Tips on Why and How to Wash Fabric Before Sewing

When it comes to washing the fabric before sewing, it can be quite a task! Whether you’re a novice or an expert seamstress, this handy guide will answer all your questions.

Starting a new sewing project can be a fun way to pass the time. The excitement of picking out the perfect fabric and imagining what you’ll create with it is a thrill that keeps us going back again and again.

Before you start cutting out all of your pieces, there’s one more step you need to follow: wash fabric before sewing.

Washing fabric before you sew is different from washing it after (which we’ll get into later). In this post, we’ll explain why you should wash fabric before sewing, how to do it in the right way, and what to do if you forget to wash your fabric. 

Should You Wash Fabric Before Sewing?

The answer to the question, “Should you wash fabric before sewing?” is yes. Washing fabric before sewing will help soften it and remove any sizing, which is a chemical that is used to make fabrics less absorbent. 

This can be good or bad based on what you want, the types of fabric you are using, and for what purpose. For example, if you are making a garment, and want it to be absorbent, then you’ll want to wash the fabric before sewing.

Wash fabric before sewing

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If you’re making something like a bag or pillow cover, where you’d like the material to be stiffer and less prone to wrinkling, then washing first would be detrimental. 

Reasons Why Should You Wash Fabric Before Sewing

It is a great idea to wash your fabric before sewing it. 

Here are a few reasons that will answer your question of “should I wash fabric before sewing”:

Washing fabric before sewing

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    • It gets rid of dust and lint.
    • It helps you see the true color of the fabric.
    • It allows you to see any flaws in the fabric, like stains or holes.
    • It makes your fabric last longer. Washing it removes dirt and other particles that could wear out the fabric over time.
    • It makes your sewing easier. When you wash the fabric, it will shrink and become more manageable to work with.
    • It makes the final product look better. Learning how to sew a garment that is not clean or has not been washed will have an effect on the appearance of your finished product.
    • It helps remove any loose threads, which can cause snags or holes in your finished product.
    • Washing helps eliminate shrinkage after your garment has been sewn. It is important to use fabrics like cotton or linen that tend to shrink more than synthetic materials such as polyester or nylon.
    • Washing the fabric also helps in applying the clothing label, like woven labels and hang tags. It will help to remove any excess sizing, oils, or other substances that may prevent the label from adhering in a proper way. 
    • If you don’t wash the fabric first, these substances can cause a poor bond between the label and the fabric. This could result in an incorrect size or color of clothing label being applied to your item. 

How to Wash Fabric Before Sewing?

Washing fabric before you learn to sew is an important step that can help prevent your project from coming apart. 

How to wash fabric before sewing

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It is important when you’re working with delicate or loose-woven fabrics. Here’s how to wash fabric before sewing: 

Wash Fabric Before Sewing

Washing the fabric before sewing will help to remove any dirt and residue that may have been left behind during manufacturing. This will ensure that your final product is clean and free of contaminants. 

Washing fabric before sewing guide

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Test a Small Area First

If you’re working with a new type of fabric, it’s a good idea to test a small area before washing the entire piece. 

This will allow you to get an idea of how much shrinkage or color bleed you can expect from your new material. It will also help you plan for future projects. 

Check Care Labels

Always check the care labels and follow the instructions with utmost care. 

Guide on washing fabric before sewing

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Use Detergent or Soap

If you are wondering “should I wash fabric before sewing curtains?” Yes, you should. 

Use a mild soap designed for washing delicate fabrics that is free of dyes, perfumes, or brighteners. You can also add your detergent to the water in your washing machine according to the instructions given by your detergent manufacturer. 

Make sure that all of it dissolves 100% before adding anything else to the machine. 


Add your fabric and swish around without scrubbing or rubbing too hard on the surface of the material. This can cause it to become damaged or fade over time if done too much! 

Should you wash fabric before washing

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Let the fabric soak in this mixture for 15 minutes before draining out all excess water by pouring it into another bucket or sink area nearby. 

You don’t want excess water spilling onto surfaces that pets or small children might walk through later! There is also plenty of room available for this step. 


