HOW TO WASH YOUR CLOTHES PROPERLY
If you’re making an effort to move towards a more sustainable approach to your wardrobe, here’s what should be at the top of your list: knowing how to take care of the clothes you invest in and make them last longer. This includes how to wash your clothes. Regular washing can take a toll on your favorite designer items, but there are a few simple steps to take that will keep them looking their best for longer.
HOW TO WASH & LOOK AFTER YOUR FAVORITE DESIGNER CLOTHES
The first thing to check before placing an item in the laundry basket is whether it really needs to be washed. Sounds like a no-brainer — but it’s all too easy to just throw garments into a wash when in fact, they’d be fine with a freshen-up instead. Over-washing is the main reason a wardrobe favorite might fade, shrink, or lose its shape. If a garment just needs to be refreshed, it can be hung outside or in a steamy bathroom, or if you have a hand-held steamer, use this to deodorize clothes (avoiding any melting or delicate fabrics).
If you do decide to go ahead with a wash, different materials require different care, so when thinking about how to wash your laundry always check the care labels. Where wool, cashmere, and some delicate items are likely to need handwashing, most clothing can be washed in a machine. The temperature given on a care label is the maximum temperature an item can be washed at, and — newsflash — not the recommended temperature. Washing below the maximum can reduce the risk of shrinking or fading clothes, whilst keeping them just as clean. The only exception to this is items that come into close contact with your skin, for example underwear, which usually require a higher temperature to remove bacteria.
When placing clothes in the washing machine it’s best to turn them inside out and close all zips and fastenings to avoid friction and minimize abrasions on your clothing. For delicate items, you can also prevent friction by investing in mesh laundry bags. Over or underfilling the washing machine can actually cause damage to garments, too. Make sure to check the maximum load for your particular machine.
Another way to reduce clothing damage is to air dry it. Even on a gentle setting, dryers are likely to cause wear and tear. Instead, hang clothing on a washing line or drying rack. Delicate items such as jumpers and underwear may need to be dried flat, so make sure to check their labels.
HOW TO WASH WHITE CLOTHES
1 - Sort your washing into colors
You might think modern technology would have you covered, but a good old-fashioned sorting session is still the single best way to avoid whites becoming discolored. White pieces should never be mixed with colors and it’s also best to separate out the more delicate items, such as blouses, from those that should be washed at a higher heat, like bedding. Additionally, separating very soiled clothing from less dirty clothing prevents transfer of dirt from one item to another.
2 - Be scrupulous with your detergent
Switching to a washing powder, as opposed to a liquid detergent, is more likely to remove the dirt that is making your whites appear greying or dull. Using more also does not necessarily mean cleaner clothes. In fact, excess detergent left on your clothing can attract dirt. If you feel your detergent needs a boost or to get clothes white again, use one with optical brighteners or try adding half a cup of bicarbonate of soda to your whites’ wash.
3 - Check the best temperature
For white clothes, it’s best to use the warmest water recommended for the fabric. Higher temperatures are more likely to remove grime, cosmetics and body oils — but — make sure all surface stains are removed before washing, as hot water can actually set the stain.
4 - Dry them carefully
Once your whites have been washed it’s best to air dry them outside in direct sunlight. The UV rays can have a bleaching effect and get rid of any remaining germs.
HOW TO WASH DARK COLORS
1 - Wash Cold & Quick
When deciding how to wash dark clothes, it’s best to sort and wash similar shades together on the shortest cold-water cycle possible to minimize fading and preserve their color. Using hot water can cause the fabric to loosen and release dye. If you are concerned about the color running, do a test with warm water in a sink before placing the item in a washing machine. If it bleeds, it’s best to hand wash the garment. Cotton and denim are particular culprits for releasing dye, so always check these before their first wash.
2 - Be Careful with Detergent
In contrast to washing your whites, when washing dark clothes, it’s best to use a liquid detergent instead of a powder, as undissolved particles can cling to the item and leave it looking dull. Either use a detergent formulated for dark colors or use the smallest amount of your regular detergent as possible. As with white clothes, excessive amounts of detergent can leave a residue that makes fabrics appear faded, as well as encouraging dye bleeding. Once your dark items are washed place them out of direct sunlight to dry, still inside out, as UV rays will fade the color.
3 - For Black Colors
You might be particularly concerned about how to wash black clothes, (after all, most of us love our trusty black staples as if they’re old friends) but panic not — the advice is the same as for dark clothes. The two most important things to remember are: wash them on a cool cycle and line dry them inside out to prevent the dreaded fade.
HOW TO WASH COLORS
As with the above, separating pale or pastel colors from brighter shades reduces the likelihood of dye transfer. Following the drying instructions for dark clothing as above is also the best approach for colored pieces. Another tip for minimizing damage and disaster: avoid detergents that include bleach. Other specific pointers for washing colors:
1 - Duration is Key
When determining how to wash colored clothes and preserve their color, select the coldest and shortest cycle possible. Although brightly colored pieces often shed a little dye over time, reducing the temperatures they’re exposed to slows down this process.
2 - It’s All About Preventative Measures
Washing brand-new pieces on their own for the first few washes, when they are most likely to be shedding dye, lowers the risk of the colors bleeding. Although some clothes do stop releasing dye after several washes, using a higher water temperature at a later date can still cause the release of dye so don’t be tempted.
Unfortunately, attempting to set the color of an item at home is unlikely to work reliably, and neither will rely on detergents or color catcher sheets. Use the same drying instructions as for dark clothing, above.
HOW TO KEEP CLOTHES FROM SHRINKING
We’ve all been there — you’ve followed the washing instructions on the label to the letter, and your cherished piece still comes out of the wash looking more than a little smaller than when it went in. The golden rule for successfully managing to avoid this is to wash items on a cool setting. As most modern washing machines can remove dirt easily on a cold water setting, it’s a simple way to be certain your favorite items will stay life-size. It’s also a good idea to keep your machine on a lower spin cycle to reduce the chance of clothes becoming misshapen. Using a delicate cycle and putting items in a mesh laundry bag will also help prevent shrinking.
When it comes to drying clothes, it’s best to air dry them. If that’s not possible, use the lowest heat setting on your dryer, or (if you have one) choose the air-dry setting. And a secret the experts swear by: take clothes out whilst they are still a bit damp, which will prevent them from over-drying and keep shrinking to a minimum.