Have you taken a moment recently to calculate just how much you have invested in your wardrobe? Not just in terms of money, but also all the effort involved in sourcing your clothing. My guess is, like me, you have made a hefty investment in both time and money. How to care for your clothes is something worth looking into. Especially those dearly loved favourites that we inevitably reach for in the morning and want to last forever.
Here are a few easy tips on how to care for your clothes that will help them stay in good shape for longer.
Caring for natural fibres
More and more people are choosing to wear clothing made of natural fibres, such as cotton, linen, silk, wool, cashmere and hemp. Natural fibre clothing are not only more environmentally friendly, they also feel good against the skin, fit well and last longer. However, natural fibres do require a little more TLC compared to synthetic materials.
Washing cotton and linen
Use a delicate cycle on your washing machine for both cotton and linen. The use of cold to warm water is recommended, but never hot water, as it will cause both cotton and linen items to shrink. Cooler water temperatures will also help prevent bright or darker colours from fading.
Use a mild detergent and avoid using fabric softener on linen. Linen fibres tend to damage easily, so avoid wringing out excess water. Rather squeeze items gently in-between two clean towels. I like to air-dry my clothes as much as possible, resorting only to tumble drying during those long rainy Cape winter spells.
For silk clothing, I recommend hand washing in cold water, with a special liquid detergent such as Woolite. Lightly move your silk clothes around in the water, then gently ball the item in your hands to squeeze out excess water and then rinse well. You can also wash silk in your washing machine, set on the gentlest cycle. Dry flat, away from direct sunlight and never tumble dry!
Drying and ironing
When air drying any of my special cotton, linen or woolen items, I either lay the garment flat on a towel or use a drying rack. It’s best to do so away from direct sunlight, as the sun may cause bright colours to fade and the yellowing of white fabrics.
Most cotton items will need very little ironing, if the clothes are ironed whilst still slightly damp. For cotton, you can use a medium to hot iron. Stick to medium heat for linen though, or forego ironing altogether.
For woolen items I follow basically the same process and always lie my woolens on a flat surface to dry, or else it loses its shape. I don’t iron any woolens – instead I have a wonderful stand-up steam iron that takes away any major creases.
Ten handy tips
- Sort colours: dark with dark; and light with light. Never the two shall meet (at least not in the washing machine).
- Turn your clothes inside-out before they are washed, dried and ironed.
- Use just enough detergent. Too much is never good for your clothes.
- Wash on the lowest temperature you feel comfortable with. Low temperatures are better for your clothes and better for the environment.
- Keep your washing machine clean. Take a cloth and wipe it after every wash. Kill bacteria by running a hot wash cycle with a dash of laundry detergent (without clothing) once every few months. Always leave the door open after emptying your washing machine to prevent mould.
- Don’t leave you clothing to scorch in the heat – bring it in as soon as dry.
- Keep a clothing rail in your garage/scullery to use on ironing day. This makes the chore so much more pleasant.
- For extra protection, use a pressing cloth between the iron and your clothing. A pain, I know, but it does prevent your clothes from getting burnt.
- Invest in good hangers – I like mine to be all white and use wooden ones for jackets (please banish all wire hangers – they make horrible lumps!)
- To keep their shape, do not hang knits. In general, folding is kinder to clothes than hanging.
Did this article help you? Do you have more tips that we could try? Let us know in the comment section below.