How to Care for Your Clothes
Our focus here at Jessie Sue is quality, clothes that are made to last, your wardrobe is an investment and if you want to protect that investment read on for some of the best tips for taking care of your clothes. We share tips on laundering, storing and maintenance so you will find your clothes just as you last wear.
Clothing Care Tips
Before we head to the laundry does it need to be washed? we are all guilty of over washing, all that soaking, detergent and spinning will eventually take its toll. Try instead to resist the urge to wash and air your clothes outside the wardrobe for a while before putting them back in place to be worn again.
Inside out is the way to go for all dark clothing to preserve the colour, the darker the clothing the more prone it is to bleed when washed and fade overtime. Use a colour saving detergent is a good way to protect your colour longer. Dryers are best avoided where possible instead opting for a line outside or simple drying rack. If you must use a dryer, be careful of zips becoming hot and damaging other delicates within the load.
Get to know your washer, take time to read the manual and fully understand each setting to know what’s best for your clothes. Our washers have come a long way and there are many options for achieving the best results.
If your looking for a sustainable option to wash your clothes you can’t go past Earth Choice Ultra Concentrate, which has an ethical B rating, Choice has ranked it amongst the best for a sustainable solution. It has a plant-based formula, with no petrochemical cleansers reducing chemical waste and pollution and even the bottle is made from 50% recycled plastic. For woolens and delicates, they have a special Earth Choice Wool & Delicates Wash for a little extra care.
Keeping your Whites White
We all love that new white feeling, white is the hardest of all our clothes to keep looking good. The essential key is sorting, keep your whites separate even if this means doing a smaller load. Soon as you start mixing colours, especially cotton items you will find your water colour tinged and settled on your pristine whites. Any whites that are heavily soiled should be soaked using an enzyme detergent or oxygen bleach to breakdown the dirt, so this is not being transferred to your white wash load. Whites are best washed at the fabrics hottest safe temperature with a detergent that has enzymes and/or a bleach alternative.
Oxygen bleach is a more gentle option than chlorine bleach and safe to us on most whites and coloured fabrics, environmentally friendly it will remove any stains and keep your whites looking bright. If you have a high Iron content in your water you will need to take extra care and add a laundry product to remove the iron. It is essential that you use an oxygen bleach and not chlorine bleach as mixed with this water it will cause your whites to yellow.
The way you iron can impact on how long your clothes last. One of the easiest mistakes to make is not reading the label, there are lots of different fabrics today all with their own special care instructions, so before you pick up the iron check the recommendations. Using a heat that is too high is one sure way to damage clothing. Avoid dry Ironing, even if it’s just a simple spray with water it makes the job so much easier by relaxing the fabric so when ironed creases are easily removed, or make use of the fancy steam iron. Ironing boards, in particular the padding does need updated once in a while due to wear and tear, leave it too long and you will start to see some unsightly imprints pressed into your clothes. Also make sure you keep the surface clean and give it a wash frequently so you’re not transmitting dust onto your clothes when ironing. If you have a tub of Ironing to get through start with your delicates first and work your way up to the high temperature settings, Irons can take some time to adjust to the correct setting, this will save you time and avoid any unforeseen damages.
Taking Care of your Clothing
Hand wash is best for your delicate jumpers using a very gentle detergent, other jumpers will handle a cool wash on a delicate cycle. The cool water will help the jumper retain its shape and if you turn it inside out it will reduce piling. Wringing out is a definite no no, use a clean towel to absorb any excess water and lay it out flat to dry. Cardigans should be buttoned up before going in the washer to keep the shape. Loose threads should be tackled quickly the best approach is from the inside pulling the thread back through on the wrong side. Heavy jumpers are best folded and lightly stacked, as hanging will only cause them to stretch.
Let’s face it at some point we are all guilty of over washing and pants are high on the hit list. We aren’t advocating any unhygienic practices, but just take time to look them over, with perhaps a little sniff test before you go for the toss to the laundry basket. The less you wash the longer they will last. You will always have a little shrinkage over time, so best keep this in mind when choosing your fit.
Best technique for Ironing Pants:
- Pockets – iron from the inside
- Waist & top – place pants over ironing board working around the waist, going lightly over pockets
- Legs – Line up all seams with the pant flat on the ironing board, fold back the top leg and iron the inside leg, and turnover and repeat
- Steam press centre creases
- Use a press cloth for wool fabrics
Shirts take a big hit from being close to our skin, on the cuffs and collars in particular, try to be mindful in purchasing and leave yourself a little room to save on wear and tear. You will also experience some marginal shrinkage on the first wash so this is another reason to opt for a comfy fit and look for colour fast options. Wash on a cool wash setting to preserve the fabric, separating dark colours paying special attention to the inside of collars where close contact with our skin causes staining. If you hang your shirts as soon as they leave the washer, this will help ease the creases. Use dryers as a last resort, they are known to cause shrinkage this is due to the fibers of the fabric being broken down in the process. The best way to dry your shirts is on a hanger and once ironed, don’t cram everything in tight in your wardrobe, leave a little breathing space. If your wardrobe is too big take a read of our blog “How to tidy you wardrobe” for some spring cleaning tips.
Shirts are best ironed with steam, or iron a little damped to preserve the fabric and in the following order:
- Collar- iron the underside
- Back Shoulder yoke, placing it over the end of the ironing board.
- Cuffs – iron the insides
- Sleeves – working from the cuff to the shoulder.
