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Caring for Your Clothes

How ToChelsea Bell

Raise your hand if you like to do laundry? No hands? That’s what I thought. Well, I have good news for you! I’m here to reduce the amount of laundry that you are doing. I believe that most of you are washing your clothes too much. How you do laundry is an important part of properly caring for your clothes and making sure they last. 

If I’m being really honest, the first thing I do when I get home for the day is take off my bra and hang it on the doorknob in my closet. I have no shame here,  then I get ready to put on some form of pajamas. It doesn’t matter what time it is as long as I know that I’m not going to leave my house again then I’m going to put on pajamas. As I’m changing into my pajamas I decide if the clothes that I’m wearing are actually dirty. I check to see if I have any spots or stains then I check to see if they smell. If there are no spots and they don’t stink, then they don’t go to the clothes hamper. They will get worn again before they are laundered. This will help keep the colors and fabrics looking their best for longer.

The truth about laundering your clothes is that every single time you launder them they break down just a little. Quality fabrics and construction techniques will last longer, but they will still never look exactly the same as they did before you laundered them. So now that I’ve convinced you to do less laundry, let’s talk about how to launder them.

The single most important thing you need to know to properly care for your clothes is the fiber content of the fabric. The fiber content of the fabric will tell you whether you need to dry clean your clothes or if they can be washed in the washing machine.  Generally wool, silk, and rayon require dry cleaning while cotton, linen, and polyester can be washed in the washing machine. I wash everything on the coldest water setting (with the exception of socks and towels which need hot water) using a scent-free, dye-free detergent. I use either Method or Seventh Generation. I forgo fabric softeners in the wash and only use half of a scent-free, dye-free dryer sheet for things that go through the dryer.

Last, but not least, treating stains. Stain remover is a biggie. For tough stains I make a stain remover that works better than any store bought stain treater I’ve tried. I start by making a paste out of baking soda and blue Dawn dish liquid, then I add a splash of hydrogen peroxide. Stir it up then use a toothbrush to gently scrub the liquid into stains and let it sit at least 10 minutes before washing. You can add a second layer of liquid and scrubbing for really tough stains. My daughter recently colored the whole front side of my white blue jeans with a royal blue crayon and this method removed it all.

Laundry Tips.jpg

Basic laundry tips for garment longevity:

• don’t launder your clothes every time you wear them

•homemade laundry detergent, specifically those containing Borax are harder on clothes than store bought detergent

•Borax is a whitening agent and should not be used on colored clothing, it is also rough on fibers

•I prefer dye free, scent free detergents (I use Method or Seventh Generation)

•Don’t wash new clothes before you wear them. Exceptions: dark blue jeans (due to dye rub off) and underwear.

•Don’t machine wash rayon, even if directed to do so by manufacturer. The fibers are never the same and the garment may have a droopy appearance.

•I don’t use fabric softener in the washing machine. I use half of a scent-free, dye-free dryer sheet on items that go to the dryer.

I hang all of my nice clothes to dry. On occasion they accidentally get thrown in the dryer, but I try to minimize the number of times things run through the dryer.

•Wash clothes on coldest possible setting. Exception: towels and socks which definitely need HOT water washing.

•Bleach is hard on fabric fibers, so I only use it on badly stained whites as a last resort.