How to Care for Stretch Fabrics

Stretch fabrics like spandex, nylon, and polyester are frequently used in exercise clothing and athleisure. These materials allow for easy movement and maximum comfort, making them perfect for workouts and lounging alike. Proper maintenance will ensure your clothing lasts longer. Here’s how to care for these materials.


Spandex, nylon, and polyester should be hand-washed in lukewarm water at a temperature of no more than 86 degrees to prevent stretching. Make sure to use a mild detergent with no bleach since it will cause blotches.

If you prefer to machine wash your elastic fabrics, use the "delicates" cycle and place the garment in a mesh bag for protection. For particularly smelly garments—like sweaty exercise clothing—soak them overnight in a bucket of water with a small cup of bicarbonate soda first.

In some cases, you may have to spot-treat your stretch fabric. If you’ve dropped something that might stain your garment, treat it as soon as possible. Soak the material in cold water. Hot water will only cause the spill to set. Put a drop of mild liquid detergent directly onto the stain and rub it in gently before washing as usual.


Always air-dry garments made of stretch fabrics. A tumble dryer will deteriorate the material more quickly. The garments are also more likely to get wrinkled if they are allowed to sit crumpled in the machine. Hang them instead—preferably inside. Sun exposure will cause the colors to fade.


Stretch fabrics are not particularly prone to wrinkling when washed and dried in line with the above instructions. However, if you do need to iron them, it is doable. Make sure to use the lowest possible heat setting on the iron, applying even pressure to smooth out wrinkles.

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