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Fabric Care: How to Remove Stains and Wash Synthetics

Synthetic fabrics are a part of everyday life. When you put on your sheer nylon stockings, your super cute acrylic-blend jumper, or your sweat-wicking polyester gym wear, you’re wearing the contents of your synthetic wash load – although hopefully not all at once. If there’s a job natural fibres like wool or cotton can’t quite get done, people have created something that fits the bill perfectly. 

So, how do you take care of these versatile fabrics? How do you go about washing and removing stains from polyester, or rayon, or nylon? Here are the basics.

What is a synthetics wash?

There are a lot of different types of synthetic fabrics available, and they’re often blended with wool, cotton or other synthetic fabrics in different garments. Synthetic fabrics tend to react to a wash in a similar way, though, so if your garment is machine-washable, chances are you’ll need to use the synthetics cycle on your washing machine to clean it. 

Because most synthetic fabrics are derived from plastic, high temperatures can damage or even melt the fibres. The synthetics cycle uses a lower temperature than the average washing machine program and doesn’t agitate the clothes as much, protecting them from damage.

Key tips to remember when doing a synthetic wash load

  • If in doubt, check the label. If your machine doesn’t have a synthetic setting, don’t worry – the garment care label will always tell you the maximum temperature the item can be washed at. 

  • Think warm, not hot. Heat-sensitive fabrics like synthetics should never be tumble-dried at a high temperature, and you should avoid ironing them. If you do need to press a synthetic fabric, use a cool iron to do it, and lay an old, clean towel between the fabric and the iron to protect it.

Polyester, acrylic, and other synthetic fabrics

Spilled something disastrous? No sweat – removing stains from polyester and its fellow synthetic fabrics is often an easy job. How you react will depend a little on the stain itself, but it’s important to make sure your method is kind to the fabric too. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Acrylic

    Because acrylic can be spun into fibres that look and feel like several different types of fabric, you’ll find it in a lot of different types of clothing – it’s often blended with wool in jumpers, for example, or used to make microfiber fleeces, towels or cleaning cloths.

    How to wash acrylic fabric and remove stains

    Like most synthetics, acrylic is sensitive to heat, so make sure to wash it on a cool or warm cycle rather than using hot water. Any tough stains can be treated with a high-quality detergent like OMO Auto Washing Liquid. You can find out more about how to wash acrylic and blended acrylic fabrics here.

  • Polyester

    Depending on how it’s treated during manufacturing, polyester fibres can be used to make anything from the smooth fabrics used in gym clothing to fluffier, denser fabrics. As well as clothing, polyester is used for things like pillow and duvet stuffing, and even to make carpets!

    How to remove stains from polyester

    Many synthetic fabrics – polyester included – show up oily and greasy stains in particular, so you might find yourself wondering how to remove grease stains from polyester at one point or another. The good news is that this is actually quite easy – polyester is an easy fabric to care for. Wash on a warm (not hot!) cycle and pre-treat any stains with OMO Auto Washing Liquid. You could also treat grease or oil stains with dishwashing soap – read more about how do this in our guide here.

  • Nylon

    Often used to make soft, silky fabrics, nylon is frequently found in tights and other kinds of lingerie. Because it’s also very durable and waterproof, however, it’s also used in the production of things like seatbelts, umbrellas, and even fishing lines!

    How to remove stains and wash nylon

    Wash your nylon garments in the machine on a synthetic wash, pre-treating any stains with Omo washing liquid. If you’re washing something delicate, like underwear, it might be a good idea to put garments in a mesh bag before washing to keep them from snagging on the inside of the machine.

  • Rayon

    Rayon is actually the name given to a group of fabrics, including things like viscose and the newly-popular modal. It’s slightly different to other synthetic fabrics in that rayons are derived from cellulose, which usually comes from wood pulp – it’s considered a synthetic because of the chemicals the cellulose is treated with in production.

    How to wash rayon

    Caring for rayon can be tricky – only certain types of rayon can be washed at home, and some will need to be dry-cleaned, so always check the laundry care label. If you can wash your rayon garments, it’s best to hand wash them in lukewarm water with a gentle detergent.

That’s it: everything you need to know about washing synthetic fabrics. They’re usually easy to care for, just as long as you remember to stick to warm rather than hot temperatures and always follow the instructions on the label. Remember to ask a professional if you’re ever unsure!

Click on the link for more laundry care and washing tips