How to Wash and Care for Acrylic Clothes

Acrylic knitted sweater with care labels being shown

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hr - 1 day
  • Skill Level: Beginner

You can find acrylic fabrics in everything from sweaters to socks to children's pajamas. Popular for decades because of their durability and easy care, acrylic fibers are also used prominently in blankets, upholstery, and even luggage. 

Acrylic fibers are quick-drying and draw moisture away from the body. The fibers are resistant to mildew, odor absorption, insect infestation, deterioration from sunlight, oil, and most chemicals. Acrylic fibers can be manufactured to resemble wool, cotton, or a blended appearance with a smooth or fuzzy surface. The fibers hold their shape well and are easy to wash. Here's how to clean and care for your acrylic clothes.

Before You Begin

As with any garment, it is best to carefully read care labels and follow recommended cleaning guidelines for that specific piece of clothing. Most acrylic clothes can be machine-washed. However, some labels may recommend dry cleaning because the trim or inner structure may not be washable.  Delicate items and sweaters should be hand-washed and dried flat to prevent stretching.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Washing machine
  • Dryer or drying rack
  • Large sink or tub
  • Pressing cloth
  • Iron


  • Laundry detergent
  • Stain remover


Materials and tools to wash and care for acrylic clothes

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

How to Wash Acrylic Clothes
Detergent Regular
Water Temperature Warm or cold
Cycle Type Permanent press
Drying Cycle Low heat
Special Treatments Use pressing cloth during ironing to prevent melting
Iron Settings Lowest setting
  1. Pretreat Stains

    Stains on acrylic fabrics should be treated as soon as possible following specific stain removal guidelines for the type of stain. Pretreat the stains at least 15 minutes before washing so the stain remover has time to break apart the stains so the wash water can carry them away.

    Acrylic knitted sweater spot treated with stain removal spray bottle on top

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  2. Select Laundry Products and Load the Washer

    Use your favorite laundry detergent for acrylic clothes. If the garments are heavily soiled, a heavy-duty detergent like Tide or Persil will be more effective in removing soil. Acrylic fibers can build up excessive static, but a small amount of fabric softener in the final rinse will eliminate clinginess. Or you can use a dryer sheet.

    Laundry detergent bottles resting on open washing machine with acrylic sweater

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  3. Choose a Water Temperature and Wash Cycle

    Acrylic fibers should be washed in warm or cold water. Select the permanent press cycle to help prevent wrinkles that are difficult to remove. If your washer has a high spinning rate for the final cycle (usually a high-efficiency washer), set the spin cycle rate to low.

    Washing machine set to permanent press for acrylic clothes

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida


    Do not overload the washer. Acrylic clothes should move freely in the washer to prevent wrinkling.

  4. Check for Stains After Washing

    Take a few seconds to check acrylic clothes for any remaining stains before tossing in a dryer. Never place an acrylic garment stained with oil in a hot clothes dryer because the heat can set the oil stain permanently, making it almost impossible to remove.

    Acrylic sweater checked for stains after washing

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  5. Select a Drying Cycle

    Acrylic clothes should be tumbled dry on low temperatures. Do not use excessively high heat, which can damage fibers, causing them to shrink or stretch and set wrinkles almost permanently. It is best to remove the clothes while still slightly damp and hang to finish air-drying. 

    Drying machine set to tumble dry low

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  6. Choose a Low Ironing Temperature

    If ironing is necessary, use a very low iron temperature, steam, and a pressing cloth to avoid melting the fibers. If the fabric becomes shiny or develops a hole, there is no way to reverse the damage.

    Iron on low temperature passing over acrylic clothing with pressing cloth

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

Storing Acrylic Clothes

Before storing acrylic clothes, be sure that they are thoroughly washed and dried. Knitted garments should be folded and stored flat to prevent stretching.


Ripped seams on acrylic clothes are easily repaired by hand- or machine-sewing. Repairing large holes in the surface of the fabric will be more difficult, and the repair will likely be noticeable.

What Is Acrylic Fabric?

Acrylic is a manmade fiber produced with long-chain synthetic polymers composed of at least 85 percent acrylonitrile, a petrochemical. To improve the fiber's ability to absorb dyes, the acrylonitrile is usually combined with small amounts of other chemicals. Once the fibers are dyed, the fabric is colorfast. Acrylic fibers can be dyed in vibrant colors that don't fade over time. The fabric can be dry spun or wet spun, depending on the special properties needed for particular end-use. Many performance microfiber fabrics are made of acrylic fibers.

Acrylic fibers are among the few synthetic fibers that have an uneven surface when manufacturing is complete. The fibers can be cut into short lengths and spun into threads that resemble natural fibers. They produce a fabric that drapes well and has a silky feel. Acrylic fabrics can have bulk but still be lightweight.

DuPont developed acrylic fibers in 1941 and gave them the trademarked name Orlon. By the mid-1950s, acrylic fibers and fabrics were in mass production for sweaters, gloves, and any product that needed to provide lightweight warmth.