linen and cotton clothing attached to clothesline on blue background

How to Wash Your Favorite Spring and Summer Fabrics

The weather is warmer - bring on the summer fabrics! Learn how to care for silk, cotton and more.

With summer right around the corner, it’s time to break out lightweight clothes! We’re talking cotton T-shirts, linen blouses and button-down shirts, and lightweight, stretchy knits like jersey. But while these fabrics are an essential part of your spring and summer wardrobe, they require a little more TLC than the sturdy fabrics that get you through the fall and winter. Don’t be daunted! You can keep your favorite warm-weather clothing looking its best by checking out our helpful tips.

Cotton is an ideal spring and summer fabric: It’s cool and gentle against your skin and comes in a variety of bright colors. But it’s also notoriously prone to shrinking, so be careful when washing 100 percent cotton and cotton blends. If an item has been “sanforized” (another word for “preshrunk” – usually printed on the care label), it’s safe to stick in a hot wash, especially if it has a tough stain. Otherwise, stick to a cooler wash and add Tide Plus Cold Water Clean, which is formulated to deliver a brilliant clean at low temperatures, and some Downy liquid fabric conditioner to prevent stretching and fading. Hang cotton clothes to dry.

If you’re short of time and need to tumble dry your cotton clothes, take them out before they’re done and allow them to finish drying naturally. You can also safely iron cotton – doing so is a great way to stretch out clothes that have shrunk a little. If the garment has embroidery or other embellishments, turn it inside out and iron the underside to preserve the detailing.

Nothing says summer like linen! Although it has a reputation for being hard to care for, linen is lightweight, breathable and durable, making it great for all kinds of outdoor activities. You can either machine wash or hand wash it, too.

  • If machine washing: Use a mild detergent on a moderate-to-cool cycle. Linen is prone to creasing because it absorbs so much water, so remove it from the machine as soon as the cycle has finished, stretch it out and reshape before air drying. Tumble drying your linens will cause them to shrink – you have been warned!
  • If hand washing: You’ll get a good result every time if you know how to properly hand wash your clothes. For linen, use warm water with Tide liquid detergent, swirl around to dissolve in the water before adding the garment and soak for up to an hour to ensure all fibers are thoroughly wet. Agitate gently to dislodge dirt and remove stains, and then rinse in clean water three times, squeezing out excess water after each rinse. Reshape while damp, and then air dry.

Jersey is lightweight, stretchy and cool – great for anyone who leads an active, on-the-go lifestyle (that’s you, right?). As long as it’s not heavily stained, you can machine wash jersey at cool temperatures. For heavy staining, soak the garment in a solution of Tide Ultra Stain Release before putting it in the washing machine. Reshape while damp and then air dry – tumble drying risks shrinking your favorite T-shirt.

It’s amazing how quickly whites can turn yellow or gray. Here’s how to keep them sparkling:

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  • Treat stains as soon as possible. Keep a Tide-to-Go instant stain remover pen handy to help treat stains right after they happen. If you have to wait until you get home, wash with Tide Ultra Stain Release, and adjust the water temperature according to the type of stain. If the stain is greasy, use warm water, and for everything else, cold is best.
  • For normal, everyday wear, it’s fine to wash whites at warm or hot temperatures. Wash whites on their own for best results, and hang in the sunshine to dry for a natural bleaching effect. (If air drying isn’t an option, you can still give your clothes an outdoor-fresh scent by using Bounce dryer sheets in the dry cycle.)

Tip: When the weather gets warm, it’s just as important to keep your clothes smelling as clean as they look. Add Unstopables in-wash scent booster to every load to add fresh, long-lasting scent (it lasts up to 12 weeks from wash until wear!) to your entire summer wardrobe.

How do you keep your clothes looking like new? We’d love to hear your tips – share your best ones below!

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