can you wash ramie fabrics

Can You Wash Ramie Fabrics?

Last Updated on August 8, 2023

Ramie, often known as “Chinese grass,” is a natural fiber renowned for its durability, strength, and lustrous appearance. It’s a staple fiber, similar to flax in absorbency and density. Ramie fabrics are known for their ability to hold shape, reduction in wrinkling, and have a silky lustre to their fabric appearance.

However, the common question about ramie is how to clean the fabric without potentially ruining it.

Yes, you can wash ramie fabrics. The recommended methods include gentle hand washing with a mild detergent and cold water, careful machine washing, or professional dry cleaning for more structured or high-quality garments.

This article provides detailed guidance on all washing methods for ramie fabrics effectively.

Hand Washing Ramie Fabrics

Hand washing is the most recommended method to clean ramie fabrics. The steps involved are as follows:

  1. Fill a basin or sink with cold to lukewarm water. Avoid hot water as it can cause the fabric to shrink or deform.
  2. Add a mild detergent to the water and stir until it’s well-dissolved.
  3. Submerge the ramie fabric in the soapy water and gently agitate with your hands.
  4. Allow the fabric to soak for up to 30 minutes.
  5. Rinse the fabric thoroughly under running cold water until all soap residue is removed.
  6. Gently squeeze the excess water from the fabric. Avoid wringing or twisting as it can damage the fibers.
  7. Lay the fabric flat on a clean, dry towel and roll it up to absorb more water.
  8. Unroll the towel and reshape the fabric on a flat surface. Let it air dry away from direct sunlight.

Machine Washing Ramie Fabrics

Machine washing can be an easier and more convenient way to clean ramie fabrics. Here’s how to do it correctly:

  1. Turn the ramie garment inside out. This helps prevent the fabric from pilling and protects the outer surface from any potential damage during the wash.
  2. Place the garment in a mesh laundry bag. This step isn’t a must, but it can help prevent the fabric from tangling and being overly agitated during the wash.
  3. Set your washing machine to a gentle or delicate cycle. This is crucial as harsh washing cycles can damage the ramie fibers.
  4. Use cold water for washing. Hot water can cause the ramie fibers to shrink or become misshapen.
  5. Add a mild detergent. Harsh detergents can weaken the ramie fibers and cause color fading.
  6. Once the washing cycle is complete (before the spin cycle), remove the garment immediately to prevent wrinkles and creases.
  7. Do not wring out the garment. Instead, gently squeeze out excess water without twisting the fabric.
  8. Lay the garment flat on a clean towel and roll it up to help absorb more water. Unroll the towel and reshape the garment on a flat surface to dry.
  9. Allow the garment to air dry. Do not use a tumble dryer as the heat can cause the ramie fibers to shrink.

Dry Cleaning Ramie Fabrics

If you’re uncomfortable with hand washing or machine washing, dry cleaning is a safe and effective option for cleaning ramie fabrics. This method is especially beneficial for ramie clothing that is heavily structured, tailored, or contains mixed fabrics. Here’s how to approach it:

  1. Identify a reputable dry cleaner in your area. Ensure they have experience with natural and delicate fibers.
  2. Inform the dry cleaner that the garment is made from ramie. This information helps them use the best cleaning methods and chemicals for the fabric.
  3. Ask about any stain treatment if applicable. Many dry cleaners treat stains before the actual dry cleaning.
  4. Review the garment after cleaning. Look for any leftover stains or potential damage. A quality dry cleaner will clean the item without causing any harm to the fabric.
  5. Store the freshly dry-cleaned garment properly. Keep it in a breathable garment bag and hang or store it in a cool, dry place.

Dry cleaning is an effective way to avoid the potential mistakes and risks of hand or machine washing. However, it’s more costly and less convenient, so it’s best used for high-quality or special-occasion ramie garments.

