Everything you need to know to properly wash and preserve the life of your delicate tights. With proper care, you can keep your tights in great shape for as long as possible!
I don't wear tights very often, but when I do, I really like how they make me feel. They pull an outfit together and add a nice layer of warmth. They are especially great for dressing up in the winter!
The only things I don't like about tights are how much they cost and how easy they are to ruin. They definitely require a little bit of thought to maintain if you want to wear them more than once!
We've all been there, right? You buy a new pair of tights, go to put them on and immediately snag them on a nail or a ring. GAH!!!! Ruined!
And then because they are so fragile, I was always so afraid to wash them. The washing machine isn't exactly the most gentle place to be thrown into, you know.
I've compiled my simple tips on how to maintain and wash your tights so they will last as long as possible. But I've also included what I've done that hasn't technically been ideal, but my tights have still come out fine. Sometimes there just isn't time to do things the "best" way! You choose what works for you.
How Often Should You Wash Tights?
Tights should be washed before their first use and only as needed after that (usually every 2-3 wears or if they are obviously dirty). Since tights are so delicate, you don't want to wash them more than is necessary as washing can wear down the fabric.
Can You Wash Tights In The Washer?
Hand washing is ideal as it is the most gentle (here is a quick tutorial on how to properly do that). Tights may be washed effectively and safely in a washing machine, but only when following certain precautions. Always first read the washing instructions on the label of your tights to see what is recommended by the manufacturer and follow that for best results.
My #1 tip for washing tights in the washer is USE A MESH / LINGERIE BAG! Do not machine wash your tights without one of these. It will keep your tights from wrapping around clothes or the agitator and getting stretched and/or ripped. It also help somewhat in preventing lint from getting on your tights. (We all know that's basically impossible to get off!)
I like this method because once I'm done wearing them and I know they need washing, I zip them up in my mesh bag and throw them in my laundry basket with my regular clothes, and I know they'll get washed with everything else, and not forgotten.
If you don't yet have a mesh laundry bag, you can use a thin pillow case and tie the end shut so your tights won't come out. This doesn't work as well as a mesh bag, but still can adequately protect the tights during washing.
The best way to keep lint off tights is to turn them inside out before placing them in the mesh bag. It only takes a minute and your tights will look much cleaner in the end.
Should Tights Be Washed With Other Laundry?
A lot of people will tell you it's best to wash tights and other items made from delicate fabrics separately from other items. This is of course the best practice. If you have many delicate items that you use regularly, put them aside and do a separate load.
However, for my routine, I find it impractical. I don't wear tights that often and don't have a lot of other delicate items, not enough to even make a small load of laundry.
My rule of thumb has been to wash the tights inside out in my mesh bag with regular clothing and items that don't produce a lot of lint. I never wash my tights with towels, fleece, flannel or anything fuzzy. If I stick to this rule, I have no issues washing my tights with other laundry items.
What Setting To Wash Tights At
Since tights are delicate, machine washing on the delicate cycle (sometimes called the gentle cycle or hand wash cycle) is the ideal option. Since I am often washing my tights with other lightly used clothing items, I have been known to use the normal wash cycle, with no obvious effects (as long as tights are in the mesh bag). However, I know that the more intense cycles can cause the tights to wear out sooner and lose their original shape, so it isn't the best option in the long term. Every pair of tights is different, so do what you are comfortable with.
Detergent and Fabric Softener
Use a mild detergent and leave out the fabric softener, which can break down the synthetic fibers that make your tights nice and stretchy.
At What Temperature Do You Wash Tights?
Cold water or cool water, always! Hot water can mess with the elasticity of the tights, resulting in a loose or strange fit.
Can Tights Go In The Dryer?
Short answer: no. Have I done it? Yes. First, consult the care label of your tights to find out if it isn't recommended by the manufacturer. If it isn't, simply lay flat to dry on a drying rack or a flat surface, like a dresser, covered with a dry towel. Avoid hanging to dry, as this can stretch the tights. If it is okay according the label, use the lowest heat and gentlest setting your drying machine has to offer. The high heat of the dryer and constant movement can thin the tights, so if you have the time, it's best to lay flat to dry.
If you wish to remove a little bit of excess water before laying to dry, DO NOT wring your tights out. Gently press them against the side of washer drum or in a clean sink. Wringing will stretch and misshape them.
Tips to Extend the Life of Your Tights
- Trim Your Nails. Keep your nails neatly trimmed and free of rough edges that could easily snag your tights and cause a run (aka $10 down the drain).
- Avoid rings and bracelets. Rings and bracelets often have edges or little hooks that can easily catch on to tights and cause rips and runs.
- Purchase a larger size. I used to go along with the sizing charts on the packaging. After way too many times purchasing tights and barely being able to put them on because it felt like at any second my leg would bust through them, I started buying a size or two up. This will usually result in a slightly more opaque finish, but it's much easier to work with and less likely to rip when putting on.
- Gather from the waist to the toe with your thumbs on the inside so you can carefully pull the tights up your leg. This will reduce the chance of snagging on a toenail or ripping from forcing the tights on.
What other tips do you have for keeping tights clean and beautiful? Let me know in the comments!