Those jeans that fit perfectly, the ideal slouch on your white tee…. these things can all be ruined if you don’t launder your wardrobe correctly.
Caring for clothing is a big part in having a long lasting, sustainable wardrobe. One wrong dial turn can mean your hard-earned money can be shrunk to the
size of a top only suitable for ants!
Don’t let that happen with these handy tips…
1. Take note of the care label
A pretty obvious one, but you would be surprised at the amount of people who actually don’t look at that little label. The label indicates the best temperature for washing, if thegarment can be bleached, tumble dried or ironed or if the garment is dry clean only.
Plus, any additional information such as special care instructions. Clothing only really needs to be washed in cold water, as hot water can damage the fabric and cause dyes to bleed.
These little symbols are important to follow as they determine the best way to care for your beloved garment.
It’s also important to look at this label BEFORE you buy, there is no point in buying a hand wash only item if you have don’t have time to do so.
2. Natural Fibres vs Synthetic Fibres
Take note of the fibre of your garment, many fibres such as cotton, silk, linen and wool can be hung to air out instead of washing. These fibres don’t require washing as much as synthetic fibres as they don’t hold on to sweat and bacteria as synthetics do.
Silk can take a little bit more care so read the label and use cool to cold water when hand washing.
Do the same for wool as hot water and too much agitation can cause the garment to felt and shrink. If most of your garments have synthetic fibres in them, it’s a good idea to invest in a Guppy Friend washing bag to prevent small micro fibres entering the oceans through the waterways.
3. Do you actually need to wash that garment?
Some items don’t need to be washed with every wear. Jeans can be worn for 5 to 10 wears before they need to be washed. And instead of washing them, you can pop them into the freezer to kill the bacteria – weird, but works! (Lee and Wrangler recommend this)
It all comes down to how close the garment is worn to the skin. Tees and tanks may need to be washed every wear (depending on the weather, how long you wear them for and how you perspire), but jumpers may only need to be washed after 5 to 6 wears. If in doubt, do a sniff test!
Here's a handy “when to wash” guide:
Tees: Every wear
Underwear and socks: Every wear
Blouses and Shirts: 1 – 2 wears
Pyjamas: 2 – 4 wears
Bras: 3 – 4 wears
Jeans: 5 – 10 wears
Sweater/Jumpers: 5 – 6 wears
Outerwear: can be worn many times, just use a brush to remove any surface dirt and try to dry clean at least once a year (depending on the type of coat)
4. Remember to separate whites from darks
I find this annoying to do as I have such small loads of washing and hate to run a half full machine, but it really does help your whites stay brighter longer!
Also make sure you put anything with long straps, such as bras, in a bag. It helps them tostay in shape and prevents tangling with other clothing.
Running your machine on the correct cycle also helps to eliminate tangled and misshapen garments. I find a cold eco wash with a lower speed spin cycle keeps my garments happy.
5. Air dry your clothes
Using the dryer is actually one of the worst thing you can do for your clothing and the environment. Not only does it cost you loads of money in energy and creates unnecessary carbon emissions, using a dryer can cause your garments to shrink. It’s better to hang your clothes out to dry, the sun is a natural bacteria killer and the wind freshens your garments. Even if you have a small space, hang out what you can to save money.
When drying your garments naturally, be sure to lay flat delicate garments or heavy woolen garments. Hanging them when wet will cause stretching.
6. Keep it eco clean
Use an eco-friendly detergent and avoid dryer sheets or fabric softeners. Your garments don’t need them and often they contain cancerous chemicals that leach into the environment and your skin.
Try using brands such as Earth Choice, Eco Store and Dirt – all are eco-friendly and Earth Choice and Eco Store can be found at Woolworths and Coles.
If you feel like you need a fabric softener, try using vinegar and baking soda with some essential oils or a touch of hair conditioner.
Written by Jenna Ruthflood
Jenna is a Stylist by trade who creates runway-worthy looks using ethically produced or op shopped clothing. Having been featured for her fast fashion alternatives in The Age newspaper, she believes that by styling with sustainable fashion we can bring to light the issues of fast fashion and show people better alternatives.