A few words on washing buttons – I’m often asked if buttons are washable and generally the answer is, yes. Fasteners and buttons on ready to wear garments are made of a variety of materials and I can’t remember seeing any advice to remove them before washing.
Polyester – wash by hand or in a machine but I would advise at a low temperature. Be careful not to damage with a hot iron though.
Urea – not as common as poly’ but it has advantages. Urea is quite heat resistant so good if you need to use a hot iron on fabrics such as, linen and cotton. Washable.
Metal – washable but please make sure they are dried properly before storing your garment.
Corozo/tagua – can be washed by hand or in a machine at 30 degrees but only on a short wash
Shell – wash by hand or machine at 30 degrees. If the button is large it is better to wash by hand as the spin can crush the buttons especially if there is a lot of laundry in the drum.
Wood – if buttons are unvarnished the recommendation from most manufacturers is not to wash. After after saying this I wash mine and they’re mostly okay. I do wash them by hand (not hand wash in a machine) so they’re not in water for too long. Wood will swell if it’s submerged in water for a long time and as it shrinks back a decorative surface may be damaged. Polished (not varnished) wood buttons should not be washed as the surface will become dull. It is also a good idea to colour test if you plan to attach to a knit or cloth that is much lighter.
Bamboo – see above. Make sure to dry properly.
Cork – It is recommended hand wash only in cool water. In the photo’ you will see cork buttons that I have washed in a machine at 30 degrees with normal detergent and they are fine but this was at my risk.
Horn – mostly hand wash in cool water. The small shirt size buttons have been through many cool machine washes on my own makes and they survived well. The surface may dull a little but they still look fine.
Bone – washable at cool temperature.
Laminated buttons – quick cool wash by hand and dry thoroughly or moisture will get between the layers.
Other considerations worth thinking about are, the detergent used and how tightly the machine is packed with clothes and the speed of the spin cycle. Please note where ‘hand washing’ is referred to this is washing by hand – not using a washing machine hand wash cycle.