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How to Wash and Care for Polyester

How to Wash and Care for Polyester - Threadsy

Nicole Rollender |

If you’re wearing and caring for polyester clothing, chances are that you’re not doing everything correctly to keep them as clean and fresh as the day you bought them. That’s why we put together the top 10 questions we hear most often about caring for poly t-shirts and other garments, to give you a mini crash course in caring for polyester apparel.

But first, here are six quick-hit reasons why purchasing polyester garments is a smart move:

  1. Polyester fabrics are durable and lightweight.
  2. Poly is wrinkle resistant.
  3. Poly is highly stain resistant, so it’s easy to remove dirt from uniform pieces.
  4. Polyester dries quickly, making it ideal for outerwear and activewear.
  5. Polyester garments retain their shapes well so they don’t usually shrink or stretch, giving the garment a long, happy life.
  6. Polyester fibers take dyes well, so they hold their color wonderfully—through many washes and even being out in the sun.

Your Top 10 Questions About Caring for Polyester T-Shirts - Answered

Here we cover the most common questions our customers ask us about caring for polyester garments.

Q. Is it safe to wash and dry polyester garments in the laundry?

Yes, polyester fibers and fabrics are very resilient, so they can survive many trips through the washing machine. Of course, some poly garments like shirts need to be washed after every wearing.

However, you should know that some polyester garments are heat sensitive. If you dry poly t-shirts on too-high heat, the polyester shirt could melt, shrink or deform. To be safe rather than sorry, we recommend never washing your clothes in hot water or drying them in ultra-high heat settings when you’re drying them in the machine or with an iron.

However, read the care instructions on the garment’s label. If a polyester garment is a blend, where the fabric contains other fibers like linen or silk, the care instructions will be different. Of course, if your poly garment instructions advise you to “dry clean only” or “wash by hand,” you should follow those to keep the garment in tip-top shape.

Q. Got any tips for washing a poly t-shirt or garment?

Experts recommend choosing the permanent press setting on your washer, and using cold or warm water (never hot). You’ll want to use a detergent that contains enzymes that bust stains and dirt. Some experts say that you don’t need a heavy-duty detergent, as the harsh chemicals for deep stain removal might fade or weaken the fabric over time.

Then, add the recommended amount of detergent per load size to your washing machine. Load your garments into the machine, and begin the load.

Pro Tip: You might want to turn poly items inside out before throwing them in the washer, so that the fabric doesn’t catch on other garments’ buttons or zippers and get snags and pulls.

Q. OK, how about drying polyester shirts and apparel?

Transfer the clothing from the washer to the dryer. Once again, like when you wash your poly shirts, select the permanent press setting, and start the dryer. You can also air-dry these garments on a drying rack or clothes line.

Q. How should I take care of white polyester t-shirts?

First, treat whites with extra-special care. If you want to keep white poly tees looking crisp and fresh, you can pre-soak them before you put them in the washer. (However, don’t use chlorine bleach, which can damage the fabric.) Try combining water with oxygen bleach, and soak the white polyester shirts for at least two hours before machine washing. Some people even soak their whites overnight for an additional brightness boost. 

Pro Tip: Some people opt to mix half a cup of dishwashing detergent with a gallon of warm water. This serves to brighten your white poly garment, as well as remove any dirt and stains before you wash it like you normally do.

Q. Can I use bleach on my polyester garments?

This answer bears repeating: Don’t ever use chlorine bleach on your poly t-shirts and other clothing. Since polyester is a synthetic material, chlorine bleach will fade its color (and dull white poly t-shirts) and even remove the outer coating of color. This harsh bleach will also degrade the fabric strength. Instead, use oxygen bleach, which is safe for polyester.

Q. What about hand-washing polyester garments?

If the garment’s care instructions recommend hand-washing, definitely do so. Here’s how you can do it the right way:

  1. Fill a tub, sink or basin with warm water and light detergent. Of course, follow the instructions on the detergent bottle for the right amount to use.
  2. Submerge your garments in the water and swirl them around gently, so that the dirt begins to lift.
  3. Now, rinse the clothes under cold water. You can either rinse them under a tap of running water or refill your sink or tub with cold water to rinse them.
  4. Next, drain extra water from your clothes. You can fold them and press them against the side of your tub to remove extra water.
  5. Since you’re hand-washing a garment, it’s a better idea not to throw it in the dryer. Opt to air-dry these items. You can use a drying rack or hang them outside on a clothesline.

Q. Do I need to pretreat stains?

If an oil-based substance comes in contact with your polyester shirt, there’s an instant bonding or attraction, which can be difficult to get out. However, you’ve got a better shot of removing an oily stain if you treat it with a stain remover or a touch of heavy-duty detergent right away. If you’re using a stain remover, work it into the stain with your finger and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes before you wash it. 

Pro Tip: When you take your shirt out the washer, make sure the stain is gone before you throw it into the dryer. Otherwise, the dryer heat will “cure” the stain into the shirt and you’ll probably never be able to fully remove it.

Q. Can I iron polyester garments?

You probably already know that the reason many people like poly garments is because they don’t wrinkle easily. However, from time to time, a polyester shirt can become creased or wrinkled. We recommend ironing the polyester fabric with steam on a medium heat setting. If that doesn’t quite work, try a clothing steamer.

Q. How should I store my polyester garments?

It’s best to hang these garments or stack them flat. We’ve noticed that if you fold some polyester garments, they wrinkle. You can buy a larger plastic storage box from a big-box retailer and stack shirts flat in these tubs. If you have a polyester dress or suit, you can hang them in your closet in garment bags for longer-term storage.

 Q. What's a “performance polyester” t-shirt?

If your workout gear is made from a polyester fabric, it might be stinky and have visible sweat stains after you run five miles or lift weights. That’s why you should wash them right away after you finish your workout. Unfortunately, that’s one of the biggest annoyances of polyester and other synthetic fabrics, that they retain and emit body odors.

That’s why many apparel manufacturers treat the garments with moisture-wicking and antibacterial treatments to wick sweat away from the body and ensure the garment doesn’t smell musky. Look for garments with these special performance properties.

Shop Threadsy for Wholesale Polyester Shirts

A common question we get is where to find high quality polyester shirts in commercial quantities. Good news: you’re in the right spot! Threadsy offers cheap t-shirt prices on thousands of poly garments, with no order minimums. We also offer bulk discounts for orders $110+. the more you buy, the greater the discount.

Polyester t-shirts are some of our best-selling products, since they are easy to decorate with sublimation and other popular printing techniques. Trade specialty brands like Gildan and Team 365 are classic choices for blank polyester tees. Eco-conscious consumers can look to brands like Threadfast who lead the industry in their recycled polyester program.