How to Care for Your Textiles (Properly!)
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To Wash or Not to Wash
Sick of doing laundry? Oh, do we have news for you. To the everyday person, it may seem normal to wash your clothes every time you wear them. Most of the time, we don't give it a second thought, it's just the way we've always done it. But, hear us out: you might be ruining your garments ... yikes!
We pay a lot for our favorite clothing items, so we should be care for them correctly. Besides, we all know how difficult it can be to part with your favorite sweater, even if it is falling apart at the seams. To prolong the life of your favorite items, focus on wearing them more and washing them less! Washing these pieces so frequently can put a lot of stress on them and cause fading, shrinkage, and piling when they may not even need the wash.
To combat over-washing your clothes, run through the following questions the next time you go to throw something in the hamper:
How soiled is it really?
Don't be ashamed of the "sniff test" to determine if your garments really need that wash. There are some clothing items like undergarments, socks, and athletic clothes that should be washed every time they're worn. On the other hand, your jeans can last a handful of wears. If you're not sure how often you can go without washing a garment, consider things like the breathability and tightness of the fabric. The more breathable the garment, the less it will hold in your natural body odor. If the garment has less contact with your body, the less your natural odors rub off on the garment making it no longer clean.
Can I just spot treat?
Just because you got a little bit of toothpaste on your shirt this morning doesn't mean it needs to go straight in the wash! In fact, it's even better to treat stains directly after contact so spot treating is more effective. If you run into a small stain, just run your garment underneath some water, use a small amount of a laundry agent (if needed), rinse, and let air dry!
Can this just be refreshed?
Some clothes can get wrinkled with wear but can easily be refreshed to avoid putting it through another wash. Either just add water to the garment and hang to let air dry or apply linen spray and give it a quick iron.
Is it worth the environmental impact?
Being more mindful about sustainability can be helpful for our environment, and your utility bill! The next time you go to wash your garment, consider the environmental impact that follows with water and energy usage. If you must do that next load of laundry, consider using cold or warm water to save energy and hang your clothes instead of using the dryer. These small changes help to save your garments and your wallet!
Let's wash less often and prolong the life of our favorite garments. Not to mention, just think of all the things you could do with the time you'll save from doing laundry.
Decoding Your Care Labels
Ah, the lovely tags on the inside of our clothing. To some, these may just be those pesky, itchy annoyances that you immediately cut out. But it's about time you look at them before you toss! Being mindful of the instructions on your care labels can prevent your brand-new shirt shrinking two sizes in the wash or fading from that beautiful color that caught your eye in the store. The laundry symbols on your clothing labels are important and tell you how to care for them properly.
To the average person, the symbols on these labels may look like a foreign language, but we're here to give you the perfect cheat sheet for the most common washing, drying, bleaching, and ironing symbols. Go ahead, bookmark this page to refer to this guide below on all things care labels:
How to Wash
Basic Dryer Cycles
Dry Cleaning Symbols
How to Separate Your Textiles (Properly!)
Somewhere along the way, you've likely heard that you should separate your clothes in the wash. But what most don't know is that you need to separate more than just your whites! Look to these categories below for separating your laundry to avoid damaging your clothes:
- Color: Separate your clothing once it's soiled into the following categories: light, medium, and dark colors. Those red denim jeans are all fun and games until they dye all your white socks pink. By separating your clothing by color in the wash it will prevent bleeding of the darker colors into lighter colored items when saturated with water.
- Weight: Take extra precautions for items with delicate designs and lighter weights. To prevent damage to certain items, separate your heavyweight items like towels and denim from your lightweight items like t-shirts and lace garments.
- Zippers/Buttons: Items with damaging features like zippers and buttons should never be washed with items that can be easily snagged. For example, never wash a loosely knit sweater with zippers or buttons especially if they are not closed.
- Soil Level: Separating your heavily soiled items from your normal laundry will help regulate the cleaning process of those garments. If heavily soiled items are placed with normal laundry, there is a risk of the dirt cycling into the other garments resulting in a less clean washing cycle! Take extra care with these items.
Temperature and Washing and Drying, Oh My!
When it comes to laundry, it can be tempting to cram all your dirty clothes into one cycle and call it good. Although, there is certain care that comes with specific clothes and you should know how to accommodate for all. The process of learning about what proper care can be overwhelming. To simplify, reference the list below for all thing laundry (there's even some steps you should skip!):
- Cold: most energy efficient while being the most gentle and effective for garments. Use on light and dark colors, delicates, lightly soiled and garments prone to shrinkage such as wools and cottons.
- Warm: provides clean laundry without fading and reduces wrinkles. Use on synthetic, perm press garments like jeans or towels and any garments that wrinkle easily.
- Hot: removes tough stains and kills bacteria. Use on whites, socks, children's clothing and heavily soiled pieces.
Choosing a Washing Cycle:
- Normal Cycle: whites, sheets, towels, undergarments, and heavily soiled garments.
- Delicate: Wools, silks, and fragile garments like lace or loose knits.
- Permanent-press: Denim fabrics, non-cotton synthetics (rayon, polyester), and knits should be washed on a permanent-press cycle to reduce color fading and wrinkles.
Bleaching: Try to skip the bleach! This can be potentially damaging to the fibers of your garments. Instead, place your whites in the sun to dry for a natural bleaching effect. Do not use this method for colored clothes as it will cause fading. If you must bleach, use non-chlorine bleach sparingly as its non-chemical nature will not damage the garment if used gently. It is advised to read care labels carefully to understand how to bleach your piece.
Ironing: Try to skip the iron! Ironing can be damaging to the fibers of your garments as well. Remove your garment from the wash immediately to ensure less wrinkles. Leaving your clothing in the washer will cause wrinkling over time. If you need to de-wrinkle an item, bring it into the bathroom when you are showering. The steam from the shower softens the fibers allowing them to relax resulting in the garment appearing less wrinkled.