As a fashion boutique we’re always cleaning clothes to get them ready to be photographed and shipped. We take caring for clothes very seriously. It's very important to us how clothes are handled and cleaned because we are trying to preserve and reuse as much as we can.
Why Sorting and Handling of Clothing Is Important
If you’re the average person (or just me) your laundry routine might look something like this:
- Throw clothes in laundry
- Add detergent
- Hit wash
- Throw clothes in dryer when done
If you’re one of our more responsible citizens, you might even sort your clothes into colors and white. That being the case, I’m sure the idea of spending longer than necessary sorting and caring for clothes would make the majority of people cringe.
I mean, why not just throw all of it in one load? Other than that one shrunken t-shirt, or those few instances where your socks turned pink you’ve never had that big of an issue doing laundry the easy way, right?
Just because you haven’t, doesn’t mean you won’t. On top of the fact that it prevents a future situation in which you wake up to an entire LOAD of pink or shrunken laundry, taking better care of your clothes is a must because it makes them last longer. This means that you can wear them for the long haul, which in turn means you’re keeping clothes out of the landfill.
Taking better care of your clothes also means you replace them less often aka more money in the bank. When you wash poorly made pieces too often, they’re bound to break down. Instead of spending your money on replacing items every time they wear out due to poor handling, wouldn’t you rather spend your money on expanding your wardrobe?
Yes, doing laundry can be a pain. But taking the extra time also means you’ll be able to preserve your favorite items (you may want to if they’re designer) and keep them looking new. Learning how to wash and dry dark colors keep them from fading too quickly, or shrinking your wool sweaters, or killing the luster of your silk blouses.
How to Keep Your Clothes Looking New
1. Wash Less
I shower twice a day. No really. I wash my hair and straighten it literally every day despite the fact that the hair lady said it’s awful for my hair. Why? Because I want to be cute and smell like freesias and jasmine and all that good stuff. The result is that my hair is DAM-AGEDDDD.
Just like you can murder your hair with too much shampoo and heat, you can murder your clothes with too many chemicals. And just think about all that dough you spent. So just like your hair guys, save some water and wash your clothes when they’re actually dirty.
In fact, some items don’t even need to be washed that often. According to Who What Wear, you should be washing your jeans every 4 to 5 wears whereas Levi’s Chip Bergh says you should NEVER wash denim. I’m not going around advocating walking around smelling funky (Sorry- I don’t plan on being the reason you can’t get a date).
Try steaming your denim instead.
2. Choose Steam Over Ironing
I just mentioned steaming but you don’t just do this with denim. Steaming your clothes between washes will help remove odors and kill 99% of bacteria, germs and dust mites.
Personally, I invested in a steamer a few months ago and I haven’t used an iron since! It’s easier than ironing, plus it’s cleaner so it just makes sense.
If you don’t have a steamer or just don’t want to buy one though, you can use your iron on steam setting to steam clothes. You can also run your shower to steam clothes (while you’re taking a shower of course unless you really don’t care about your water bill).
3. Read Care Labels
I hate this one. I reallyyyy do. BUT I’ll be honest, I’ve started to do this, mainly because what kind of a fashion blogger would I be if I didn’t practice what I preach?
Let me share a tidbit I’ve learned lately.
Not all outfits should are made the same! Every fabric is different and therefore should be cared for differently. Yes, half of what we wear (or more) is made from synthetic fabrics that you can toss in the wash, but there’s the other more delicate fabrics (some natural fibers require more care) that have their own methods of washing and drying.
Some outfits HAVE to be hand washed. Some outfits HAVE to be dry cleaned.
And rule of thumb? If it requires hand washing, you shouldn’t throw it in the dryer. So if you don’t want your favorite pair of black leather shorts that hug your butt just right to end up a shriveled mess in the laundry (I’m not mad), I urge you- CHECK THE LABEL.
And do yourself (and that cashmere sweater you paid $100 for) a favor and learn what these handy little symbols mean:
It’s easier than learning the Korean alphabet (which legit takes maybe 10 minutes to learn).
