How to Wash 11 Natural Fiber Fabrics

linen blouse

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Choosing clothes made from natural plant fiber fabrics is green and good for the environment. The clothes are breathable, comfortable and can be easy to care for.  Learn how to care for ten different natural fabrics, remove stains and keep your clothing looking great. 

How to Care for Allo Clothes

Allo may be a fiber that is unfamiliar to Americans but it is a staple in Eastern culture. Allo, also known as Himalayan nettle (Girardinia diversifolia), is a tall, stout herb. The bark is harvested because the fibers are strong, smooth and light in weight.

The fabrics made from allo are naturally antibacterial and mold resistant. When the fibers are processed and woven, the fabric has a natural sheen. Traditionally, the fibers are woven for clothes, tablecloths, purses, blankets, and sacks. In the United States market, you'll find allo combined with other fibers or as yarn for hand-crafting.

To care for allo fabrics, hand wash in cool water using a mild detergent. Stains should be treated following stain-specific recommendations. Line dry or dry flat away from direct heat sources for best results. High heat can cause the fibers to shrink.

Ironing should be done while the fabric is damp. Before ironing, stretch the damp garment to its natural size and shape. Use a low heat iron and turn the garment inside out to prevent any pressing marks and preserve the natural weave.

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How to Care for Bamboo Clothes

Bamboo is a member of the grass family and one of the most sustainable products on earth. It grows very quickly and can be used for everything from flooring to fabric. Bamboo fabric has a soft feel and natural antibacterial properties. Bamboo fabrics are highly absorbent and available in a broad range of colors.

Bamboo fabrics do stretch easily and may be combined with other fibers to create more stability. Learn how to care for bamboo clothes and linens properly.

White stripe cotton towels in whicker basket.
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How to Care for Cotton Clothes

Cotton is one of the most widely used fabrics worldwide. The fibers come from the bolls of cotton plants.

Cotton is grown throughout the world and processed into many different grades of fabric from smooth and silky to rough string. Cotton is non-allergenic, insect resistant, stronger wet than dry and easy to care for. Cotton is a nonresilient fiber, and when knitted it will stretch. And, It can also mildew in extremely humid climates. 

Learn to care for cotton clothes and linens correctly to keep them looking good.

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How to Care for Eucalyptus Fabrics

Eucalyptus trees are used to create fabrics for clothes and bedding like the sheets and comforters from Eucalypso Home. The trees are turned into wood pulp and treated with chemicals to produce a semi-synthetic/semi-natural fabric similar to rayon. Most eucalyptus fabric is woven using long fibers first perfected by Lenzing Fibers and patented as TENCEL. This results in a fabric that is extremely soft and silky to the touch.

Eucalyptus fabrics should be washed separately in cold water on the gentle cycle to avoid excessive agitation that can cause fibers to break. Chlorine beach and fabric softener should not be used. Hang fabrics to air-dry or use a lower heat setting in an automatic dryer.

Eucalyptus branches on bedside table next to white bedding

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How to Care for Hemp Clothes

You may have seen hemp listed as a fabric component on clothing labels. No matter where you live, you won't be in trouble for buying a shirt that contains fibers from marijuana's plant cousin

Hemp is a strong natural fiber that usually becomes softer with use and laundering. It is also more absorbent than cotton. Fabrics woven or knit from hemp yarns last longer than those made from cotton. It can be used alone or blended with silk, cotton or rayon. 

Hemp clothing can be washed at any temperature by hand or in the washer. Sort by color and amount of soil and launder as usual. 

Hemp fibers can be weakened by chlorine bleach. Undiluted bleach should never be applied directly to the fabric. Even dilute solutions will weaken fibers causing them to rip and wear out.

Line dry or use a lower heat cycle in a tumble dryer for best results. Use a low heat temperature when ironing and turn the garment inside out to prevent any pressing marks.

Women shoes hemp fiber
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How to Care for Jute Clothes

Jute fibers come from the stem of the jute plant and is known as the "golden fiber" in places around the world. American's know jute fabrics as burlap. Rough in texture, just can be mixed with other fibers, both natural and synthetic, to create silkier fabrics for clothes.

Jute loses its strength when wet and must be laundered with care. Learn how to wash and remove stains from jute fabrics.

Burlap Close Up
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How to Care for Linen Clothes

Linen, one of the oldest known textile fibers, comes from the stem of the flax plant. Because linen fabric is sturdy and durable, moth and perspiration resistant, it brings to mind the clothing of the hot, humid tropics. Linen garments and bedding are breathable, soft and become more comfortable with every use or wearing.

Unlike cotton, linen fibers are weaker when wet and are prone to abrasion, and should be cleaned with care

Linen clothes in a closet
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How to Care for Modal Clothes

There's a relatively new fiber showing up on clothing labels - modal. Modal is actually a type of rayon fabric made from fibers of the beech tree.

The term rayon applies to any fabric or fiber made of the wood pulp from any tree. Modal uses only beechwood pulp. It is not technically listed as a totally natural fiber because the wood pulp from the tree is heavily processed using a number of chemicals. Modal is classified as a bio-based textile. 

Modal is one of the easiest to care for rayon textiles because it is washable and does not require dry cleaning. Learn how to care for modal correctly.

Modal fabric label
Mary Marlowe Leverette

How to Care for Ramie Clothes

Ramie fibers come from the stem of a nettle plant called China grass (Boehmeria nivea). A strong, durable fiber and mildew resistant, it is often found combined with cotton in knitted and woven fabrics.easy to wash but can stretch if not handled properly. 

Ramie should be hand washed or machine washed in cold or warm water to prevent shrinking or stretching. All knitted ramie garments should be hand washed and dried flat. Woven ramie clothes can be line dried or tumble-dried on low to medium heat.

Ramie fibers can be weakened by chlorine bleach. However, dilute solutions can be used safely on ramie for stain removal and whitening.

Ramie clothes are best ironed when slightly damp. Extremely high temperatures when ironing can scorch the fibers. 

Ramie fabric
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How to Care for Rayon Clothes

Rayon is the oldest cellulose based man-made fiber, more than 100 years old. The fibers are derived from wood pulp but treated with chemicals resulted in a semi-synthetic fabric. Rayon is one of the most popular fabrics used today for clothing and home accessories due to its low-cost base materials.

There are variations of rayon that require different types of care - viscose, modal and lyocell Some are washable and some must be dry cleaned to protect the integrity of the fabric.

Viscose, knitwear. The color is dark turquoise. Texture, background, pattern.
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How to Care for Sisal Clothes

Sisal fibers come from the stem of a cactus plant (Agave sisalana) and are notable for their strength when wet and affordability as a sustainable fiber. Sisal fibers are resistant to deterioration in salt water so they have been traditionally been used for nautical ropes and twine.

Sisal is now often found in bath and kitchen accessories like bath mitts, rugs, and placemats. Designers have also discovered that when combined with other yarns like wool, sisal can be used to create a lovely, long wearing fabric.

To clean sisal items, hand wash items in cool water with a mild detergent. Pull the item into its normal shape and size and allow to air dry flat away from direct heat sources.

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Article Sources
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  1. Srivastava, Nupur, Rastogi, Deepali. Nettle Fiber: Himalayan Wonder With Extraordinary Textile Properties. International Journal of Home Science, 4,1,281-285, 2018

  2. Bahrum, Prang Rocky, Thompson, Amanda J. Investigation and Comparison of Antibacterial Property of Bamboo Plants, Natural Bamboo Fibers and Commercial Bamboo Viscose TextilesThe Journal of The Textile Institute, 2020, doi:10.1080/00405000.2020.1807300