If a garment isn’t written 100% cotton, linen, bamboo, or wool, chances are that it’s synthetic or at least partially synthetic. Synthetic garments are man-made materials such as spandex, microfiber, polyester, nylon, acrylic, and rayon.
And while they are strong and durable materials, synthetics are a little sensitive to heat and friction. They also tend to absorb oil which means not any detergent will do.
So, how do you go about washing, drying, and ironing a beloved synthetic maxi dress?
The best way to wash a synthetic maxi dress is by hand with cold to warm water and a mild laundry detergent. This is because handwashing subjects the fabric to minimal friction than machines, which means less breakage of plastic microfibers.
However, some synthetic garments are machine-washable, so you have to confirm on the label. If it’s a yes, use the synthetics settings on your machine because it’s gentle and doesn’t subject the garments to too much heat or friction. If your machine doesn’t have that setting, check the label to confirm the right temperature or go with cold.
Use Laundry Soap
Again, synthetics absorb oil, meaning it will draw the petroleum in regular detergent and coat itself with it. As a result, the garment will not come out clean, and it will also not be able to absorb sweat and germs from your body. This is why you can smell sweat when wearing that beautiful synthetic shirt.
Instead, use laundry soap combined with an enzyme product to break down the oils. We suggest this Arm & Hammer Plus OxiClean liquid laundry with stain remover and deep cleaning abilities.
Use an Activewear Bag
Synthetic garments are notorious for shedding microfiber plastic, which is bad for your machine and the environment. To prevent this, put your maxi dress in a laundry bag like this one from Kimmama, which will keep the lint from getting into your machine. This bag also reduces shedding by 79% for partially synthetic clothes and 86% for completely synthetic garments.
Alternatively, do a full load with other synthetic clothes to reduce shedding. Even then, throwing a Cora ball in there can help collect the lint so your machine can last longer.
Putting a synthetic dress in the dryer is a big NO. The heat will zap the fabric’s elasticity over time and ruin it. Thankfully, synthetic items dry really quickly, so you don’t even need a dryer. Simply hang or airdry the dress outside but away from direct sunlight if it’s colored.
Interestingly, some synthetic fabrics are dryer-safe to a certain degree. Again, the label will tell you. If it has a circle inside a box, that indicates the item is dryer safe. More detailed care tags will put a dot in the circle, meaning you need to keep the temperature low.
To safely dry a synthetic maxi dress on a dryer;
- Set the dryer to tumble dry but at the lowest temperature possible. Synthetics dry fast, so you don’t need any heat.
- Add a dryer sheet at the bottom of the dryer to prevent static cling, which can make the fabric look wrinkly.
- Dry the item in as little time as possible and take it out as soon as it’s done. Leaving the dress there will only lead to more wrinkling, which means more ironing.
- Hang immediately to prevent further wrinkling.
Unfortunately, ironing that beautiful dress will be necessary sometimes, even if you were careful when washing and drying. Remember, however, that synthetic fabrics hate heat, so you have to be very careful when ironing. Here are the steps to follow;
- Turn your dress inside out and line it flat and smoothly on a padded ironing board. Ironing while the dress is right-side-out might damage the surface and even ruin the color. If the dress has pockets, make sure you turn them out too so you can iron them flat.
- Drape a natural material towel or fabric over the dress to serve as a buffer between the dress and the iron. A cotton pashmina, thick bedsheet, or pillowcase will do too, if you don’t trust the towel.
- Check the label on the dress to confirm the right ironing temperature. Most synthetics will have a symbol with one dot, meaning you should iron at a low. Others will have two or three dots for medium-low temperature, but some will specify the exact temperature to use.
- Turn off the steam. Unlike natural materials, most synthetic fabrics don’t need moisture or steam to iron properly. In fact, the steam can ruin your dress, so turn it off. If the dress is a mix of cotton and synthetic materials (except nylon and acrylics), you can spray some water on it before ironing but keep the steam off.
- Move your warm iron over the buffer cloth in smooth, back-and-forth movements, focusing on the most wrinkled areas. Do not forget to iron the pockets if there are any to avoid having unsightly bulges on the hips. The entrance of the pocket is also important.
- How to hang a maxi dress
- How to wash, dry and iron a cotton maxi dress
- How to wash and dry a maxi dress
Wash less, wash in cold water and wash with your hands are the basic rules of washing a synthetic maxi dress. If you use a washing machine, ensure the water is cold to warm and use the right setting and laundry soap.
Synthetic fabrics are quite sensitive to heat. To ensure your dress holds its shape and wicking qualities, avoid the dryer and let it air dry after washing.