Can You Wash Cotton And Synthetics Together?

We already know that not all fibers are created equal.

Natural fibers exist out there with members like cotton and jute, while in a second world, there’s the synthetic fibers having members like polyester, nylon and spandex all having different chemical composition, wash instructions and mechanical tolerance.

The traditional rule has always been to wash all likes together, but as “The Modern Laundress”, it must have crossed your mind to inter link! 

To pair natural fibers with synthetic fibers and wash them together in the washing machine?

You’re not wild, you can actually do it! 

Here’s how to wash cotton and synthetics together

You can pair cotton clothes with synthetics like polyester and nylon and wash them together without any problems. Just make sure to check the fabric care label of each article and follow the instructions for the most sensitive material in the load, which would typically be that for the synthetic. 

Can different fabrics be washed together?

Absolutely, you can pair different fabrics together and wash them, but make sure you’re following the right technique to avoid ruining your clothes.

Pay attention to the care label

This is the most important step when it comes to washing natural and synthetic fibers together. 

Because fibers are different in their physical and chemical properties, and are also produced and finished differently, you want to pay close attention to the care label of each cloth you want to pair together in the washer: it’s tucked somewhere at the seam on the neck region or within the cloth. 

This will help you discover exactly how to wash the cloth and whether or not it can be washed together with other clothes.

Now say for example, you have a cotton cloth that says washable at high temperature using heavy duty settings, and a polyester shirt that says wash on delicate using cold or warm water, there’s absolutely no need to gamble here, you should wash the two clothes at polyesters’ setting which is the most delicate of the two. 

The implication of going with the most delicate setting however, is that the other cloth, if it is heavily soiled, might not be washed properly as opposed to if you wash it at its own recommended settings.

Aside from the wash temperature, there are other instructions like the chemicals permissible on the cloth, as well as dryer temperature safe for the fabric. Ensure to check these too to know how to pair them with other clothes if it’s okay to do so.

Sort based on color

Another important thing to do is to sort clothes based on color. This is extremely important when you’re dealing with a sea of darks and lights.

Some clothes have dyes on them and will run them off in the washer. Having these clothes paired with whites or lights means you’ll run into a tye and dye mess at the end of your laundry session.

So the best thing to do is to always separate clothes into three different categories: the first whites, the darks such as jeans, blacks, dark browns, deep greens etc., and the lights which are the lighter shades of orange, pink, brown, beige etc.

If you have a new cloth in the mix, you want to wash that separately especially when it’s colored, as the likelihood of it running off its colors is pretty high.

One quick tip to actually help you with this sorting thing is to “spot test” which involves using a cotton swab moistened with water to dab the surface of each cloth (you suspect might bleed) in different areas of colors. 

This will help you find out if the cloth will bleed. 

If you have a transfer of dye on the cotton swab, then it means the cloth could bleed and you should avoid washing it with other clothes. If there is no color transfer however, then you’re safe to pair it with other clothes that don’t bleed as well.

Sort based on weight

When you’re doing the sorting thing, you should separate clothes based on weight too. 

You can’t, for instance, pair body towels with delicate shirts. Such pairing will cause a quick deterioration of the latter, due to the wear exerted and subjected by the towel on the cloth. 

So towels, bedsheets, other beddings, curtains, couch covers etc. should all go on one side of the laundry, and your regular clothes and underwear should go on the other.

Sort based on delicateness

Not all clothes are created equal. While some are sturdy, others are delicate. 

Some have specific detailing on them, have a mixture of sensitive and sturdy fibers, have beads or sequins on them, etc. and for these, you want to wash them separately and alone, and if possible, by hand, because most of them would have the “machine washable but hand washing is preferred” line slapped on their care tag anyways.

Sort based on level of soil

Also, if in the laundry, you notice that some clothes are really heavily soiled for instance your kids clothes, or the sports wear, it’s recommended to remove and wash them separately so you limit the chances of having soil sediments redeposit back onto other clothes and persist till the drying stages. 

What setting should you wash a mixed load in the washing machine?

When you’re washing mixed loads, it’s always good to go with the lowest setting possible (in spin speed as well as wash water temperature). 

This is because there might be some fibers or some clothes in the mix that are very sensitive to wash conditions and you might end up causing damage to them if not in the short run then in the long run.

But the best way to go about washing mixed clothes is as we have described above. So first of all, check the care label, then sort clothes based on colorfastness, delicateness, soil level and weight.

If your fabric care label does not indicate any wash instructions, or the fabric doesn’t even have a care label, then you can use the information below as a rough guide to learn the different wash temperatures of different types of fabrics, assuming you know the fibers your clothes are made of.

s/nFiberWash settings
1CottonWash cotton at cold or warm temperature and using the standard or cotton setting, unless you need to disinfect or remove heavy soiling, in which case, you can wash it in heavy duty settings using hot water.
2PolyesterWash in cold or warm water using a permanent press cycle. 
3NylonWash in cold water using gentle or regular cycle.
4SilkWash by hand unless without agitation. 
5RayonWash in cold water using a gentle cycle.
6WoolWash in a delicate cycle using cold water and wool safe detergent. 
7LyocellWash in cold or warm water using a hand wash setting.
8OlefinWash in cold or warm water using a standard cycle.
9AcrylicWash on a delicate cycle using cold water.
10SpandexWash in a gentle cycle using cold water.

Everything in the table is so unless otherwise stated by the care label. 

Can you wash cotton in synthetic mode?

Cotton is a super tough fiber that can be subjected to both standard and heavy duty settings of the washer without any problem, so long as it’s 100%. Cotton can even withstand hot water washing without being damaged. 

Because of this, you can wash cotton clothes in the synthetic mode of your washer which basically offers medium agitation with low speed spin. 

Can you wash synthetics on the cotton cycle?

The cotton cycle basically offers a much higher spin speed than the synthetic mode, and a higher wash temperature so long as you’re not interfering. 

Because of the latter, you want to avoid washing synthetics in the cotton cycle as much as you can, especially when you have the option to wash them in the synthetic mode. 

You can, however, get away with washing polyester in the cotton cycle because polyester is a really sturdy material, and it does well on medium heat settings too.