Whether used in landscaping, agriculture, shipping, or as apparel and craft projects, burlap has become ubiquitous and vital in multiple sectors. The high demand for this fabric is due to its durability and versatility and, in part, its rustic aesthetic appeal. Burlap also has the distinct reputation of being unfussy and simple to work with for various projects. While it has many positive attributes, burlap does tend to wrinkle when washed and may crease when folded, which may be a problem if you plan to use it for art or even accessories and garments. The question, ‘can you iron burlap?’ then becomes of utmost importance.
Yes, you can iron burlap. You will need to keep some precautions in mind, but you can iron burlap. Any burlap you are ironing needs to be clean but damp before you start. A low-heat and maximum steam setting will get you the best results. Remember, different iron types have different settings, and it would be wise to find the one that works best for you.
Also known as hessian in many regions, burlap is a coarse, plain-woven fabric made from the jute plant’s skin. The jute plant is globally recognized as the ‘golden fiber’ due to its sustainability as a crop and, of course, its golden color.
Will Burlap Shrink When Washed?
As handy and durable as it looks, burlap is highly susceptible to fraying and disintegration when washed. Therefore, care needs to be taken when cleaning this material if it is to be preserved. Burlap may experience shrinkage when washed with hot or warm water. One of the most limiting factors of jute fabric is that they are largely weakened by water. This factor is why dry cleaning is recommended for any burlap accessory or garment. If there are stains on your material, blot out the area with a cloth dipped in a mixture of vinegar and warm water.
Despite its carefree nature, there are times when you will need to wash your burlap fabric, in which case, there are two ways you can go about it.
- a) Handwashing
Handwashing is the recommended method of washing burlap. You will need to fill a washtub or sink with cold water, or warm if you do not mind shrinkage, and add some gentle washing detergent to the water. Submerge the burlap and let it sit for a few minutes. Soaking the fabric for too long may cause the fabric to begin fraying. Swish the burlap in the water to help remove the dirt but avoid active agitation as this may cause it to release fuzz and fray at the edges. Rinse the fabric well with cold water and towel dry it, air dry in a well-ventilated room, or hang it up outdoors, so it dries faster.
- b) Using a washing machine
Washing burlap with a washing machine is inadvisable for raw cut, delicate pieces due to burlap’s prior mentioned tendency to disintegrate when handled roughly. Furthermore, this material produces many tiny lint fibers that would inevitably stick to any other material it is washed with. The lint can also cause problems with your washing machine. However, if you are determined to wash your burlap with a washing machine, there are some tips you can use for the best possible results.
- Use the delicate setting- this will prevent your material from fraying and unraveling. Let the burlap go through a full cycle in the washing machine.
- Load the burlap into the machine without any other laundry to prevent lint fibers from sticking to them.
- Use half the amount of normal detergent that you would use for any other load.
- Machine-wash only the pieces you are sure will maintain the structural integrity, i.e., large and heavy pieces.
Can You Put Burlap in the Dryer?
Washed burlap fabrics need to be dried carefully to prevent mold and bad odors. Drying your burlap fabric in the drier may be too harsh on it and cause unraveling. When drying, air dry or line dry your fabric away from direct sunlight to get the best results. Here are some ways you can best dry burlap.
- After rinsing the fabric, you can place it between two towels to dry. Don’t wring or twist the fabric beforehand, as this may cause damage.
- Hang the burlap in a well-ventilated room indoors or outdoors behind a screen. The fabric may take several hours to dry fully.
- Place the fabric on a dry flat surface with fresh warm air and let it dry.
It is best to keep burlap away from direct sunlight as it dries since overexposure can cause bleaching of your fabric, which may cause the burlap to yellow over time. When working with burlap accessories such as purses, handles, and totes, dry them on a flat dry surface and position them in a way that allows you to preserve the original shape.
How Do You Get Wrinkles Out of Burlap?
Store-bought burlap will likely be stiff and unwrinkled. These properties are likely set to change after you wash and dry your burlap. While a few wrinkles are certainly useful in adding to the rustic and homespun aesthetic given by burlap, they do not work quite well in some cases, say a tablecloth or garment. Ironing is probably the best way to get the wrinkles out of your burlap piece of fabric.
Before you iron burlap, you need to make sure the material is still damp. If the piece is fully dried, you can sprinkle some water on it beforehand. Then you will need to stretch the damp fabric into its natural size and shape. For the best results, set your iron at medium heat and maximum steam. Iron on both sides of the crease or the wrong side if you prefer not to have any pressing marks. Ironing only on the wrong side also helps preserve the natural weave of the burlap.
For any stubborn creases, set your iron on the low heat setting, cover the creased area with cheesecloth, and using the iron’s mister, press along the crease on both sides of the fabric.
Watch this video on how to remove wrinkles from burlap:
How to store burlap
After getting the wrinkles out of your burlap, you will need to store them carefully to prevent new creases or even mold from forming. Before storing any burlap, first, make sure that you have already cleaned and dried it completely. Burlap that is stored when damp will easily form mold and mildew. Mold also forms when it is stored in areas with even a little humidity as it readily draws moisture from the atmosphere.
