Want to give your clothes the attention they deserve?
These little washing tidbits should help you care for your clothing better. Remember that the following is just a guide and that the best info for wash and wear is the care label. I take no responsibility for any laundry mishaps that result from this info. However, if follow your intuition and the care label about how to wash mishaps are usually few and far between.
Hand wash only using a wool or delicates specific natural detergent (you can sometimes get away with regular detergent for synthetics). Try to use cool or lukewarm water. Don’t wring these items as they can loose their shape. Instead roll in a towel to absorb excess water. Pull into shape while damp (if washing has made it loose shape) then dry flat -a clothes airer is great for this! Some wool and chunky knits are machine friendly but assume your item isn’t machine wash unless the care label says it is.
Cool or lukewarm wash in a delicate detergent. Don’t wring or spin these items unless the care label specifies you can. More often than not you can get away with an airing to get rid of odours or some time in the sun to kill bacteria (just be careful of fading or fabric deterioration in the sun). If you are really concerned and the care label says dry clean then take it to an Eco conscious dry cleaners to ensure the longevity of the item.
Hand wash lingerie in a delicate detergent. Depending on the type of lingerie you wear (general cotton basics or the fancy embellished stuff) you may be able to spin or wring, but anything with clips and underwire is best treated as delicate to get the longevity you would expect from a foundation garment. Swimwear should be rinsed after every wear. You can wash some (depending on what the care label says) in the machine with a delicate detergent. Dry in shade. You can get lingerie wash bags for machine washing of underwear and swimwear and while they are better than throwing them in the machine without one your items won’t last as long as they would if you hand washed.
Depending on your desired wear look denim washing can be as frequent or infrequent as you like. Rule of thumb is wash when smelly and/or visibly dirty. Always wash inside out and remember that the more you wash and the more sun they get the more wear and fade your denim will have. So if you like the faded look you can accelerate wear signs by laundering more frequently (but this is more carbon and water intensive).
If you have structured suits, jackets, dresses and the like it’s generally a good idea to get a professional to look after them. If you are game and think you can get away with it you can sometimes hand wash these items. But do so at your peril! Many fabulous garments are labeled ‘dry clean only’ and can actually be hand washed but it is a gamble.
These items are long lasting (and quote often investment pieces) and usually don’t need laundering unless they experience an unexpected spill or other tragic event. Care for these items with natural leather protectants. If a spill occurs (depending on the fabric) wipe clean with a damp cloth and wipe or pat dry. If a deep clean is needed then take it to a leather and/or suede specialist. Ask your local shoe repair store for the right brushes, polishes and cloths for caring for your items. Leather clothing will normally need a wipe down and an air after wear to make sure they aren’t damp or sweaty as they can be a good breeding ground for mould and mildew.
Depending on the care labels most of these types of items are easy machine wash and line or tumble dry. It will be garment specific so always look at the care label prior to washing. It’s always a good idea to dry inside out on the line to avoid fade marks. Always line dry over tumble dry to keep your carbon footprint down!
If something comes to you with no care label it’s always a good idea to hand wash and drip dry. However if you are confident that your label free item could go in the machine, try a cool wash with a mild or delicate detergent. Spin cycle at your own peril, if you have items that are viscose or rayon (usually a lightweight and/or silky feel) or woollen, then the agitation from spinning can cause shrinkage.