Wash & Care of Hemp Fabrics
Hemp articles of all kinds can take any amount of washing and keep coming up for more. They thrive on regular use and regular laundering.
Considered "Bulletproof" by many experts hemp is an amazingly strong, long-lasting fabric that launders easily. It handles extreme water temperatures well, and can be considered as a machine washable linen.
Over time it produces significant cost savings for owners because it has a much longer lifespan than all other natural fabrics.
Hemp's ultra-durable, cost-saving benefits makes it the perfect natural fabric for heavy-wear, uniform-type clothing. It withstands the rigors of industrial cleaning processes extremely well. (Note: Commercial soap powders and liquid detergents can be safely used and water temperature is not critical).
Because of the highly porous nature of the hemp fiber (i.e., magnified under a microscope it's filled with lots of holes) hemp dries extremely quickly naturally (in the open air) or is easily tumble-dried.
Each time hemp is washed it constantly reveals new surfaces, usually becoming softer with use. Given reasonable care it will render a lifetime of service.
Hemp fabric rapidly absorbs moisture - which accounts for its coolness and comfort when used for apparel or bed sheets. It is also one of the only fabrics which are stronger wet than dry, so it does not become tender through washing.
Generally speaking, dry cleaning is recommended for drapery hemp, upholstery hemp, decorative hemp, and high end garments.
If you are washing plain hemp fabric that has not yet been made into a garment, then it is very important to surge the edges before wash to prevent fraying.
As with other textiles, always test for color fastness and remember that detergents containing Optical Brightening Agents (OBA) may cause colors to alter slightly and will detract from the appearance of the subtle natural hemp. Bleach should not be used as it can significantly degrade and weaken the natural fibers.
Suggested maximum wash water temperatures for hemp
1. Hemp without special finishes - unlimited to include boiling temperatures.
2. Hemp without special finishes, where colors are fast - 65 degrees celsius Note: for 1 & 2 above a temperature of 50 degrees celsius is generally sufficient
3. Fine hand-embroidered hemp should be hand-washed at 40 degrees celsius.
Hemp sheds dirt more readily than other materials and with thorough rinsing comes clean as new after every wash. If stained, use a proprietary stain-remover before washing.
There is no need to use starch except perhaps for the finest hemps, for hemp has a natural crispness. hemp does not have to be tumble-dried - it will naturally dry quickly.
Hemp generally will get softer with use and after each wash. If you need to speed up this process then a commercial softener may be used. Another way to soften hemp is to do a hot water wash followed by a tumble dry, repeat these two steps two or three times.
After conventional machine washing use a fast spin, then hot iron while the hemp is still damp. This makes for ease of ironing and will maintain appearance. Use a hot iron. Hemp easily handles extreme temperatures.
Stretch the damp article to its natural size and shape before ironing. A hot iron will ensure that creases and crumples disappear instantly. Every piece will come up so crisp and new that it is impossible to tell whether starch has been used. Iron the 'wrong' (underside) first. For colored dress hemps, only iron the wrong side. This preserves the texture of the weave.
Hemp is naturally moth-proof and can be safely stored under normal conditions. Slatted shelves will allow air to circulate. Avoid drying cupboards which have heated pipes running through, or cedar lined chests. Both can discolor hemp. If by mischance it does become discolored, wash as soon as possible and dry in the sun to whiten. Place most recently laundered items at the bottom of the pile so that all receive equal wear.