CARING FOR YOUR CLOTHES: THE HOW’S AND WHY’S

Different Clothes

However many clothes you have, it’s likely they’ll be different colours and types of fabrics and will therefore require different types of care. And since this is something you’ll likely be doing several times a month for the rest of your life, you might as well learn to do it properly. For those of you who were never told that wool can shrink, colours can run, and why cold cycles are important, read on.

Fabrics Explained

The basic rule is that clothes are made of different types of material, and that’s why different types of clothes will have different rules for how to wash, store, and wear. This isn’t actually as complicated as some people think, since there aren’t that many different types of the most common fabric materials. Checking the label on the clothes will confirm what type of material it is, and will usually specify at what temperature to wash it at as well. But here are a few more general rules to get you started:

Natural Fabrics

Cotton:

One of the most common materials your clothes will be made from. Stuff like T-shirts and underwear are usually made from it.

Should be washed in the washing machine between 20-30ºC, and 40ºC if a certain garment has some tough stains on it or smells to get out. Washing at higher temperatures than that, especially regularly, will make the colours fade and the material begins to look pulled and worn.

Silk:

Most washing machines have a silks and delicates setting or, if you are worried about the material being too delicate even for that, wash it by hand. The washing machine temperature should be 20ºC, by hand the water should be around the same and will feel lukewarm. There is also a different kind of washing liquid for silks and delicates and wool, that can be good investment if you have many such items. Another thing to take note of is that this material does not like fabric conditioner, so it should not be added to the wash.

Viscose:

A fibre that is very similar to silk as it is also often made to be flowy and is therefore particularly popular in women’s shirts. Can be washed in the washing machine on the silk and delicates setting also at no more than 20ºC, or washed by hand.

Wool:

Can be washed in the washing machine on the wool setting, or on a general/gentle cycle at 30ºC. You can wash it on a gentle cycle at 40ºC as well, if you feel you need to get the smell out. But it isn’t recommended to do this too regularly since, if washed at higher temperatures even just once, your wool can shrink and deform. There is also usually a different washing liquid for silks and delicates and wool that would be better to use – especially if you have a lot of woollen items. This material also does not like fabric conditioner, so this should not be added to wool washes.

Leather (real):

Cannot be washed in the washing machine. Things like leather jackets, if they get particularly dirty, should be cleaned by hand with a mild solution – one part vinegar and one part water, or one part water and one part washing up liquid are both options. Use a non-abrasive, such as perhaps microfibre, cloth to clean it. Make sure to pat the jacket dry and hang it somewhere where it can finish drying fully.

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