Can You Wash Tights in the Washing Machine?

Tights serve a variety of functions including extra warmth in cold months, fancy dress, and professional wear. Their fragile nature is legendary – the slightest offense will cause tears. Luckily, modern washing machines are gentle enough to wash tights. If you use a mesh bag, there is no reason not to machine wash your tights.

Can You Machine Wash Tights?

Yes, modern washing machines have cycles delicate enough for tights. However, the tights will wear out more quickly when machine washed. Hand washing is great for those able to go the extra mile in caring for their clothing. There are two common types of tights, each with slightly different needs.


The most common type of tights are nylon tights. These are your average dress tights. The weave on them is quite small, so they appear smooth to the touch. They also have a remarkable amount of give and stretch. When cleaning them, it is important to use cold temperatures to preserve this elasticity.


Fishnets have a much larger weave, which makes them a tearing risk in the washing machine. There is a wealth of holes for the mechanism or other clothing to get tangled in. To prevent this, I advise choosing a mesh bag with a small weave, as well as washing the tights alone.

Can You Put Tights in the Dryer?

Generally, you want to let tights hand dry. This is because the heat from the dryer tends to shrink the fabric and wear it down more quickly. Tights are very lightweight and airdry quickly, so you should be able to hang them for 6-8 hours and then wear them.

How to Clean Tights

To safely wash tights, you should follow a few rules. The first is to use gentle settings such as low agitation and cold water. The second it to never put them in the dryer. Finally, you should only wash them when necessary – usually every handful of wears. Keeping this general advice in mind, let us move onto two specific methods for washing tights: hand washing and machine washing.

Machine Washing

Machine Washing

When machine washing, you will need:

  • A washer with different settings for speed and temperature
  • A mesh delicates bag (small holes is best)
  • A gentle laundry detergent*

*Do not use fabric softener on your tights, as it will break down the fabric and shorten their lifespan.

1. Place the dirty tights into the mesh bag. Seal it carefully, being sure to avoid catching the tights in the zipper.

2. Put the mesh bag into the washing machine with no other clothes.

3. Load the washing machine with detergent as usual.

4. Select the gentlest cycle available on your machine, usually wool or handwash is best.

5. Select the coldest temperature on your washing machine.

6. Start the machine and let it complete the wash cycle.

7. Remove the mesh bag from the washing machine, then take the tights out of the bag.

8. Hang dry them for six to eight hours before wearing.

Hand Washing

Hand Washing

When handwashing tights, make sure not to over soap them. Other than that, there is not much that can go wrong!

1. Fill a tub or sink with cold water.

2. Add some of your chosen detergent.

3. Swirl your hand around in the water until you see some bubbles.

4. Submerge the tights in the soapy water.

5. Swirl the tights gently back and forth in the water. Avoid rubbing them, as this can stretch out the fabric.

6. Empty the tub and rinse the tights with cold water to remove the soap.

7. Hang the tights to air dry.

Washing Tights FAQs

What’s the Difference Between Tights and Leggings?

Tights are normally sheer and must be worn under clothes. They often cover the feet as well as the legs. Leggings however are thicker and can sometimes be worn as pants. Leggings almost always stop at the ankles.

Should you Wash Tights Before Wearing?

Yes, you should wash tights before wearing them the first time. This will help settle the fabric and remove any dust from the manufacturer. After that you should wash them only as needed, typically every two to three wears.

Final Thoughts

When washing more delicate clothing, handwashing in cold water is always a safe bet. However, in the case of tights you can also machine wash them. Having a mesh bag on hand for these types of clothes is important, as it protects them from getting caught on things in the wash. You can also wash them alone to minimize the risk of damage. If you follow these tips, machine washing your tights is perfectly okay.

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