How to Care for Your Clothes

Friends care for each other.

Your clothes have your back but do you have theirs? When we wash, wear, and rewash our BFF’s (that’s best fashion friends) we might not give much thought as to how to keep them in tip-top shape. These tips will hopefully get you thinking about how to best preserve the clothing that keeps you warm and shows the world who you are so that your relationship can last decades.

A Note From Katie

Love laundry day. 

These little tips are all about making the most out of what you have. Your fashion items are there day in and out to serve you.

Why not take a few little moments to give them some love and help them last.

TLC for your closet

Let’s have a look at some of the ways that we can embrace our clothing through the wash, storage, and wear cycles to give them the love and longevity they need.

DIRTY GAL?

When it comes to knowing when to wash your clothing its all about defining what dirty is for you. Advertising has lead us to believe that there are nasty germs on every surface just asking to be wiped off with antibacterial cleaner. The truth is that no matter how much cleansing you do you can’t get rid of the ‘bugs’ that cohabit your world. Inside and outside our bodies are wonderful microbiological systems where the inhabitants are constantly trying to maintain a balance and live in harmony. Our clothing provides us, and lots of the little creatures that live on us and around us a home.

Studies have shown that populations of critters that live in your clothes plateau after a few wears. Which means that at a certain point (during normal wear) your clothing remains about the same level of ‘dirty’. If you are wearing a wool sweater (which has antibacterial properties of its own) on and off in an air-conditioned office where you are sitting at a desk all day you might find that your sweater may only need laundering every few months.

If you are wearing a polyester jersey for a sports game that gets dirty and sweaty it will likely need to be laundered with each wear. The best way to tell if an item needs washing or not is to check for any signs of soiling or sweat, give it a smell and re-wear it. If you aren’t sure ask a loved one to do a smell and visual check. They will be able to tell you if you are pushing the limits with your eco-laundering approached.

The power of sunlight

While the fact that the sun can fade your clothes is somewhat annoying it’s also handy if you use it to your advantage. Sunlight can kill some of the odour producing bugs and fungi that may work their way into your clothing. Hanging clothing or bedding out on a hot sunny day can refresh and invigorate your clothing and kill off mites. Sunlight is especially great to harness to make your whites whiter. You can simply leave dry white clothing in the sun use some of these laundry tips.

Machine washing

Let’s face it, the washing machine is a godsend. It saves us time, and depending on what machine you have it can save water too. When washing use cold cycle to reduce the chance of shrinking your clothing. Make sure you ALWAYS check the care label before washing and don’t machine wash unless the tag says so. Beware of viscose and rayon, even the stuff that says it can be machine washed can sometimes shrink due to fibre agitation in the spin cycle. If you are feeling brave wash and spin these semi synthetics in washing machine. Otherwise stick to hand wash and wring, or just machine wash and skip the spin cycle. Wool and silk don’t always love being washed in the machine so proceed with caution when washing these.

Many things that say ‘dry clean only’ can be gently washed by hand (don’t wash anything structured and remember it’s aways a gamble to wash anything that says dry clean’) but should never go into your machine

If you are washing synthetics (acrylic, polyester, nylon etc) fibres from your clothing go through your washing machines outlet and can end up pollution oceans. The same goes for fibres like Rayon that are made from natural cellulose, but don’t readily break down in the water. To help reduce this source of oceanic plastic pollution you can wash your synthetics in a Guppyfriend. This is particularly useful for synthetics like poly-cotton blend jersey tees and acrylic knits that are prone to pill balls.

WEARING

A lot of damage happens to our clothing when we wear it. If you have a delicate fabric like silk, chunky knits, crepes, fine fabrics, draping and stretchy synthetics they can snag easily on jewellery or become damages from abrasive surfaces. Jute shopping bags are great for carrying groceries but their corse fabric can rub against your clothing and create pill balls, holes or other wear. Be aware of what you are wearing and where you are wearing it to make the most out of your best!