Harsh, direct sunlight, as mentioned above, may also cause bleaching of your burlap, turning it yellowish over time. Leaving burlap in direct sunlight may also cause it to become fragile, brittle, and dry. Find a place away from direct sunlight but in a well-ventilated area to store your fabric.
To prevent stubborn creases and wrinkles from forming, store your burlap by rolling them, as folding can create crease lines on the fabric. A great tip is rolling the fabric around empty paper towel tubes or any other tube-like object. However, if you need to fold your fabric, it is recommended to fold it along existing seams. Rolling also takes up much less space in storage and is a good option for those without a large storage area.
Burlap accessories such as bags that you need to preserve their structure and shape can be preserved by inserting some sheets, cardboard boxes inside them, or anything else that can help them keep their forms. It is important to note that burlap is especially susceptible to odors of any kind. Therefore, you mustn’t store your pieces together with any odor-emitting products.
Should I Wash Burlap Before Sewing?
Washing your fabric before sewing is essential, especially if someone already used it, i.e., for storage. Burlap bags may contain some remnants of the previous items stored in them, such as pesticides. Washing the fabric ensures that you start sewing with a clean fabric.
If the burlap is store-bought, washing it will leave it softer, or at the very least less stiff, which may make it easier to work with for some craft and sewing projects. Since burlap is also very susceptible to certain odors, washing the fabric before sewing will eliminate any unpleasant and unwanted smells.
How to Remove Odors from Burlap
Most bought burlap fabrics have an unpleasant odor, or your fabric at home may have picked up some odor from other objects. If washing the material does not get rid of the smell, here are some techniques you can use at home.
- The simplest way to eliminate or reduce the natural scent of bought burlap is to air out. Do this in an open space that is well-ventilated and shielded from harsh sunlight and rain. Also, make sure that the space is not humid, which can lead to the development of mold or mildew. Airing out the fabric indoors can take a long while to get rid of the odor.
- Use baking soda- dissolve the baking soda into some water and fill it in a spray bottle. Take the fabric outdoors and spray one side, then leave it to aerate for a while. After a few hours, turn over the burlap and spray the other side again. This spraying is best done when the outdoor weather is warm for faster drying.
- If the odors are stubborn, acidic treatments are the next step you could try. However, you need to be careful with this step as you risk damaging the fabric. You can spray the fabric with lemon juice and then leave it outdoors to dry. Or you can create a diluted vinegar solution and submerge the burlap into it for a few minutes, then remove it and rinse it thoroughly under cold water. Leave the fabric to air dry without wringing or twisting it.
- If the above methods don’t work, you could try using a fabric deodorizer such as Febreze.
Before trying to remove the odor or stain, read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Follow any specific instructions provided on washing and maintenance precisely.
How Do You Seal the Edges of Burlap?
Despite its relatively low cost and aesthetic appeal, one downside of using burlap is the ease with which it unravels and frays. Machine washing, tumble drying, agitating the fabric, wringing, or twisting it, are all ways you could fray and fuzz your burlap edges. Fortunately, sealing the edges is a sure way to overcome this and get on with your craft. Below is a guide on the different ways you can seal burlap edges to prevent unraveling.
- Cut the fabric properly.
If you are cutting a straight cut into a fabric whose weave is already visible, all you need to do is follow a thread in the weave and cut gently. In case the weave is not obvious, and you desire a more precise cut, pick one of the burlap threads from the edge of the fabric using a pin and pull it. As you pull the thread, the burlap will begin to bunch. Pull the thread until it comes out of the fabric, and then you follow the line left by the missing thread.
- Sew a hem.
Stitching a hem on your burlap is an excellent way to avoid fraying. Stitch at around one inch from the edges of the burlap using your sewing machine. The edges you sew can be folded or left unfolded depending on the final look you want. You can also use a thread with the same color as the burlap if you do not want it to be visible, or use a thread of contrasting color or cover a stitch with decorative stitches.
- Fray check
Fray check is a kind of glue that seals thread ends of fabrics to prevent them from fraying. It goes on as a clear substance, and after a short drying time, dries clear.
- Binding tape
Using binding tape is the fastest way to seal our burlap edges. Apply the tape with a similar shade to the burlap on the back of the fabric. You can also make your work even easier and purchase burlap that already has binding tape on it from your local craft store.
Spray the edges of your burlap with some heavy starch, and then press it with a hot iron. The starch will seal the edges long enough for you to sew the fabric.
Burlap once restrained to the agricultural and coarse apparel space, has now achieved mainstream recognition and success. From bags (shopping, gym, party) to creative use in landscaping and craft projects, burlap is here to stay. Add to this is its eco-friendliness, and it is here to stay sustainably. So, for those looking to use this versatile fabric where a crisp aesthetic is needed, the question is,
Can you iron burlap?
Yes! With the right iron settings and careful handling, you can iron your burlap to get out wrinkles and creases or even place creases strategically. With proper maintenance, your burlap should last you a good long while.
I hope this piece has been informative and answered any pressing questions you may have had. Speak with us in the comment section down below to give your thoughts and suggestions.