4. Go Green
When your clothes say dry clean, you should treat it more delicately to reduce the number of times you actually NEED to dry clean. My brother goes to the dry cleaner every weekend. This is SO unnecessary.
You can totally get away with handwashing certain items if they’re simple pieces without a lot of construction involved or they aren’t more difficult fibers like wool.
Michelle hand washes her silk blouses and hang dries them in her bathroom.
You can do this in the bathroom sink. Make sure it’s clean, and then pre-treat any stains on the blouse. Fill the sink with cool water and use a gentle detergent to get rid of oil and dirt. Afterwards, swirl it around and let it soak for 10 minutes, rinse it in cold water, and press out the water without squeezing or wringing too hard. After that just hang dry it and you’re good.
If you have to use a dry cleaner, use an eco-friendly one that doesn’t use harmful chemicals.
5. Air Dry Versus Tumble Dry
The dryer is really damaging to your clothes because the heat causes the fibers to break down much quicker. AKA air dry as much as you can. If you must use the dryer, change your heat setting to low or medium. Lower heat will also keep clothes from shrinking.
Also, I know when I say air dry some of y’all will automatically try to bake your clothes outside. Don’t do that! It causes fading and that’s one of the things you’re trying to avoid.
6. Spot Clean Immediately
Once a stain sets it is way harder and sometimes impossible to remove it. Remember your favorite white shirt that you spilled wine on after just one wear? (That can’t just be me right?)
If you want to save your shirt, the best thing to do in this situation is to run to the bathroom, or if one’s not immediately available, grab some water, soak a paper town and some soap (if you have it) and dab the stain until it’s gone or as close as you can get to it.
Sure you might have wet shirt and flash a few people on your way out of the bathroom, but honestly, I’m sure you can live with giving a few people a glimpse of the goods if it’ll save your shirt. (I sure can!)
Once you get home if the stain is still visible, rub some stain remover on it and you’ll be good to go!
7. Use Garment Bags
If you’re like me, you don’t really want to spend money on garment bags and don’t really get why you even have to.
Humidity, dust, insects, and LIGHT believe it or not can all cause damage to clothing. Those money/fabric eating monster moths are no joke (FYI the LARVAE that’s definitely sitting on your favorite shirt right now is more damaging than the moth it self- your welcome for the lovely thought), light damage can cause dye to fade, and dust can settle on clothing to create microscopic tears in the fabric.
Initially, maybe you won't see the damage, but these snags, frays and tears can wear away at an outfit and drastically reduce its lifespan.
To keep your nice clothes in good condition invest in some breathable garment bags ( stay away from the plastic ones- they trap moisture and cause molding).
They’re inexpensive and they’ll be saving you money in the long run. And if you really want to save money, just buy one or two and place multiple items in one bag.
It works like this guys: Spend some dough in the short term, SAVE some dough in the long term.
I know this is a lot more than what the majority of us do on a daily basis but most of these tips take no time at all!
It’s literally just ADULTING. So be grownups guys. Learn to do your laundry properly.
8. Use Laundry Bags
Laundry bags keep your delicates from getting caught on or tangled and stretched with the rest of your laundry (and I don’t know one person who enjoys replacing those!).
Also, laundry bags can be used for wool sweaters as well if you didn’t know.
Fold the sweater in half, roll it up tightly, put it inside a laundry bag, and safety pin it in place (this keeps the sweater from moving around and rubbing against itself and other clothing which causes felting) then wash it on delicate in the machine, and lay flat to dry.
9. Wash and Dry
Wash and dry your dark clothes inside out to keep them from fading too quickly. Washing machines and dryers moves your clothes around very viciously causing them to rub against each other. Over time with enough washing this will cause fading.
10. Fold and Hang Immediately
Fold sweater knits to keep their shape (don’t hang them because you get misshapen shoulders), keep from wrinkling, and save you time, and keep your clothes away from additional heat such as the iron or steamer.