How to Care for your Clothes: Secrets from the Laundry Room!
Back in college, my most challenging class ended up also being one of my favorites. One mention of warp or weft and I’m transported back to my Textiles 305 class where we studied the chemical and physical properties of fibers and yarns, fabric construction and finishes. It might sound yawn-worthy, but I was fascinated! Did you know that you can’t wash wool because of the natural cross-link structure of the fiber? It collapses when wet! When it comes to doing laundry, there’s a true science to getting the most wear out of your clothes and keeping your favorite pieces looking new for longer. Here’s how:
1. Turn your clothes inside out:I was casually FaceTiming with a friend one day while doing laundry and she was puzzled as I began to turn each piece of clothing inside out. When you turn your clothing inside out before washing, you allow the inside of your garments to take the brunt of agitation and color fading that occurs during a wash cycle, preserving the dye and hand feel for longer.
2. Separate your colors:
Dyes from darker colored clothing are more likely to bleed during the wash process and more likely to rub off onto lighter colored clothing. Lighter colored clothes will begin to take on bluish or pinkish tones after being washed with dark colors and dark colors will begin to look dull after being washed repeatedly with lighter colored clothing. Similarly towels and heavily textured pieces deserve their own wash cycle so as to not agitate pieces with a finer weave.
3. Wash your clothes on cold temperatures:
It’s good to remember that heat is generally the enemy of clothing! High heat during the wash cycle is more likely to cause shrinkage than washing on cold. For clothes that may shrink, colder is better. For towels, sheets and bedding I typically use warm water.
4. Dry on low heat:
We already know that high heat will cause clothes to wear out faster. It will cause more shrinkage as well as slowly wear away at the surface of your clothes, causing pilling or lint.
5. Detergents matter:
This is an understatement! Beyond choosing a gentle detergent that will allow your clothes to last longer, a lot of detergents are full of sulfates, artificial fragrance and other ingredients that have been known to irritate skin or cause cancer. We really love Babyganics for sensitive skin and Mrs. Meyers for all other loads of laundry.
6. Wash less:
A lot of times, especially with pajamas, both adults and kids can wear them more than once before they need washing. The less you wash them, the longer they’ll last! Only wash when necessary to increase the lifespan of your clothing.
7. Treat stains immediately:
Stains are inevitable, especially with kids! The best thing you can do once getting a stain is to treat it immediately. Some stain removers will want you to soak the piece, others will want you to wash immediately. Be sure to check the instructions of the product you’re using.
8. Don’t overload the washer and dryer:
An overloaded washer means clothes don’t get as clean and often get more agitated in the wash. An overloaded dryer means it’s going to take more time to dry causing more wear and tear on clothes. Smaller loads are better for clothes.
9. Get to know your neighborhood seamstress:
As your kids outgrow pieces, consider taking them to get altered. That size 4-5 dress would likely make a great tunic top for a 7 year-old! Same goes for any small holes or rips. They can generally be repaired easily and for little cost.
PS. Did you know that synthetic fabrics shed hundreds of thousands of microfibers per wash—the main source of microplastic in our oceans? That's just another reason we believe that natural fibers are better!