Can You Wash Flannels With Other Clothes The Complete Guide

Can You Wash Flannels With Other Clothes? The Complete Guide

Flannel is a popular fabric choice for shirts, pajamas, robes, and other cozy garments. Its soft texture and ability to keep you warm make it a go-to material when the weather turns cold. But caring for flannel requires a gentle touch to keep it looking and feeling its best. So can you toss your favorite flannel shirts in with the rest of the laundry? Or do they need special treatment?

This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about Can You Wash Flannels With Other Clothes, from water temperature to drying methods. We’ll walk through the key dos and don’ts to help your flannel maintain its softness and shape over many years of wear. Read on for tips on the best practices for laundering these garments alongside other items.

An Introduction to Washing Flannel

Before jumping into the specifics, let’s start with some flannel fabric basics. Authentic flannel has a slightly napped surface that gives it wonderful insulation properties. This also makes the fabric a bit delicate and prone to problems like excessive shrinkage or pilling.

Flannel threads are loosely woven so they can “bloom” and become fluffy. Aggressive washing can disrupt the threads and cause issues over time. That’s why it’s so important to treat your flannel shirts, sheets, and other items with care each time you launder them.

Key Considerations For Washing Flannel:

  • Water temperature
  • Detergent type and amount
  • Drying method
  • Use of fabric softener
  • Wash cycles and settings

Getting these factors right will help your flannel maintain its shape and appearance over regular use and washing. We’ll explore best practices around each area in the tips below.

Can You Wash Flannels With Other Clothes

Can You Wash Flannels With Other Clothes
Can You Wash Flannels With Other Clothes? The Complete Guide 5

As a laundry professional, I wouldn’t recommend washing flannels with other clothes in most cases. While it might seem convenient, here’s why it’s generally best to keep them separate:

Potential issues:

  • Shrinking: Flannel is prone to shrinking in hot water, which is bad for both the flannel and any other clothes in the same load. Even warm water can be risky, especially for newer flannels.
  • Color bleeding: New or brightly colored flannels might release dye, staining lighter-colored clothes in the wash.
  • Linting: Flannel tends to shed lint, which can stick to other fabrics and make them look fuzzy. Clothes made from synthetics or delicate fabrics are particularly vulnerable.
  • Roughening: Washing with heavier items can cause the flannel fibers to rub and become rough or pill.


  • Similar fabrics and colors: You can sometimes wash flannels with other clothes made from similar fabrics and colors, like other soft cotton items. But proceed with caution and always check the care labels first.
  • Small load: If your flannel is lightly soiled and you have a small load of similar items, the risk of damage is lower.

Best practices:

  • Always check the care label: This is your ultimate guide. Follow the specific instructions for fabric type, water temperature, and cycle settings.
  • Wash cold or warm: Avoid hot water to minimize shrinkage and color bleeding.
  • Use a gentle cycle: This reduces the stress on the fabric and prevents pilling.
  • Separate by color: Wash dark colors together, lights together, and new clothes separately.
  • Use a mild detergent: Avoid harsh chemicals and bleach.
  • Air dry or tumble dry low: Over-drying can shrink and damage the flannel.

Additional tips:

  • Turn the flannels inside out before washing to protect the nap.
  • Consider using a mesh laundry bag for extra protection, especially for delicate flannels.
  • If you’re unsure, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and wash flannels separately.

By following these tips, you can keep your flannels looking and feeling their best for longer.

Best Ways to Wash Flannel Shirts and Other Items

Best Ways to Wash Flannel Shirts and Other Items
Can You Wash Flannels With Other Clothes? The Complete Guide 6

Follow these top tips for the best way to wash flannel shirts, pajamas, robes, and any other flannel items in the wash:

1. Check the garment label

The first rule of washing flannel is to check the label for any special care recommendations from the manufacturer. While most flannel can be treated similarly, always follow the instructions given for an individual item.

For example, some may specify “dry clean only” or provide other directions like “wash separately” or “tumble dry low.” Adhere to any guidance given or you risk damaging your garment over time.

2. Wash flannel separately

In general, it’s best to wash flannel separately from other laundry whenever possible. Flannel’s texture makes it prone to picking up lint from towels, blankets, and other items in the wash.

Washing your flannel pieces alone limits any pilling issues down the road. It also allows you to customize the wash settings just for these delicate items.

