Caring for clothes can be difficult. Below are some tips to get the best results out of a few different methods and which ones work best for certain items and materials. Simply altering how you do laundry can improve life of your favorite items, and who doesn’t want that?!
Machine washing is the easiest care for clothes. Run items through recommended cycle on the label or based on fiber content. To keep fabric from tangling. And twisting more, delicate items can be placed in a mesh bag or zippered pillowcase to protect them. Machine dry after wash, just be mindful about heat setting. Clothes can wrinkle and fade if heat is too high. Clothing can also be dried by being hung on a clothesline or drying rack, being allowed to drip dry.
Hand washing is a more gently option for fibers that can become agitated otherwise in a washing machine. This method is more time consuming. Fill a tub or sink with cool or lukewarm water and about a teaspoon of gentle detergent. Squeeze water through the fabric, Avoid scrubbing or twisting actions that can stretch or damage the fabric. Gently swish the garment through the sudsy water until the item is clean. Drain the tub or sink, and fill with water. Rinse until suds are gone. Squeeze out water, don’t wring and allow to air dry on a clothesline. Never spot treat silk material when hand washing.
Dry cleaning isn’t actually a dry process. Instead of water, fabrics are immersed solvents. Solvents don’t bind fibers the way water does so garments maintain shape and texture. This is a good option for crisper materials like linen, so material won’t soften like it might with machine or hand washing. There are also products available that simulate this method for use in your dryer at home.
Steam pressing is an effective way to get wrinkles out of almost any fabric and it takes less time and effort than ironing does. Plus, there are plenty of other benefits. It kills odor-causing bacteria, keeping clothes fresh in between washes. This is perfect for items that you can’t wash frequently (or at all), or are dry-clean only. It also works on drapes, upholstery, mattresses, pillows, carpeting and more, so you can get more use out of a steam press. Along with killing bacteria, steaming also removes allergens that attract dust mites. Since steaming only uses water and no detergents or other chemicals, it won’t pollute the air. Ideal fabrics for steaming? Wool, wool blends, synthetic wool-like fabrics, cashmere, silk, silk blends, and other delicates. I was unfamiliar with this method, but definitely would like to try it! Has anyone had experience with steam pressing? Below are a few other tips to keep in mind when using this method.
- Fabrics to avoid: suede, waxed jackets and anything plastic—it might melt.
- Steam any sort of lining first, and always steam items from top to bottom.
- Don’t attempt to steam anything while you’re wearing it.
- Steamers should not be pressed onto clothing!
Becoming familiar with these symbols can help you care for your clothing and other fabric based items in the best way possible!
Here are a few extra tips in caring for your clothing:
- Sweaters in a cotton blend should be washed on a gentle cycle. Many knits made of cotton, synthetics, or blends can be machine-washed in cold or warm water on the gentle cycle with all-purpose or mild detergent. To combat wrinkles and stiffness, dry items on low for 5 to 10 minutes before laying them flat on a mesh sweater rack or a towel.
- Hats and gloves can be treated with the same method as sweaters. Hand wash any items with leather trimming.
- Swimsuits should be hand washed to avoid damaging elasticity.
- Air dry bras to prevent damage to under wires and straps.
- Linen absorbs more water during the washing process than other fibers, so watch what you wash with this material.
- Avoid chlorine bleach and hot water on spandex, a material often found in sports gear. It will damage the fibers.
- Never lose a sock again! Attach a pair together using a safety pin. This will save time sorting later too!
Man made and plant based fibers can usually be machine washed and tumbled dried at low to medium temperatures, but animal fibers like wool, cashmere and silk should be dry cleaned. Always check the label for best care recommendations.