If you have kids or know that there will be situations where you clothes might be pulled, stretched, or subject to dirty sticky hands try to wear clothing that’s up to the challenge. Choose darker colours, avoid wearing items made of delicate fabrics, and opt for hardy fabrics that look better with wear like denim or drill.

Know that synthetics can make you stinky. They hold the moisture closer to your body, and while some do claim to have wicking properties, you are wearing plastics. After a while some synthetic (sports shirts are the worst for this) won’t end up odour free after a decent wash. If you choose to wear synthetics for their easy-care properties be wary of the pong-factor. Wear good natural deodorant and wash when things are stinky to prevent long-term pong-factor.

AIR AND WEAR

If you happen to have something that’s not visibly dirty but is retaining an odour (like if you stood to close to a smoker) you can often shift the scent with an airing. Hang the garment in a breezy spot (feel free to make it sunny and breezy if you aren’t concerned about colours fading) and leave it for the day. You can spray with a natural fabric refresher (make one by following these instructions) if you are keen.

HAND WASH TO PROTECT Your CLOTHING.

Putting your clothing in the washing machine is a luxury and while machines are continually getting better at caring for your clothing, you will always get increased clothing longevity out of hand washing. If you can, why not wash anything delicate in the shower to save water and a decrease the size of the load on laundry day. Just keep a little mild, eco laundry liquid (castile soap is a handy one) in the shower for you can maximise wash time. Simple scrub away any stains by hand, give it a wring (if the gament says its ok to wring otherwise roll it in a towel to remove excess water) and hang up in your bathroom or on the line to dry.

DRYING

While a dryer is a handy convenience for many. Sunlight and/or fresh air is the kinder way to go for your clothes and the environment. Drying your clothing in a clothes dryer exposes it to hight heat and agitation. This can make fibers shrink, become weak and/or create pill balls or felting.

If you hang your clothing on the line think carefully about how it’s hung out. Part that come into contact with sunlight are prone to fading. Colours such as olive green, black, brown, reds, pinks, and yellows are prone to fading easily especially if it’s a natural fibre and/or dye. Many items will state on the label ‘line dry in shade’.

To prevent fading dry items inside out, and try to hang necklines with the higher point (usually the back of the neck where the brand label tag will be) facing towards the sun to maximise the amount of ‘inside’ of the shirt that’s getting sun. Drying with the scoop neck or V neck facing the sun can result in v’s and semi circles faded on the right side of your tee or shirt. Which isn’t a great look.

Wet clothes can be heavy, especially when they aren’t spun dry and the combo of heavy, wet, fabric and gravity can result in stretching. Dry knitted sweaters flat on a towel to prevent gravity giving your knit gorilla-arm length sleeves.

If something has lost it’s shape in the wash, you can often gently stretch it back into shape while it’s still damp. This will be dependant on the fabric type and the cut of the garment but it’s alway worth a try if you have pulled something from the machine to find it totally warped

STORAGE

Store your clothing in a way that makes them easy to access and gives you joy to ‘shop’ from. When your clothing gets really cluttered, tangled or smooshed then you are more likely to damage it (this includes ironing burns from having to iron out all the creases). Having a clutter free closet can keep your clothes safer from these sorts of mishaps.

Gravity exists in your closet too. When you hang up knits or jersey tees they can stretch over time. It’s aways better to fold anything you suspect will stretch from being on a hanger.

If you are storing natural fibres like silk or wool be on the look out for bugs. You can put your woollies away for a season and find them in tatters come next fall due to silverfish and moths. Make sure you store them with an eco friendly bug repellent.

Got tips for us? Share tips on how you like to care for your clothing below. All ideas, feedback, and advice is welcome! Don’t be shy.

Share Your Garment Gratitude

Do you love your clothes? If there’s something you are wearing today that you feel like celebrating on social media please check out the #Garmentgratitude movement and see if you would like to participate.  

Garment Gratitude