3. Wash flannel inside out

Here’s another tip for containing lint. Turn your flannel pieces inside out before tossing them in the washing machine. This keeps loose fibers contained to the inside of the garment rather than rubbing off on other laundry.

The inside-out approach is especially helpful for keeping flannel looking its best when washing with towels or fleece items prone to shedding.

4. Use a mild detergent

Harsh detergents can be too tough on delicate flannel fibers. Instead, always use a mild detergent without brightening agents or bleach. Look for formulas labeled sensitive, clear, or dark colors.

Liquid detergents tend to be less harsh than powder varieties. Only use about a tablespoon per load so residue doesn’t get left behind. Too much detergent leads to buildup that accelerates pilling.

5. Wash the flannel in cold or warm water

Stick to water temperatures of cold to warm, but never hot. The heat from hot water causes flannel fibers to tighten up and become brittle. Over time this leads to shrinkage, distorted shape, and potential holes down the road.

Wash your flannel in cool or warm water using the delicate or permanent press setting. This is gentle enough to get pieces clean without the risk of felting wool flannel or damaging the fabric.

6. Use vinegar as a fabric softener

Traditional liquid fabric softeners and dryer sheets aren’t recommended for use on flannel. The waxy coating left behind diminishes the flannel’s absorbency and blocks airflow needed to retain loft and insulation.

A better option is to add 1⁄2 to 1 cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse cycle. The vinegar naturally softens fibers without leaving any chemical residue. It’s safe for septic systems too. Just avoid bleach at the same time or toxic chlorine gas could result.

7. Limit the drying time

The loose weave of flannel makes it prone to shrinking when exposed to high heat for too long. Follow these drying guidelines to prevent a tiny surprise after laundering.

For cotton flannel, tumble dry on the lowest setting or hang to air dry. Don’t leave it in too long or the garment will shrink. To maintain size it’s best to dry just until still slightly damp then let finished air drying.

For wool flannel, always lay it flat or hang it to dry to prevent felting. High temperatures during drying will cause wool fibers to bond together, resulting in a shrunken mass. Be sure to keep wool flannel away from direct heat.

8. Remove promptly from the dryer

It can be tempting to toss your flannel in the dryer and walk away. But it’s important to remove items promptly once the cycle finishes. Extended tumbling, even without heat, can still tighten fibers before you realize what’s happening.

Set a timer or stay close by so you can transfer your flannel to hang drying or fold as soon as the buzzer sounds. Doing so ensures clothes maintain their size and shape.

9. Iron inside out with steam

If your flannel shirt or other pieces come out overly wrinkly from washing, use your iron carefully. Always iron inside out first to avoid damaging the fluffy outer nap. The steam function helps relax the fibers without flattening the texture.

Set your iron to cotton or linen and use a moderately hot temperature only as needed. Avoid any starch or sizing sprays that diminish softness and absorbency.

10. Fold and store properly

Once your flannel is clean, dry, and pressed, fold neatly to avoid new wrinkles. Then store folded items in a breathable space like dresser drawers, not sealed plastic bins. This allows airflow to loft the fluffy nap and prevent mildew smells over time.

Now that you know the best practices for laundering flannel, let’s explore why taking special care makes a difference in extending the life of these cozy staples.

Does Flannel Shrink in The Wash

Yes, flannel does shrink, especially in hot water! Its cotton fibers contract with heat, leading to potential size reduction.

To avoid shrinkage:

  • Wash cold or warm.
  • Air dry or tumble dry low.
  • Check the care label for specific instructions.

By following these simple tips, you can enjoy your cozy flannels for years to come!

How to Keep Flannel From Shrinking

Flannel shrinks, but fear not! Laundry wizardry can save your day:

Chill Out: Always wash cold! Hot water triggers shrinkage – consider it a villain you keep out of the laundry room.

Gentle Drying: Ditch the dryer heat. Air dry whenever possible or tumble dry on low. Think cozy breeze, not fiery inferno.

Label Love: Your flannel whispers care secrets on the label. Heed its wisdom for water temperature, drying methods, and any special needs.

Bonus Tip: Turn your flannel inside out before washing for extra protection. Now go forth and conquer the cold, with a perfectly-sized flannel friend by your side!

