics that, as your grandma might say, “washes well.” Still, here’s what to do if you want to get that cozy cable-knit or distressed sweater back in boutique shape fast.
What You’ll Need:
- A washing machine
- Mild laundry detergent
- A laundry wash bag
- Pre-Treat Any Stains—Salad dressing? Makeup? Red wine? We’ve all done it—don’t stress. Dampen the garment in a sink filled with warm water mixed with a few drops of gentle detergent. Rub the garment together at the stain. For tougher stains, use an old toothbrush to loosen any stubborn residue.
- Wash on a Warm, Gentle Cycle—Here’s where your trusty laundry bag comes in handy. These convenient little bags are made to protect garments from ripping, tearing and tangling, so they’re great for safeguarding your most stylish sweaters and knit tops. Wash on a gentle cycle with warm or cool water. You can also hand-wash your acrylic clothing, if desired.
- Lay Flat to Dry—Though acrylic is relatively durable and resistant to abrasion, it may lose its shape or stretch if placed in the dryer. It could also be left with permanent wrinkles if not properly dried. Immediately after the wash cycle is complete, lay your sweater on a clean, flat surface to dry.
How to Wash Rayon Sweaters
Made from cellulose fiber, rayon (certain types are known as viscose, modal or lyocell) is a super-practical, adaptable fiber that can be used to imitate the more finicky, expensive natural fibers, like silk, linen or wool. With that being said, rayon is not foolproof or indestructible. In fact, it’s recommended that your rayon garments be hand-washed or dry-cleaned, as the fabric can shrink and become misshapen when exposed to heat.
If the care tag on your item has the hand-wash laundry symbol (see above), follow the step-by-step instructions here. If the tag has a plain circle with nothing inside it, your garment must be dry-cleaned. We can’t stress this enough: Do not wash dry-clean only items in your machine!
What You’ll Need:
- A mild laundry detergent
- A sink filled with cool to warm water
- Fill a Sink with Cool to Warm Water—Fill a bathroom or laundry room sink with room temperature water and add a couple of drops of mild laundry detergent, such as Woolite or another soap that specifically states that it’s safe for or tested on rayon fabric. Mix the water so it becomes sudsy.
- Agitate the Garment—Gently submerge your sweater in the soapy water, making sure that it’s fully wet. Agitate the garment gently by swirling it around in the water. Move it around in the water for a minute or two to ensure that every piece of the garment is exposed to the detergent. Remove the fabric from the sink and run it under room temperature water, gently squeezing out excess water until no suds are left.
- Lay Flat to Dry—Never put your rayon sweaters in the dryer, as heat can permanently damage the fibers. To dry, simply reshape and lay on a clean, flat surface. Rayon can be fragile when wet, so always handle it with care.
Making Your Garments Last as Long as Possible
You’ve designed your wardrobe with hand-picked garments, and it took you a lot of time and a financial investment. Learning how to properly care for everything in your closet is a fantastic way to ensure that each piece you pick stays in the rotation for years, no matter how many times you wear it!