Can You Machine Wash Polyester?

The washing machine brings in so much comfort and convenience to the laundry world. But as much as it brings joy and goodness, the washer can also ruin your favorite fabric if you’re not very careful.

That is to say that not all fabrics are actually machine washable. Take for instance, silk and wool that can get distorted when agitated in the washing machine. But where does polyester stand in all of this? 

Polyester can be machine washed in warm water using a permanent press cycle. You can even choose to sanitize polyester in hot water, but avoid using hot water often, as it can eventually cause distortion of the polymer system of polyester. 

The reason why polyester isn’t sensitive to machine washing is because it retains its tenacity when submerged in water and so doesn’t tear or distort easily when agitated.

Below, we’ll find our more on the characteristics of polyester that makes it fare well with the washer and dryer. 

Polyester is very strong

Polyester is a very strong material. It is made from melting and processing plastic pellets or chopped up plastic bottles and so has the same chemical composition as them. 

Polyester is sturdy due to its very pronounced crystalline structure that results in the formation of solid Vander walls’s forces as well as hydrogen bonds which makes the material difficult to tear or wear down. 

Because of this, polyester can be subjected to the rough agitations of the washer (when wet) and still maintain its integrity. 

Polyester doesn’t get weak in water

The nature of polyester is such that it always tries to resist the permeation of water into its polymer system, unlike silk or wool that absorb water and become wet. This is because of the absence of polarity in the system as well as the rigid crystalline structure of the polyester.  

Because of this nature now, polyester doesn’t get weakened when wet because it does not give water the chance to get everywhere and hydrolyze as many bonds as possible. 

And any fabric that doesn’t get weakened when wet can easily tolerate the heavy duty wash settings of laundry to a great degree! 

This means that washing your polyester in the washer on moderate to heavy agitation won’t cause tearing or shrinkage. 

Polyester dyes wont come off easily

Once you dye polyester, it’s very difficult for the dyes to come out from the fibers during washing. As a result, washing polyester even in warm water and high agitation won’t cause fading or loss of color. 

Polyester can be bleached

Another interesting thing about polyester is that it can be bleached. So you can use chlorine bleach to whiten and brighten white polyester fabrics as well as disinfect and remove stubborn soiling in them. 

Polyester doesn’t wrinkle easily

Polyester doesn’t wrinkle easily too, because of the fact that it resists penetration by water to a great degree which means its strength isn’t compromised in the washer! So, it’s difficult for wrinkles and creases to appear except for the little water that is able to penetrate and hydrolyze bonds, therefore causing little wrinkles that will be removed naturally during drying. 

There’s one problem, the oleophilic property of polyester

The fact that polyester does not accept water the way other fabrics like silk and wool do makes it kind of difficult to clean when it has grease stains in it.

And guess what, the water “repellent property” of polyester makes it extremely susceptible to picking up grease and oil based stains. 

So when you have grease stains on polyester, especially the ones that have aged, you’ll have better chances of cleaning it using the dry cleaners than washing with soap and water. 

This is because the dry cleaning fluid isn’t water, but a solvent, which dissolves grease and oil from clothes easily. 

What setting to wash polyester in washing machine

When it comes to machine washing polyester, there is flexibility with regards to the options on the washer panel. 

You can opt for a cold wash, in a gentle cycle or silk cycle, which is great for polyester clothes that have no stains on them, especially grease stains. 

You can also opt for the warm temperature using the gentle silk cycle. Permanent press cycle is also recommended for polyester as it helps to eliminate the possibility of wrinkle or crease formation on clothes. 

If you have heavy stains, you can opt for hot water wash, using a heavy duty cycle. Polyester will still come out fine, but just make sure you’re doing this one in a while because the polyester filaments and fibers will break down eventually! 

Aide machine washing, you can also hand wash polyester. But if you have a machine, there really is no need for that as the washer would do the better job, especially when you have stains on your polyester. 

To wash polyester by hand, create a solution of quality detergent and water and soak the cloth in it for about 10 minutes. If you have heavy soiling on the cloth, let the polyester sit for more time. Then take it out, look for soiled spots and scrub them gently with your hands to remove the soils. Rinse the fabric in water and you’re ready to dry. 

For the kind of detergent to use on polyester, feel free to use any detergent: liquid, powdered and pods. Polyester isn’t degraded that much by alkalis, so you can use heavy duty detergents for tackling stains when you need to, and opt for gentle detergents when to satisfy the inner guilt of washing detergents with heavy duty soaps. 

How to dry polyester

Just like washing, drying polyester also comes with a bit of flexibility. You can dry polyester using the no heat setting because polyester doesn’t take time to dry, and you can also use the moderate setting to dry polyester. It will do just fine. 

If you don’t fancy machine drying, or dont have a dryer; opt for air drying. Wring polyester gently and hand it to dry outside. Don’t worry about taking polyester out of direct sun as it isn’t affected that much by the ultraviolet rays of the sun. 

To minimize wrinkles, it’s best to drip dry polyester: so the weight of water pulls down on any wrinkle that may have formed from washing. 

Final Thoughts

You can wash polyester in the washing machine without running into any problems. The washer doesn’t affect polyester in the same way it affects silk or wool, because they’re delicate and polyester is durable. 

What you need to watch out for when it comes to washing polyester in the machine is heat. Limit the maximum amount of heat (water temperature) you apply to polyester to moderate or warm. Don’t go above that because the material can distort and therefore lose shape, although it can take recurrent washing in that condition to see that happen. 

In the dryer also, don’t use high heat to dry polyester because it will shrink with consistent practice. Use moderate heat or no heat setting, polyester, having the kind of chemical composition that it does, dries faster than most other fibers out there!