Fabric faux pas: your clothes-cleaning guide

Hanging up clothes

Jenna Meade

Posted January 12, 2022


Know these pro tips to lengthen the lifespan of your laundry.

You only need to make one laundering mishap to turn your beloved white dress pink or shrink your favourite shirt.

Taking care of your clothes doesn’t have to be intimidating. By understanding the fabrics you’re working with, you’ll be hand washing your silks and spot-cleaning stains from your denim in no time. 

From de-wrinkling your linen to helping your leathers last, here is your fabrics guide for laundry day.

Folding Laundry

Caring for your clothes is essential to maintaining their quality and life-span. 


 

You clothes-cleaning guide

 

Linen

When cared for correctly, linen loves you back - becoming softer and more lustrous with every wash. If it’s not dry clean only, linen can be machine or hand washed. 

Wash in lukewarm or cold water with a gentle detergent. Because linen is highly absorbent, it’s best to wash linen separately from other fabrics. Turn inside-out and iron while still damp for best results. For a quick de-wrinkling without washing, lay a damp, light-coloured cloth over your garment and iron on the steam setting. 

Denim

The less you wash your denim, the better. It’s always best to spot-clean stains in between washes with a toothbrush or damp cloth with mild detergent. According to the experts, Levi’s’ advice is to put your jeans in the freezer to kill off any bacteria and odours. When it’s time to wash (about once every 10 wears), hand wash in cold water and a half cup of vinegar for 30 minutes. Soaking is gentler on denim and will help to prevent fading.

Avoid the dryer - line dry inside-out in the shade. This will help to keep your denim soft and banish unsightly and uncomfortably stiff jeans. 

Wool

If giving your good wools an airing in fresh air isn't doing the trick, use a gentle wool detergent and hand wash or machine-wash inside out or in a laundry bag. Make sure to use lukewarm water as cool water can cause shrinkage! 

Gently squeeze out excess water, reshape and dry flat out of direct sunlight. The best tactic for freshness is to rest wool garments for 24 hours before wearing again, giving them time to spring back into shape.

Silk

Because silk is prone to fading, it’s best to send your brights, darks and patterned garments to the professionals. However, you can care for some of these luxurious layers at home.

Hand wash with cold water one item at a time using a gentle detergent. Silk releases dirt quickly, so it won’t need long. Put it in the water, stir and let it sit for about three minutes.

Rinse - never wring - and, if needed, blot by laying down onto a clean white cotton towel. Hang or lay flat to dry out of the direct sun. 

Finish it off by ironing on low heat once it’s completely dry, using a cloth between the garment and the iron.

Wardrobe

When hanging and storing clothes, always check the care label for the garments recommendation. 


 

Cotton

Cotton is the champion of effortless home laundering. To avoid shrinkage, avoid heat - from both the washing machine and the dryer. Instead, wash in cold or warm water and always air dry in the shade.

Give garments a little stretch or a shake before hanging out to encourage them to dry in shape - and to cut down on your ironing time. The exception here is white items. The sun’s ultraviolet rays are a savvy sidekick in your washing process, helping brighten your whites. 

Leather

Leather and suede are vulnerable to dirt and dehydration. Without regular attention, your garment might crack, tear and stiffen. Begin by treating with a leather protector to repel water and prevent stains.

Keep your leather looking cool by using a leather conditioner at least once a year to moisturise and prevent from drying out, as well as a UV-protectant to shield it against the sun’s rays. Clean up any spills immediately with a soft cloth and use a soft brush to remove dirt or dust.

Rayon

Rayon requires a gentle touch. Use cold water and a mild detergent, for either a machine or a 15-minute hand wash. Remove items immediately after washing and resist the urge to wring dry. Instead, use a clean towel to roll up your garment and squeeze out excess water.

Lay flat in the shade to dry. Rayon is at risk of becoming shiny during ironing, so be sure to iron while it’s still damp and use a pressing cloth (or light layer of cotton) between the iron and the garment.


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