Let’s be honest, laundry day isn’t our favorite day. But there is that moment after everything’s clean and back in its place when we can choose any outfit we want and feel great wearing it. Maybe that perfect outfit even includes some accessories like your favorite scrunchie or colorful headband. But wait, did we wash those?

Experts say we definitely should have. Just like clothing, fabric hair accessories like scrunchies absorb moisture and sweat, plus they take in particles from our hair products. But many of us overlook our favorite scrunchie when gathering the wash. The good news: keeping them clean doesn’t have to be a chore. Some can even go in the washing machine! So, let’s look at the science behind scrunchies and the best way to keep even the smallest part of your outfit clean and healthy for your hair.

Why You Should Wash Your Scrunchies

Adding more to your laundry pile might sound unappealing, but science says cleaning your scrunchies and other hair accessories is a must. Dermatologist Dr. Daniel Lanzer explains, “Hair ties and hair scrunchies can foster nasty germs (bacteria and fungus), that when coming in close contact with your skin can cause a number of unwanted skin infections.” Yuck!

So where do the germs come from? Hair expert Brooke Shawn tells us, “Hair ties absorb dust, dirt from our hair and hands, and particles of styling products like hairspray and hair foam.” Plus, they absorb sweat. As all of this dirt and oil accumulates on your hair accessories, they become what Dr. Stephanie Nichols, NMD, calls “a perfect breeding ground for yeast and bacteria.” This can lead to skin infections and the same body odors that headwear carries when worn near the scalp. Sweaty headbands after a day at the gym? No, thank you.

Whether you've been dressing up your curls with silk or satin scrunchies or holding back flyaways during a windy hike with an organic bamboo cotton scunchie, you should keep your accessories clean and fresh for healthy hair. And it turns out there are a few ways to do it. So you can choose what works best for you.

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How To Wash Hair Scrunchies

Not only can you wash hair scrunchies, you should. But how you go about it depends on your personal preferences as well as the fabrics. If you’re not sure of the best way to wash your accessories, contact the company that makes them for more information about the materials they use. Regardless of which method you choose (machine wash or hand wash), be sure to remove all the hair and debris you can from the accessory beforehand.

Also: 5 Vegan DIY Hair Masks You Need to Try

How to Wash Scrunchies in the Washing Machine

If your scrunchies are made of cotton, polyester, nylon or spandex, you can put them in the washing machine, but be sure to use cold water on the delicate or hand-wash setting. Don’t have a wash cycle for delicates? Hair care expert Emma Lee recommends placing cloth or fabric scrunchies in a small laundry bag (also known as a lingerie bag) before adding them to the washing machine. This can also prevent lint from sticking to your scrunchie and make them easier to find in a big load of laundry.

If you choose the washing machine method, avoid washing scrunchies with clothing that bleeds easily (like denim), says Alyssa Kaplan of The Scrunchie Club. She also recommends using fabric softener and color-catcher sheets during the wash to keep scrunchies looking extra fresh.

How to Hand Wash Your Scrunchies

For some fabrics, like silk and wool, you should always choose the hand wash method. But, regardless of the material, hand washing in a bowl of warm water helps lengthen the life of your scrunchies. Experts recommend adding a few drops of shampoo, clarifying shampoo (for an extra deep clean) or anti-bacterial soap to a bowl of warm water. Allow the fabric to soak for up to an hour. Scrub them and then rinse them thoroughly.

Love the friction-free hold of silk scrunchies but want a vegan alternative you can wash in the machine? Check out our Organic Bamboo Hair Ties.

Related: 9 Ingredients in Shampoo to Avoid (And What to Look for Instead)

How To Dry Scrunchies

Experts agree you should air dry your scrunchies and hair ties. Cosmetologist Ghanima Abdullah warns, “Anything going in a dryer cycle is going to destroy the elastic pretty quickly.” After rinsing your scrunchies, ring out any excess water, then let them air dry on a towel. Not only will this help the elastic last longer, but it will also prevent additional fading in the fabric, Lee said. Just make sure your scrunchies are completely dry before you wear them again. 

Of course, there's one exception: plastic spiral ties can be dried with a hot blow dryer. But this method is used to shrink them after they've been stretched out, not to dry them.

How Often Should You Wash Your Scrunchies?

Doctors and hair experts agree that hair accessories need to be washed regularly to prevent the buildup of dirt and oils. However, opinions vary on how often that is, spanning from every day to once a month. The answer for most of us: More often than you’re washing them now.

How often you wash yours depends on a few factors:

  • Frequency of use: Do you wear your accessory every day? If so, wash more often.
  • The activities you do: Are you sweating a lot? Spending a lot of time outdoors? Using hair styling products? If you answered yes to any of these, lean toward more frequent washes.
  • Your level of concern: Taking extra precautions during COVID? Have sensitive skin? Not sure when you washed it last? It won’t hurt to give it a wash just in case.

No matter what you choose, make sure it's the best decision for your lifestyle. Scrunchies and other fabric-covered ties are already great alternatives to elastic bands that can damage hair and cause split ends. But they do take a little more maintenance. Not to worry, though, your hair health is well worth the effort.


Photo credit: VEGAMOUR