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Fabrics for hot weather and how to clean them

Lady wearing white dress in summer

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It’s not easy dressing for hot and humid weather. Plus, all those summer stains from sunscreen, popsicles and sweat mean a lot of extra washing! So, what is a smart choice when it comes to clothing for the summer?

Here are our favorite fabrics for summer due to their breathability and how easy they are to take care of. Some of them may surprise you!

Best breathable summer fabrics

1. Cotton

Most have cottoned on to the fact that this natural fabric is a winner in hot weather, so no surprise that it’s on our list. What makes cotton so cool is its breathability. Air circulates easily through the natural fibers. It’s a versatile, timeless fabric that you find in everything from shirts to jackets to pants in a variety of styles and colors.

Care tips for washing cotton

  • Sort your laundry to avoid discoloration or damage. Sort by type (knit vs. woven), weight (heavy denim vs. light blouses) and color (lights vs. darks).
  • Don’t overfill your washing machine. Stains stay put because items don’t get cleaned as well.
  • When washing bright or dark cotton items, use a lower temperature of 86°F to help avoid color fading or dye transfer.
  • Cotton is prone to shrinking if dried in the dryer. Let your cotton clothes air-dry—which is easy to do in the summer!

2. Linen

How do you keep it light and breezy in heat or humidity? Wear linen! It was made for hot weather. The light weave of the natural flax fibers makes linen the coolest of the cool. It’s also effortlessly chic to wear, from tops to pants to a full linen suit!

Care tips for washing linen

  • Check the label to see if hand washing or dry cleaning is required.
  • If not, wash linen on a gentle cycle with cold water
  • Don’t overstuff the load. It can twist or pull the linen fabric out of shape.
  • Only wash linen with similar items in terms of color, weight and washing instructions.
  • If you purchase linen clothing that was not pre-washed, it will likely shrink a bit after the first wash, regardless of the temperature.
  • Linen wrinkles. If you don’t feel like ironing (or don’t own an iron), flatten out the wrinkles as much as possible with your hands after washing, then air-dry flat. 

3. Chambray


Can’t kick your denim habit but also can’t stand chafing? You need more chambray in your life! Chambray is denim’s softer, lighter little sister thanks to its finer weave and breathability. It’s got the stylish look of denim, the lightness of linen and the low-maintenance appeal of polyester—a dream to wear in the summer!

Care tips for washing chambray

  • As chambray is usually 100% cotton, it washes as easily as cotton. Always follow the clothing’s care label for washing instructions.
  • Washing below 104°F significantly reduces any risk of shrinkage. 

4. Jersey

What are most of our T-shirts, pajamas and sweaters made from? Jersey. The breathable, stretchable, totally versatile fabric is a fab choice for hot weather. It’s a machine-knitted fabric that can be made from different yarns: cotton, rayon, polyester or wool. So, always check the label before washing as different jersey blends can require different care.

Care tips for washing jersey

  • Protect your jersey garment in the wash by turning it inside out or placing it in a mesh laundry bag.
  • Machine wash on a delicate cycle with cool temperatures and a low spin cycle.
  • Lay item flat when air-drying for best results, or tumble dry on the lowest temperature.
  • A steamer works best to get wrinkles out. 

5. Merino wool

Surprise! Merino wool isn’t just for cold weather. It’s super breathable and naturally wicks moisture away from the skin, keeping you cooler and drier—these characteristics are also what make it one of the best fabrics for winter, too. Unlike cotton or linen, summer-weight wool doesn’t wrinkle.

Care tips for washing wool

  • Check out our complete guide to washing wool, but the main thing to keep in mind is washing on a delicate (wool) cycle at a low temperature—hot water shrinks wool!
  • Turn your merino wool clothing inside out to protect it in the wash.
  • Add wool-safe detergent. Don’t use softener as it can coat merino wool fibers, making it less effective at regulating heat and wicking away moisture.

And, lastly, the worst fabrics to wear in summer

Avoid man-made fabrics like nylon, acrylic, rayon and polyester. They don’t breathe. Other fabrics to steer clear of in the heat and humidity are denim, fleece, leather and vinyl. They have their moment to shine, but the height of summer is not it!

Now that you know what to wear in the summer, get the lowdown on summer stain removal and keep your summer wardrobe fresh and clean! And make sure you register with Ask Team Clean to get more advice and rewards sent to you!