Tips for washing delicate and specialty fabrics

A bottle of sportswash displayed with a tennis ball and gym socks

Unscented laundry powder is our go-to for everyday laundry (shout-out to Corewash) but we still reach for liquid detergent when it comes to specialty fabrics like wool, silk and sportswear. Read on to learn why!


Sportswear is made of synthetic materials that are lightweight and moisture-wicking to keep you comfortable and dry during your workout. Use a sportswash that will preserve specialty fabric, neutralize odor, allow membranes to breathe and keep windproofing intact.

We carry Tangent GC's sportswash, which is clover scented—it's mild and grassy with a touch of citrus (like a field on a spring day). You can hand wash with this or machine wash on a sportswear cycle with a microfiber wash bag or ball to prevent microfiber shedding.

A sportswear cycle alternates between warm and cold water so that the specialty fabric is preserved while still getting sweat and odor out. If your washer doesn't have a sportswear cycle, choose a cool wash cycle and add a white vinegar rinse (1/2 a cup of distilled white vinegar poured in the fabric softener compartment to combat odor).

Never use fabric softener on sportswear, which is designed to coat fabric to give it a "soft" feeling. That coating will trap odor causing bacteria and prevent your sportswear from coming out clean and fresh after each wash.


Laundry powder can be abrasive on delicate fabrics. To extend the life of silk, wool and cashmere, wash with a delicate liquid detergent. Our favorite comes from the same Swedish brand we mentioned earlier, Tangent GC.

Tangent's delicate detergent is yuzu scented and it's pretty heavenly! It smells light and citrusy, like mandrin orange and ripe grapefruit. Use Tangent's yuzu detergent to hand wash (one bottle holds enough for 50 hand washes) or machine wash your delicates.

When hand washing, remember to be very gentle and to not wring out the garment afterwards. It's better to roll up the garment in a clean towel to get water out and then lay it flat to dry.

When machine washing, choose the gentlest cycle on your washer (the delicate cycle or wool cycle, if available). Use a delicates bag to protect your clothes in the washer.

Both of the liquid detergents we mentioned come in bioplastic bottles made from sugarcane. For more information, check out the product pages. 😉 Happy washing!

Gif of hand pouring liquid detergent in a sink and dunking a silk shirt into the water

Words by Mutia Adisoma
Product photo by Gerald Riedler
Gif by Team Clean

Back to blog