Can You Put Flannel in the Dryer

As a laundry professional, I approach drying flannel with caution. While technically you can put flannel in the dryer, it’s generally not recommended due to the risk of shrinkage and damage. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Why avoid the dryer:

  • Heat is the enemy: Flannel fibers shrink in hot environments, and even low-dryer heat can cause unwanted tightening.
  • Rough tumble: Tumbling can roughen the fabric and contribute to pilling.
  • Color blues: New or brightly colored flannels might bleed dye in the dryer, staining other clothes.

Alternatives to the dryer:

  • Air drying is safest: Hang your flannel on a drying rack or clothesline for optimal results.
  • Tumble dry low: If time is tight, use the lowest heat setting possible and remove the flannel as soon as it’s dry to prevent over-drying.

Remember: Always check the care label for specific drying instructions!

Bottom line: If you cherish your flannel’s softness and size, air drying is your best bet. But if the dryer is calling, go low and slow!

Why Treating Flannel Gently Matters

With the proper wash and care methods, a high-quality flannel shirt or set of pajamas should last for many years. The delicate nature of the fabric does require a gentle approach. But taking the time pays off!

Here’s why following our flannel washing tips helps your shirts, sheets, robes, and other pieces retain their shape and soft texture season after season:

  • Prevents shrinkage so clothes maintain fit
  • Reduces pilling that diminishes smooth surface
  • Retains insulation capacity for staying warm
  • Allows loft and airflow for breathability
  • Maintains vivid colors and pattern brightness
  • Extends lifespan without need for replacement

Treating your flannel gently truly saves you money in the long run. Taking shortcuts leads to rapid replacement when garments lose their appeal after just a few rushed trips through the laundry.

FAQs: Washing Flannel Clothes

Laundering delicate fabrics like flannel often brings up questions about the best methods. Here we’ll tackle some of the most frequently asked queries about cleaning these cozy textiles:

Can you put flannel in the dryer?

Yes, you can safely tumble dry cotton flannel provided the heat remains low. But limit the time in the dryer to just until the pieces are almost dry. This prevents over-drying which causes shrinkage. For quick daily drying, lay flat instead to maintain shape and size.

Should you wash flannel shirts before wearing them?

It’s generally not required but strongly recommended to launder any new flannel shirt before wearing it. Flannel is notorious for any excess dye washing out on the first clean. Pre-washing avoids the disappointment of ending up with a pink shirt after the first time in the laundry.

How to wash wool flannel?

Super gentle care is required for wool flannel items. Always use a special wool detergent. Wash by hand or delicate cycle in cool water. Never wash wool fabric in warm or hot water. Skip the wash and dry clean wool pieces whenever possible to prevent shrinkage and felting damage.

What’s the best way to dry flannel sheets?

For quick-drying cotton flannel sheets, tumble dry on low just until no longer damp then finish air drying to prevent shrinkage. To maintain sheet size, always take flannel out of the dryer immediately and avoid over-drying on any setting. For easy care, 100% cotton flannel sheets avoid pilling issues common in blends.

Can you put flannel in the washing machine?

While hand washing provides the most gentle care, cotton and synthetic blends hold up reasonably well to machine washing. Just be sure to use cooler water, delicate cycles, and low-heat drying methods. Promptly remove from dryers as soon as cycles finish. And consider washing flannel fabrics separately from general laundry whenever possible.


I hope these complete care and laundering tips give you confidence in washing your favorite flannel shirts alongside other garments this season. While flannel does require a delicate approach, understanding the right methods helps keep these cozy textiles looking their best for years to come.

The keys are washed with care, avoiding heat damage, and promptly drying. Follow our top 10 tips outlined above and your flannel will maintain its shape and softness just like new after many repeat wears and washes.

So grab your favorite plaid shirt or buffalo check pajamas and enjoy the fluffy comfort of flannel all season long!

Key Takeaways:

  • Wash flannel shirts inside out and separately from other laundry
  • Use mild detergent and cool or warm water temperatures
  • Add vinegar instead of fabric softener in the rinse cycle
  • Tumble dry briefly on low; avoid over-drying
  • Remove flannel from dryer promptly once cycle finishes
  • Iron inside out with steam to relax wrinkles after washing
  • Store properly folded in breathable drawers, not plastic bins

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