How to Wash Your Woven Clothes (without turning them into doll clothes)

Woven clothes can be such a luxury and delight to wear, to keep them looking great…. And fitting well… proper care much be taken in woven clothes cleaning.  Wool, linen and silk require utmost care and should never be agitated.  Yes, unless you want to send them out to the cleaners for a non-contact based dry cleaning, woven clothes washing is done by hand.  If you care to risk the gentle cycle on your washing machine, there are some tips here for woven clothes cleaning in the delicate cycle too.

If your woven clothes (sweaters) are acrylic or synthetic, worry not.  Keep temperatures low and wash and dry freely.

Woven Clothes Cleaning: Linen, Hemp and Wool

Linen, hemp and wool should be washed in warm temperatures of no more than 30 degrees, they are often hand dyed and you do not want to cause fading. When woven clothes washing these fabrics please keep the following in mind:

  • If hand washing these woven fabrics, you may use some vigour and swoosh the fabrics around in the water
  • Gently rub the fabric against itself all over
  • Rinse thoroughly in cool water
    • If washing in the washing machine, choose the most gentle cycle and lowest temperature.  Never allow to allow spinning.
  • You may dry linen and hemp woven fabrics in the dryer, but with no heat and only till they reach a state of being just damp.  To dry thoroughly will cause damage and shrinkage. You may finish the drying with a hand iron or hang to dry.
  • Wool fabrics must not be dried in the dryer.  Instead, gently wring out the item and lay flat on a clean, dry towel.  Roll up the item inside the towel and squeeze the water into the towel by standing on it or pushing on it inch by inch.  Wool can then be gently ironed inside out or hung to dry.


A silk woven clothes washing is a little different.  Silk can be machine washed on delicate, though hand washing is more trustworthy.   Hot water shrinks silk and cold causes it to lose its sheen… so that lukewarm water is very important here.

  • Use a low speed and short spin cycle, if spinning in your machine
  • Use only detergent for special care fabrics
  • Do not tumble dry silk, or hang on the line outside as it can easily be damaged in these ways
  • Silk can be irons on low heat with low steam.

A little trick for keeping your woollens and woven clothing soft is to use a bit of hair conditioner just after the rinsing part of your hand wash.  Squeeze a small amount of conditioner into the bowl or sink and swoosh it around a small amount of water, soak the item in there for 5- 10 minutes and do not rinse out.  Your clean woven clothes will smell terrific too!