How to Clean and Care for Nylon Clothes

Nylon pantyhose soaked in water next to floral swimsuit top and black bottoms and mesh laundry bag

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Nylon is a synthetic fabric that is strong and lightweight. It is usually easy to wash and take care of, but it can be damaged if you do not use the right techniques. Nylon fabric is commonly found in pantyhose, some tights, track pants, lightweight jackets, umbrellas, and more. Because nylon resists absorbing moisture and dries easily, it is often used for swimwear, activewear, and hosiery. Clothing may be a mixture of nylon and another type of fabric.

Regular Care for Nylon

Usually, nylon should be washed separately on a cold water setting for best results. However, always check your clothing tags for specific directions. You can use regular laundry detergents on nylon but never use chlorine bleach. Typically, you should drip dry your nylon items. Put wet clothing on a non-staining hanger; smooth the cuffs and seams with your fingers while it is still wet. Layout knit garments such as sweaters on a flat surface to dry.

If the clothing tag says that you can dry your nylon in a clothes dryer, you must put the load on the lowest temperature setting possible and remove it promptly from the dryer. It does not take nylon long to dry, so you will need to be diligent about checking and removing the clothing to prevent damage and potential melting.

Clothes dryer set on lowest temperature with mesh laundry

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Special Issues With Nylon Fabric

Nylon fabrics are usually long-lasting, but the more they are washed and dried, the more likely they are to pill and become worn out. Hand washing and air drying are your best bets to avoid this. Washing and drying without machines can significantly extend the life of your nylon clothes. And since nylon washes and dries easily, hand washing is not labor intensive.

If you have ever mixed up a pair of pantyhose in a regular load of laundry, you know that nylon attracts a lot of static cling. To avoid this, use a small amount of fabric softener as directed when you wash a load of nylon items as well as a dryer sheet in the dryer.

Nylon lingerie and hosiery also need special attention because they are delicate. Use a mesh laundry bag for these items to protect them from getting snagged or torn during the washing cycle. You would be best off choosing a gentle cycle and warm water. Air drying may still be your best bet to extend the life of your delicate nylon items.

Black nylon pantyhose soaked in plastic container of water with detergent

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Do I Have to Hand Wash Nylon Fabrics?

You definitely do not have to hand wash nylon fabrics, especially since it is not a tolerable task for everyone. But be aware that your nylon items will have a shorter life if you toss them in the washing machine. If you start to notice pilling on your clothing, this is a definite sign that these pieces of clothing are starting to show wear and tear. After nylon piles, a series of small holes will usually form that begin to get bigger and more noticeable. You can delay this degradation by hand washing.