How to Iron Ramie Fabric

Ramie fabric is a strong, naturally lustrous fiber, known for its resistance to bacteria and mildew. It’s often compared to linen, and, like linen, ramie tends to wrinkle easily. If you need to iron ramie fabric, follow these steps to ensure you don’t damage the material:

  1. Preparation: Before ironing, dampen the ramie fabric lightly. This makes it more receptive to the ironing process and reduces the chance of scorching. You can either use a spray bottle to mist the fabric or iron it just after washing while it’s still slightly damp.
  2. Heat Setting: Set your iron to a medium to high heat setting. If your iron has a setting for linen, this is typically appropriate for ramie as well. Always start with a lower heat setting and increase as needed, especially if you’re uncertain about the fabric blend or the specific care instructions.
  3. Ironing: Place the dampened ramie fabric onto the ironing board. Lay a thin white cloth or press cloth over the ramie to prevent any potential scorching or shine from appearing on the fabric. Press down gently and move the iron smoothly over the cloth, making sure not to let the iron sit in one spot for too long.
  4. Steam Option: If your iron has a steam function, you can use it to help release stubborn wrinkles. However, given that you’ve already dampened the fabric, be cautious about using too much additional moisture.
  5. Avoid Stretching: Be careful not to stretch the fabric as you iron. Ramie, while durable, can become misshapen if pulled or stretched too aggressively.
  6. Final Touch: After ironing, hang the ramie item up immediately to prevent new wrinkles from forming.
  7. Starch (Optional): If you prefer a crisper finish, you can lightly starch the ramie fabric. However, too much starch can make the fabric overly stiff and uncomfortable.
  8. Storage: Store ramie clothes on hangers or fold them neatly to prevent new wrinkles from forming. If you want the item to stay crisp, consider hanging it in a garment bag to protect it from dust and moisture.

Always refer to the care label on the garment or item before ironing, as there may be specific care instructions or warnings based on the fabric blend or treatment.


Can you wash undyed ramie in hot water?

No, hot water can cause the ramie fibers to shrink or become misshapen. It’s best to use cold to lukewarm water.

Can you bleach ramie with chlorine or peroxide?

No, chlorine bleach can weaken the ramie fibers and cause them to yellow. Peroxide bleach is less damaging, but it’s still best to avoid it. Use a bleach-free stain remover if necessary.

How should you wash knitted ramie garments?

Knitted ramie garments should be hand washed with a gentle detergent in cold to lukewarm water. After washing, reshape the garment and lay flat to dry.

Can you tumble dry woven ramie clothes?

No, tumble drying can cause ramie fabrics to shrink and deform. It’s best to air dry ramie fabrics by laying them flat.

Will repeated washing soften and dull ramie fabric?

Repeated washing can soften ramie fabric over time. However, the lustrous appearance and strength of the fabric should remain intact.

Can harsh detergents damage ramie fibers and cause shrinkage?

Yes, harsh detergents can weaken ramie fibers and cause shrinkage. It’s best to use a mild detergent when washing ramie fabrics.

Can ramie fabrics be ironed with steam?

Yes, ramie fabrics can be ironed on a medium to high setting with steam. However, it’s best to iron the fabric while it’s still slightly damp to prevent creasing.


Ramie fabrics are durable, lustrous, and strong, making them a popular choice for a variety of clothing and textiles. However, care should be taken when washing these fabrics to ensure their longevity. Hand washing with a mild detergent in cold to lukewarm water is the recommended cleaning method.

Machine washing is possible but should be done on a gentle cycle with cold water. Hot water, tumble drying, and harsh detergents can damage the ramie fibers and cause shrinkage.

Despite this, ramie fabrics can withstand repeated washing without losing their lustrous appearance, although the fabric may soften over time. Dry cleaning is an option for special occasion clothing or high quality fabric.

Bleaching with chlorine or peroxide should be avoided to prevent yellowing and weakening of the fibers. Ironing with steam on a medium to high setting is generally safe for ramie fabrics, but the fabric should be slightly damp to prevent creasing. With proper care, ramie fabrics can maintain their unique properties and last for a long time.