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. Air dry 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.
General Clothing Care Tips
- When changing out of your clothes, be sure to let suits, coats and shoes air out for at least 30 minutes before you store them in your closet. Hang them up on a clothes rack or on a hanger outside your closet before putting them away. Do not throw them over a chair as this can create new wrinkles.
- It's also important to rotate your sweaters and jackets like you do your shoes, to give them a chance to breathe and regain their shape.
- Turn off the closet light and don't leave garments near the window. Sunlight can fade the colours on your clothes just like it does drapes. Dyes are sensitive to prolonged sunlight or even to a light left on in a closet.
- In summer, be careful with lotions and sunscreen as it can fade or stain your clothes.
- Spray perfume and hairspray on before you get dressed. The alcohol in the spray can fade, discolour or stain clothes.
- Always clean your clothes before storing them for the season. Untreated food and beverage stains can attract insects!
- Never hang wet or damp clothes in your closet. This can attract mildew.
- Do not store clothing in plastic garment bags. The plastic breaks down over time and can interact with the fabric, which can weaken it or change the colour. Plastic can also trap in humidity that can lead to mildew damage. Garments need to be able to breathe, so wrap them in plain breathable cotton sheets or a cloth garment bag to keep them safe.
- Brush off any salt before cleaning clothes or taking them to the dry cleaner. Salt can cause damage during cleaning. If you have come into contact with salt (e.g. Pant cuffs brushing up against winter street salt), wipe with cold water and air dry. Always point salt treated areas out to your dry cleaner. Shoes are especially prone to salt damage during winter. When you come home, wipe off any salt residue with a cold damp cloth.