Gather up all excess water by wringing out each piece of fabric with your hands until no more drips can be found anywhere within its folds or creases. Then hang it dry overnight before using it again tomorrow morning! 

Prewashing fabrics

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Ironing is an essential step in sewing. It helps to flatten and smooth the fabric for cutting and sewing. It also makes your fabric more presentable when you’re finished, so ironing is worth the time!

To iron your fabric, place it on a flat surface, such as an ironing board. If you have a pressing hamper or board, you can lay your fabric on top of that instead. 

Next, turn on your iron and wait for it to heat up to its correct setting (see your manual for more information). 

Then set your iron down on one side of the fabric and move it back and forth over the entire area. You’ll want to do this until all wrinkles have disappeared from your fabric. 

Wash Fabric Before Sewing: Guideline for 7 Different Fabrics

There are many different types of fibers, and each one has its own washing instructions.

Washing fabric before sewing guideline

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To make sure you’re following the right procedure for your question, “should I wash the fabric before sewing” follow these guidelines: 

Cotton Fabric

Washing cotton fabric before sewing

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If you want to know “how to wash cotton fabric before sewing,” then this is for you. 

Wash different types of cotton fabric in warm water with mild soap or detergent, and rinse. Don’t use bleach or fabric softener. 


Hand wash wool with mild soap or detergent (warm water is best), then rinse in cold water. Don’t use bleach, but you can use fabric softener if desired. 

Silk Fabric

How to wash silk fabric before sewing

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Silk is a natural fabric that can be washed in the washing machine, but it’s best to wash it by hand.

    • In the washing machine: Use cold water and gentle detergent, wash on a gentle cycle, and soak for 30 minutes before rinsing.
    • By hand: Use cold water and mild detergent, then rinse in cool water. 

Polyester Fabric

Polyester fabric is a synthetic fiber that can be washed in a machine. 

It is recommended to wash these types of polyester fabric at 60 degrees Celsius with a mild detergent and no softener. Do not use bleach or fabric softeners. The polyester fabric should be hung to dry after washing. 


Wash fabric before or after sewing

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Use a gentle detergent that does not contain optical brighteners or nonionic surfactants. Avoid products with enzymes or bleach, as these can weaken the fabric’s structure. 

Cotton/Linen Blend Fabrics

Wash as you would cotton, but do not use fabric softener. It will repel water from the linen fibers making them less absorbent which will cause wrinkles over time! 

Types of Stretch Fabric

Different Types of stretch fabric are a special case when it comes to prewashing. 

The best way to wash stretch fabric is to hand-wash it in cold water, then lay it flat on a towel and let it air dry. This method will keep the material from shrinking and also keep the color vibrant. 

What Do You Do When You Forget to Wash the Fabric Before or After Sewing?

If you’ve ever forgotten to wash your fabric before you sew, or if you’ve been caught in the middle of a project and need to finish it without washing, don’t worry!

Should I wash fabric before sewing

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It’s not the end of the world.

All you have to do is rinse out your fabric with water until it runs clear. Then let it dry before continuing your project.

If you’re doing a lot of sewing on the same piece of fabric, this can get pretty time-consuming. It’s best to wash your fabric before starting a new project so that you don’t have to deal with this issue later on. 

How to Prevent Shrinking Fabric Before Sewing?

Some fabrics shrink when washed or dried, which can be a problem for a garment that is already sewn together. To avoid this issue, you can preshrink your fabric before sewing it into different types of clothes.

Washing fabric before sewing guide for beginners

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This can be done by washing the fabric in hot water and drying it on high heat. 

Once you have finished washing and drying the fabric, check the size to ensure it has not shrunk too much. If it has shrunk too much, then repeat the process until the fabric fits in the correct way. 


Now you know how to wash fabric before sewing!

Washing your fabric before you sew is a crucial step that improves your life and your final product. It helps to prevent puckering and rippling, which both happen when fabrics are not washed first.

We hope you enjoyed this article on “wash fabric before sewing.” If you have any queries or comments, please let us know.

Happy sewing!