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Acetate
Acetate
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Used often in linings because it does not pill or suffer from static cling, acetate is also made into dresses, suits and sportswear.

Most acetates are dry-clean only, but some are washable.

For the washable variety, you typically hand wash in warm water with mild suds. (Don’t soak coloured items.)

Do not wring the item dry. Instead, lay it flat to dry.

While it’s still damp, press it inside out with a cool iron.

If you are finishing the right side, use a pressing cloth.

When removing stains from acetate, never use acetone or a nail-polish remover that contains acetone.

The acetone will dissolve the fibres.

Acrylic
Acrylic
Wikipedia

Known for its ability to draw moisture away from the body, acrylic is a popular material for socks, as well as other clothing items.

Garments made from acrylic can be washed or dry-cleaned.

Generally, you should machine wash, using a warm-water setting.

Add a fabric softener during the final rinse. Acrylics are heat-sensitive, so tumble dry at a low temperature.

To avoid wrinkling, remove from the dryer as soon as dry.When hand washing is required, as with delicate items, use warm water and a mild detergent.

Rinse and gently squeeze out the water, smooth out the garment and dry on a rustproof hanger. Lay jumpers and knits flat to dry with a clean towel underneath.

For ironing, use a moderately warm iron.

Alpaca
Alpaca
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Made from the fine, soft hair of the alpaca, a cousin of the llama, alpaca is gaining in popularity as a substitute for wool.

Nearly all alpaca can be dry-cleaned, and some can be gently washed.

Woven items should be dry-cleaned, whereas knitted garments, such as jumpers, should be washed by hand in cool water with a mild, undyed soap or shampoo.

Don’t twist or wring.

Lay them out flat to dry, pressing with a dry towel to remove excess water.

Touch-up with a cool iron as needed.

Cashmere
Cashmere
Wikimedia

A fine wool made from the undercoat of the cashmere goat, cashmere is as soft as it is expensive.

Most cashmere can be drycleaned, and some can be gently washed.

Most woven cashmere requires dry-cleaning to retain its shape.

But knitted cashmere, such as jumpers, can – and should – be hand washed.

Careful washing helps them retain their lustre and loft.

Use a natural, undyed soap and cool water.

Move the jumper around in the cool water for a few minutes.

Rinse repeatedly – until the rinse water is clear.

Lay out the jumper to dry, pressing it with a dry towel to remove excess water.

If you need to touch it up with an iron, do so carefully, using a pressing cloth.

Cotton
Cotton
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By far, cotton is the most widely used fibre found in today’s wardrobes.

Since not even boiling hurts the fibres, cotton can be machine washed in high temperatures using any good detergent.

You can use chlorine bleach safely on cotton whites (but never soak for more than 15 minutes, since the bleach will break down the fibres) and all-fabric bleach on dyed cottons.

Cotton is an absorbent fibre and requires lots of drying time.

Because it wrinkles easily, it often requires pressing. Use a hot steam iron.

Linen
Linen
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Linen is made from flax, one of the oldest textile fibres. (It dates back to at least 5000 BC!)

Today, you can wash some varieties of linen, but others should be dry-cleaned. Sometimes it’s up to you.

Linen has a natural pectin that keeps it stiff and crisp.

Washing removes the pectin, making it softer.

If you prefer crisp linen, then have your linen dry-cleaned.

Otherwise, machine wash it in warm water and tumble dry.

It tends to wrinkle and often requires pressing. Use a steam iron on medium or high heat.

Nylon
Nylon
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The second-most common synthetic after polyester, and the strongest fibre available, nylon is relatively easy to care for.

It can be machine washed in warm water.

To reduce static cling, add a dryer sheet to the dryer and remove clothes from the dryer as soon as they have finished drying.

If you need to iron nylon, use a warm iron.

Polyester
Polyester
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Strong, durable, shrink- and wrinkle-resistant, polyester is a miracle fibre, the most common of the synthetic fibres.

It does tend to take on oily stains easily, however. In general, polyester is easy to clean, which helps account for its popularity.

Most polyester items can be washed or dry-cleaned.

Wash in warm water and tumble dry at a low temperature setting.

To prevent pilling and snagging, turn knits inside out.

To reduce static cling, use a dryer sheet (see below) and remove garments as soon as they have dried.

When ironing, use a moderately warm iron.

Ramie
Ramie
Wikimedia

A vegetable fibre similar to flax, ramie comes from the stem of a shrub that originated in Asia.

The fibres are strong (but they have low twisting and bending strength), do not shrink and have a lustrous appearance.

Much like linen, ramie can be machine washed in warm water and tumble dried or dry-cleaned.

It tends to wrinkle and often requires pressing.

Use a steam iron on medium or high heat.

Rayon
Rayon
Wikimedia

Developed in 1910, rayon was the first synthetic fibre.

Originally, most rayon was dry-clean only, but there are now washable rayons on the market.

Check the care label for any rayon garment you’re unsure of.

Dry-clean-only rayon that gets wet (even in the rain) can bleed dyes, shrink and grow stiff.

Washable rayon is typically hand wash only. (Since it loses up to 50 per cent of its strength when wet, rayon can be destroyed easily by the agitating action of most washing machines.)

Wash in lukewarm or cool suds, squeezing the suds through the fabric and rinse. Never wring or twist rayon. Shake out or smooth the garment and hang it on a rustproof hanger to dry.

Lay jumpers flat to dry. While the garment is still damp, iron inside out on low heat.

For finishing on the right side, use a pressing cloth.

Silk
Silk
Wikimedia

Made from protein fibre produced by the silkworm (the finest silk fibre is produced by worms that eat mulberry leaves), this ancient material connotes fabulous wealth and exotic locales.

It is expensive and must be treated accordingly. Most silk is dry-clean only, since laundry detergents can harm silk.

If the care label says that hand washing is OK, use a mild soap and lukewarm water. Never use bleach with silk.

When ironing, iron inside out on low heat.

Spandex
Spandex
Wikipedia

Developed in the late 1950s, spandex is lightweight, durable and known for being flexible.

That’s why it turns up in swimming costumes, pantihose and tights. (Lycra is simply a brand name for spandex.)

You can machine or hand wash spandex. Don’t use chlorine bleach, however.

Either let it drip-dry or put it in a dryer on a low setting.

When ironing spandex, use a low temperature setting and iron in swift strokes, never letting the iron linger in one spot.

Wool
Wool
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A natural fibre that comes from sheep, wool has been around for thousands of years.

It is known for its warmth and ability to shed wrinkles.

There are many types of wool and different ways to care for it.

Generally speaking, you should dry-clean wool at least once a season or when needed

.You can also hand wash wool.

Since wool loses its shape when wet, when washing a wool jumper, first lay the jumper out on a piece of clean paper and trace the shape.

You’ll use this for laying the jumper out while drying.

Use warm water and a mild detergent that contains no bleach. Don’t soak. Rinse well.

To dry, roll the jumper in a clean towel and squeeze out excess water.

Put a piece of plastic over the pattern you made, to prevent dyes from the paper from bleeding onto the jumper.

Pat the jumper out to fit the shape.

Smooth out wrinkles.

If the item needs pressing, use light steam and a press cloth.

1. Trace your wool jumper’s shape before washing.

2. To remove excess water roll the jumper in a towel (see below right) and then pull back into shape to dry.

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