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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Cotton-Spandex Clothing: Your Questions

By Dr. Laundry October 22, 2008

Q. I have four blouses with varying cotton to spandex combinations. They are in various “shades of white,” and I would like to rejuvenate them for additional wearing life. Instructions call for a cold water wash. Can you help?

A. I’m not quite sure from your description if the “various shades of white” were original color or something that has developed over time from your wearing and laundering. Spandex-containing items are known for holding odors and being hard to clean. Generally, the usual methods of cleaning normal blouses should work here with a couple of “watch outs.”

The key properties we are trying to preserve here are the stretch and appearance. To preserve stretch, you cannot be aggressive with laundering and drying. Thus, one avoids hot water washing and either air-dries the item on a flat surface or tumbles it on a low setting in the dryer. For best appearance, make sure you wash it in the warmest water recommended on the care labels. Also, use a good detergent at the recommended amount, and I also recommend adding Clorox 2® Stain Remover & Color Booster. Another option might be to add a presoak using the Clorox 2® Stain Remover & Color Booster before the wash to help get a cleaning boost.

Also, it is not recommended to use liquid bleach on spandex items. The higher the spandex content, the more likely some yellowing may occur with repeated washings.