red bandana

How to Wash a Bandana

Bandanas are multipurpose accessories that keep hair out of your eyes, act as masks against airborne viruses, and can spruce up an outfit. To say they offer a lot of value to wearers is an understatement.

The only trouble with them is if they’re not taken care of effectively, they start to look drab, colourless, and go out of shape.

Plus, they end up shrinking! It’s not exactly the type of accessory you want to add to an otherwise perfect ensemble.

If you don’t want your bandana to suffer the fates mentioned above, clean it properly. Follow the steps below, and your bandana will look as good as new in no time.


Tips on Washing Bandanas

white bandana

  • Read the care tag on your bandana before you wash it. There’ll be specific washing and drying instructions on the tag, and you should adhere to them.
  • Use the delicate/hand wash cycle to clean your bandana.
  • Don’t use boiling water to clean your bandana. Stick to using cold or lukewarm water. Hot water may shrink your bandana.
  • Avoid using harsh cleaning chemicals like bleach and ammonia to clean your bandana. Use mild detergents and pH-neutral cleaners instead.
  • If you know your bandana is made from a particular material, like silk, buy a silk-friendly detergent to clean it. Don’t just use a random cleaner and hope for the best.
  • When cleaning your bandana by hand, remove your jewellery and bracelets so they don’t snag the material.
  • Wash your bandana with similar colours. Don’t clean your colourful bandanas with white items because they may get dyed.
  • If you have a vintage bandana, take extra care when cleaning it. And if you’re in doubt, ask a professional cleaner for help.
  • Test your chosen cleaning solution before you use it. A patch test will tell you if the product you’re about to use will discolour or damage your bandana.
  • Make sure your bandana is colourfast before you wash it, or the colours will run! You can do a quick colourfastness test to check this out.
  • ‘Dry Clean Only’ means dry clean only! Take your bandana to a dry cleaning shop and ask them to take care of your item.
  • Avoid using fabric softener on your bandana.
  • Don’t scrunch or wring out your bandana. If you do this, you’ll pull the material out of shape and damage it.


How to Clean a Bandana

In the washing machine

bandanas and washing machine

It is possible to wash most modern bandanas in a washing machine. However, if you’ve got a vintage bandana or one made from a delicate material, it would be better to skip this step and clean it by hand instead.

Follow the steps below:

  1. Sort your bandanas by colour and material type. Wash similar items together.
  2. Treat any stains before the wash takes place. Pop a small amount of mild detergent onto the blemish.
  3. Put the bandana(s) in a mesh laundry bag. This will stop it from being flung around in the drum (use multiple laundry bags if need be).
  4. Put the laundry bag in the washing machine. You can add a few other similar coloured/material items, too.
  5. Choose a delicate/gentle cycle.
  6. Make sure the water is cold or lukewarm (less than 30℃).
  7. Add a dose of mild detergent to the machine.
  8. Put a colour catcher in the machine to catch any dye.
  9. Start the cycle. 
  10. Remove the bandana(s) from the machine.
  11. Re-shape the bandana(s).
  12. Move onto the drying phase.

By hand

handwashing laundry

Cleaning by hand is often the best way to clean a bandana because the delicate material isn’t subjected to the harsh agitation of the washing machine.

The simpler and gentler hand washing process ensures that the material isn’t put under stress and remains in good condition.

Follow the steps below:

  1. Fill a clean bowl with some lukewarm water.
  2. Add a very mild detergent to the water.
  3. Put your bandana in the water.
  4. Move the bandana around in the water for 30 to 40 seconds.
  5. Carefully rub the material between your fingers to remove the dirt.
  6. Note: If the water changes colour, this is a sign that the bandana is not colourfast – remove the bandana from the water, rinse it off and place it on a flat, neutral-coloured towel to dry.
  7. Rinse the bandana under running water.
  8. Drain the bowl.
  9. Refill the bowl with clean, lukewarm water.
  10. Move the bandana around in the water to remove the soap from it.
  11. Pull the bandana out of the water and gently squeeze the liquid from it.
  12. Move on to the drying phase.


Drying a bandana

hanging bandanas on clothes line to dry

After washing your bandana, place it on a flat, neutral-coloured towel. Roll the bandana up inside the towel and gently press down on the towel to extract moisture from the material.

Unroll the towel and leave the bandana on a flat surface to dry naturally. Your bandana will retain its shape if it’s allowed to dry like this.

If you don’t want to leave your bandana on a flat surface, place it on a clothes-drying rack to dry for a few hours.

If you want to tumble dry your bandana, check its care label to see if this is permitted first. If it is, pop your item in the drum alongside other similar coloured pieces and start a short and low-heat drying cycle.


Ironing a bandana

ironing bandana

Bandanas can be full of creases after a wash. So, you can either dry them flat/hung up and hope the wrinkles fall out or iron them.

Ironing your bandana is not an essential step, though, and you can skip this phase if you like.

Before you iron your bandana, check the care label to make sure you’re allowed to iron the material. Continue if you’re allowed to do so. But stop if you’re told not to iron your bandana.

To iron your bandana, rest it on a flat, covered surface and place a neutral-coloured towel on top of it (this will protect the material from potential heat damage).

Then, fire up your iron and choose a low-heat setting. Carefully iron over the towel that’s covering your bandana, and the creases will disappear.

Don’t iron any prints/logos that are on your bandana!


FAQs on washing Bandanas

Can I put a bandana in a washing machine?

Some bandanas are machine-washable, but some aren’t. Before you put your bandana in the washing machine, check its care label. On the label, you’ll find washing instructions, and they will state whether or not the bandana can be machine-washed or not.

If you’re allowed to machine-wash your item, follow the steps above to clean your bandana in a washing machine.

red bandana hanging

How often should you wash a bandana?

How often you need to clean your bandana depends on what you use it for and how much you wear it. For example:

If you wear your bandana on your head a few times a week, you should aim to clean it at least once a week (if not sooner). A quick clean will remove oils and sweat from the material.  

If you wear your bandana on your head when carrying out physical activities and the material is coated in sweat, think about washing it after every use. Or at least air the piece out in between wears.

If you wear your bandana as a mask (to cover your nose and mouth), clean it after every use. The bandana will be covered in bacteria, spit and oils. So, it must be cleaned before you wear it again.

If your bandana is used as a neck scarf, you can clean it once a week. But it can be sooner if need be.