Wash in cold water
Hot water wears out fabrics more quickly. Save the hot water for really soiled loads—kids’ baseball uniforms, gardening clothes, dirty sheets—and wash everything else in cold. Even if a garment says wash in hot water, washing in cold won’t hurt it (washing a cold water garment in hot, however, can be damaging). Your clothes will be just as clean, and the threads will stay strong.
Invest in a front-loading washer
Most Americans use top-loading washers, which have an agitator inside that pulls your clothes around. Front-loading washers use gravity to tumble clothes in and out of the water, much like the motion of a dryer. This is much gentler on your clothes and helps prevent snags and tangling.
Wash clothes inside-out
Protect the important part of a garment—the outside—by simply turning it inside out before you toss it in. It may not seem like much, but embellishments on the outside of a garment, even screen printing, can be worn away or snagged by the inside of the washer. Items with beading, embroidery, appliqués and other details should always be washed inside-out.
Don’t use chlorine bleach
Vinegar is a natural brightener that won’t wear out the fibres of your clothing the way chlorine bleach will. Plus, it’s better for the environment—we love that.
Dryer heat damages fabric over time. Electric dryers cause shrinkage, colour fading, and weaken the material fibres. Instead, line dry clothing outside, or indoors on a drying rack. You can also hang garments on plastic hangers in your shower or on a tension rod in an alcove. If you simply can’t air dry, use the lowest heat setting on your dryer.
Follow care label directions
Most people know they should read garment care labels, but something many people forget is to read the directions on their laundry detergent too. Don’t use too much—too many suds means the rinse cycle might not get all of the soap residue out of your clothing. And use the right kind—gentle detergents for delicates, and regular detergent for sturdier items.
Treat stains the right way, and right away
A spill or stain doesn’t have to ruin a garment. When a spill or stain happens, blot—do not rub—with a clean tissue/towel right away. Always read care label instructions before attempting to remove the stain. Read instructions on stain-remover packaging—make sure it is safe to use on the fabric. Scrape off dried or crusty matter with a blunt knife before treating the stain.
The faster you treat a stain, the better the chances of successful removal.