Corduroy is a sturdy, long-wearing fabric but it needs a bit of extra care to keep it looking its best. A cotton fabric, it is woven to have a pile like velvet and lengthwise cords, ridges or ribs. The width of the cord or ridges is referred to as the size of the wale and is measured by the number of cords per inch. A lower wale number means the cord is much thicker and offers a softer, more plushy finish to the fabric.
Fabric can vary between 1.5 wales per inch up to 21. The widest wales are most often found in home furnishings like upholstery or pillows.
For clothing, wider wales are usually found in pants and structured jackets and shirts are often fine waled fabrics.
Most corduroy can be machine washed. However, it is important to check the care labels first. Some structured corduroy garments like jackets should only be dry cleaned. While the outer fabric is cotton and washable, the inner materials that help the fabric hold it's shape can be destroyed by washing. This is not something that can be reversed or repaired easily. You can use a home dry cleaning kit to refresh a corduroy jacket and help remove surface stains.
Corduroy Washing and Drying Tips
Special care will help keep the pile from being crushed or distorted. Button or zip garments and turn corduroy clothes inside out before washing to lessen matting.
For dark colored corduroy fabrics, use cold water. White or pastel colors can be washed in warm water. Always sort clothing correcting and NEVER wash corduroy with any fabric that produces lots of lint like terry cloth towels, fleece or felt. Corduroy loves to hold onto lint!
For best results, shake out the garments after removing from the washer.
Tumble dry on low heat for a short time to remove wrinkles. Remove from the dryer while still damp. Smooth seams, pockets and shirt plackets and hang to finish air drying. If the pile is flattened, it can be revived by brushing gently with a soft clothes brush and then allowed to finish drying.
If you have allowed the garment to air dry, you probably won't need to iron it. If you do, be sure to iron on the wrong side of the fabric only. Use a medium-high heat and don't leave the iron in one place too long or you'll crush the nap. Plus, you'll have an iron imprint on the fabric.
Help to Remove Lint on Corduroy
Accidents happen and tissues get left in pants pockets. Washing a tissue left in a pocket will leave shreds of tissue and lint all over your clothing. Usually, you can save the day by picking off the biggest clumps before putting the load in the dryer. The dryer lint guard will catch most of the smaller pieces. Remove the clothing while it is still slightly damp and shake out the garments to remove any clinging pieces.
For corduroy or other napped fabrics, the twisted fibers that feel so plush also love to grab onto lint. Use a clothes brush on the damp fabric to catch any pieces caught in the fabric. For smooth surface fabrics, use a lint roller or pieces of packing tape wrapped around your hand.
If you still have lint, place the garments back in the washer - add 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar - and put through the rinse cycle. The vinegar will help the fabric fibers relax and "release" the lint. Place the item in a dryer with a couple of microfiber cloths (the lint will stick to the microfiber cloths) and tumble until slightly damp. Remove from dryer and use a clothes brush or sticky lint roller to remove the remaining lint. If you don't have a sticky lint roller, use heavy duty packing tape wrapped around your fingers to pull off the lint.
Be sure to clean your dryer filter and check your washer for leftover pieces of tissue. Clean them out to prevent more problems!