How to Take Care of African Wax Print Fabric

Written by joshua smyth
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How to Take Care of African Wax Print Fabric
African wax print fabrics have vibrant colours and patterns. (tissu africain image by Ploum1 from

For many travellers, armchair or otherwise, the bright colours and bold patterns of wax print fabric are a big part of Africa's visual identity. A crowded market, full of women wrapped in dresses made from these fabrics is a very compelling sight. Wax print fabrics are especially common in West Africa. They were brought there by the Dutch, and the finest quality examples are still actually made in Holland. They are made by covering the fabric with patterns made out of wax and then dipping it into vats of dye, often indigo. Caring for wax print fabric is relatively simple.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Mild soap
  • Washing machine
  • Drying line
  • Iron

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  1. 1

    Place the fabric into a washing machine when in need of cleaning.

  2. 2

    Add mild detergent according to the directions on the detergent package and the machine.

  3. 3

    Set the washing machine to wash with warm water and run it. If possible, turn the spin cycle off. If not, remove the cloth before the spin cycle begins.

  4. 4

    Set up a drying line outdoors. Sunnier spots will fade the fabric more quickly, but allow it to dry faster. Shadier spots are good for preserving the vibrant colours.

  5. 5

    Hang the cloth on the drying line and fix it in place with plastic clips that won't leave marks on it.

  6. 6

    Remove the cloth from the line when it is fully dry.

  7. 7

    Lay the cloth down on an ironing board with the patterned side down, and iron any wrinkles out of it.

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