How do I Clean Modal Fabric?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Modal fabric needs to be cleaned gently to avoid damage and help the fabric stay flexible and colorfast. When well cared for, this fabric is highly durable. Care directions can vary between manufacturers and finished products and if there are doubts, the care label on a garment or fabric product should be consulted if it is available.

A turtleneck made with modal fabric.
A turtleneck made with modal fabric.

This fabric is made from cellulose that is subjected to a series of chemical processes and then spun. It is very strong and flexible, with a famous durability that allows it to retain its sheen through multiple washings. Modal fabric is also colorfast and can be used for a variety of things from underwear to dresses.

A closeup of modal fabric.
A closeup of modal fabric.

Some modal fabric items are delicate and they should be hand washed in cool water with a mild detergent, wrapped in a towel to squeeze out the water, and then dried flat in the shade. More robust items can be washed on a gentle cycle with cool water and then either tumble dried low on a short cycle or laid out to dry. Modal should not be washed or dried in high heat or subjected to bleach and other harsh cleaners.

Some modal fabric items are delicate and should be hand washed.
Some modal fabric items are delicate and should be hand washed.

If small stains have appeared on modal fabric, it may be possible to get them out with hand scrubbing and a gentle detergent. The fabric should not be soaked or vigorously rubbed to remove stains. The earlier a stain is treated, the better; when a stain is brand new, blotting with cool water can sometimes flush out the stain, especially if a gentle detergent is added to encourage the stain to lift. If the fabric becomes wrinkled, it can be ironed at a low temperature. Fabric that is dulled may benefit from ironing to restore the sheen by smoothing the individual fibers.

To avoid wrinkling while traveling, modal garments can be rolled up as opposed to folded. Rolling also tends to take up less space, leaving more room in luggage. Modal garments should not be left on hangers as the prolonged hanging can cause the garments to distort and may also break some of the fibers, weakening the garment and causing it to lose some of its elasticity. Such garments should be stored flat or rolled to protect the fabric while also avoiding wrinkles.

If the fabric care directions on a modal garment, sheet, or other product contain specific or unusual instructions, it is advisable to follow them. The directions are based on testing of the fabric and can include compensations for fabric blends and other unusual characteristics of a fabric that might make generic fabric care directions unsuitable.

Some modal fabrics may need to be cleaned in mild detergents to avoid ruining the clothes.
Some modal fabrics may need to be cleaned in mild detergents to avoid ruining the clothes.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I have a pair of slacks from Banana Republic that are a modal and polyester blend. The tag says to dry clean only (if I had known this at the time of purchase, I would never have bought them). Is this true?

I would think since they are both synthetic fabric and polyester especially washes well, that I should be able to machine wash and dry.


Modal fabrics are so easy to clean in the machine and I let them dry naturally out of sunlight then fluff them in the dryer. I love them.


Now I may be a little out of it, but I'm still confused on what exactly modal fabric is. Is it like cotton, or is it stretchy or what?

Is there something that this fabric is generally used for that I might know about, or is it just used for everything?


If you are really worried about a particular piece, you may just want to bite the bullet and have it dry cleaned.

It's usually not that expensive, and if you are particularly attached to a piece, or if it is particularly dirty, that may be the best way to go.

Nothing is worse than that drop in the pit of your stomach when you pull a piece of clothing out of the sink and realize that you will never be able to wear it again!


Those are great tips for cleaning modal textiles -- I have several modal dresses, and this is what I do whenever they get dirty.

You can also add a gentle fabric softener if need-be, but you may want to spot test it first.

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