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Fabrics Not To Wash

No matter which water temperature, laundry product, or wash cycle you select, certain non woven fabrics simply cannot be washed. We don’t typically encourage dry cleaning, however, for a handful of fabrics, the only option for safe cleaning is dry cleaning. Washing non woven fabrics is often times not an option. Trust us—we’ve experimented.

Machine Washable Fabrics Viscose

Viscose is a type of rayon. Although many rayons can be washed, viscose clothing has been known to shrink to extreme proportions and is not a machine washable fabric.


Our often-cited “Why not to wash viscose” example is the classic black matte jersey wrap dress by Diane Von Furstenberg. It shrinks to half its size!

Machine Washable Fabrics Polyamide

Polyamide is often blended with viscose or rayon. We don’t recommend washing items that contain polyamide since this fabric can expand when laundered. It is sometimes used in women’s blazers and suit pants (often from Italian brands).


Gwen once washed her favorite pants that were made of a polyamide blend, and they grew to twice their size!

Machine Washable Fabrics Leather Labeled Not Washable

We don’t like to give specific cleaning advice for leather as this material has many different options for finishes, which makes it impossible for us to know which type you’re working with. Our general guideline for leather is as follows:

Leather labeled “Not Washable”:
If a leather item is labeled “Not Washable” or “Dryclean Only” don’t wash it. Take the item to a professional

Leather labeled “Washable”:
We have successfully washed many leather items labeled “Washable” as well as non-leather items with leather trim: patches, collars, zip pulls, and binding. Simply test the leather item before you wash it. Look for discoloration, spots, or other changes once the area has dried. Most leather used for detail or trim is washable.

Leather trim:
We have successfully washed many leather trim items labeled “Dryclean” or “Dryclean Only.” Most leather trim is made from “garment washed” leather. This type of leather has already been washed during the production stage, which means it should now be washable as part of the garment.


Ralph Lauren sweaters with patches and trim, accessories with collars, and pants with patches

Machine Washable Fabrics Fur with Skin

Fur with skin cannot be washed:
We don’t recommend washing fur that has skin on the underside. The skin can shrink or dry out with wet washing.


A traditional fur coat

Vintage fur should not be washed:
Older fur is often brittle and frail and may disintegrate during washing.


An older sweater with a fur collar, found in the attic

Machine Washable Fabrics Structured Items

These are items made with structured material inside—such as padding and interfacing—that can become dislodged when washing. These items cannot be washed. However, you can freshen them and sometimes spot treat stains, depending on the fabric makeup of the item.


Neckties, blazers with shoulder pads

Machine Washable Fabrics Items with Manufactured Pleating

These items have pleats that are not sewn in. Instead of permanently stitching the pleats into place, the manufacturer created them using a heat source. The pleats may not be preserved during washing and cannot be replicated.


A pleated silk skirt

Machine Washable Fabrics “Dryclean” & “Dryclean Only”

Many items labeled “Dryclean” can actually be washed, such as wool or silk. Simply look up the fabric on our site to find out if (and how) you can safely wash it. If the fabric cannot be washed or if you would prefer a professional cleaning or pressing, set this item aside to bring to the drycleaner.

If the item says “Dryclean Only,” we recommend you go ahead and dryclean it. However, sometimes garments are mislabeled. If you suspect that the item can be washed, do your homework. First look up the fabric to see if it’s washable. If you find that it is, err on the side of caution and test the item before washing.

How to reduce your drycleaning:
Most people send items to be drycleaned because they are wrinkled or because they no longer smell fresh. If the item isn’t actually dirty, you don’t need to take it to the drycleaner. Instead, save money and wear your item by freshening between cleanings—we recommend steaming. Not only will steam release wrinkles, but the hot steam also kills bacteria (thereby eliminating odors). For added scent, we use our Fabric Fresh, which has antibacterial properties.

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