- Shirt fronts
- Shirt back from top to bottom
- Place it on a hanger to cool
Skirts & Dresses
Skirts and Dresses unlike shirts, are mostly not worn so close to our body and are frequently over washed, it’s recommended that you will get a few wears before washing, unless of course you have a spill. In between washes hang your skirts and dresses you’ve just worn So the fibers get the change to relax and air, at least for 24 hours. When you do wash check the label to make sure your skirt is machine-washable and wash on a cold cycle to avoid shrinkage. If you hang it out to dry straight away most skirts will keep their shape, even those with pleats. Have you come across dresses that seem to have that annoying straps inside, they are actually there to help you hang the dress evenly and should be placed around the neck of the hanger to keep your dresses looking good. Using hangers with adjustable clips avoids stretching the fabric and work great for storing your skirts, best to turn them inside out to ease the marking on the fabric.
Dresses and Skirts and are best Ironed from the bottom up towards the waist. Iron from the inside if your skirts has ruffles, pleats should also be ironed from the inside with a burst of steam on a low setting. One tip is to use paperclips to hold the pleats in place as you work through them.
Swimwear & Intimates
These are some of our precious pieces and should be treated with the best of care and there is no better care than a hand wash, taking care to remove all excess water and lay on a drying rack to dry. (If you do use the washer opt for a wash bag) Try to avoid placing Intimates and Swimwear in the dryer instead air dry to preserve elasticity.
Swimwear should always be cleansed for saltwater and chlorine by soaking after every swim. Bras should be rotated to allow the elastic time to relax, wearing the same bra continually will keep the elastic stretched and wear quickly. Bras should be replaced at least once a year. Ideally, hand wash, rinse in cold water remove excess water with a towel. Hang in to dry by both straps. If you do use the washing machine be sure to use wash bag for protection and don’t use the dryer as it will damage the elastic.
The everyday Tee, a versatile little number that is a big part of any wardrobe. They don’t need a lot of TLC, but there are a few basics to keeping them looking good and in shape. Turn your T-shirts inside out before placing them in the washer, wash in cold water on a gentle cycle with similar coloured fabrics. Avoid direct sunlight for drying particularly for strong colours that are prone to fading. T-shirts are best left without an Iron, but if you do Iron inside out or on the back to avoid any design printing. Don’t put your T-shirts on hangers unless you want to add some length and have hanger marks, best option is to fold them and not stack too many on top of each other. Just one simple fold across the middle will prevent creases.
- Be quick, the best chance for stain removal is to act fast, even if you’re out and about run to the wash rooms.
- Don’t go for the paper towels and don’t rub the stain which can cause more damage.
- Use cold water and wet a cloth, if you have the option available place another cloth beneath the stain.
- Add a drop of dish washing liquid to the cloth, the action you need is to press on the stain to lift it out of the fabric, repeat and repeat
- If you’re out and about, don’t stress about re-washing until the morning, or if your home you can rewash straight away.
Acetate is a cellulosic-based manufactured fiber with a silk appearance, which can be crisp or soft and when blended with other fibers create clothes that drape easily. Make sure you check the label of any acetate or acetate blends in particular to colour fastness. Acetate is a weak fiber that can be damaged easily and is best hand washed in cold water, or a very gentle machine wash cycle. Your clothes will dry quickly and should not be placed in the dryer, use a pressing cloth and a cool iron to avoid shine on the fabric.
A synthetic fiber that is quick-drying and has the excellent quality of drawing moisture away from the body, that’s why you will find this fabric in jumpers and socks. Easy to wash because the fibers hold their shape, a machine wash in warm water is fine. Avoid high dryer heat to prevent shrinkage, low temperatures are fine for Acrylic clothes. Select a low iron temperature if the iron is needed.
Cool and comfortable cotton is a popular natural fabric choice which can be machined washed in cold or warm water, but ideally should be rinsed in cold to avoid shrinkage. If you can remove cotton clothing immediately from the washing machine and air dry on a clothes line this will help avoid creases and reduce the need to Iron. If you do need to use a dryer use a low heat setting as high heat can cause cotton fibers to shrink. Cotton will need a hot steam iron to remove creases or alternatively you can iron while slightly damp.
Denim is tough and there is nothing delicate about it, but you will need to use cold water to prevent shrinkage. Denim is one of those fabrics that tends to be over washed, where in most instances a little spot cleaning will do the trick. When you do need to wash turn jeans inside out and this will make your colour last and prevent fading, opt for a liquid detergent as it’s better than powder than can rub against the fabric. Shake your denim out after removing from the wash flattening out creases and lay flat in the shade to dry, as direct sunlight can distort the colour. Try to avoid dryers all together as they will only damage fibers and shrink your jeans, if you have no choice opt for low heat settings.
Elastane is a man-made fiber from polyurethane, often blended with cotton, this fabric will stretch and bounce back into shape and the beauty is it won’t shrink. Fibers are lightweight and soft and used in sportswear as they are resistant to damage from perspiration and deodorants. Elastane is best cared for with a cold wash on a gentle cycle and air dried. As Elastane doesn’t wrinkle easily, you can usually skip the iron, but if you do iron on the lowest heat with continual movement to avoid melting the fibers.
Leather jackets represent a significant investment and you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions, but as a general rule you can extend the life of your leather by following these tips:
- Before your first wear get yourself a good leather protectant spray to avoid water damage.
- Clean with a soft bristled brush, dusting it clean.
- Remove any marks and scuffs by hand with a damp cloth, and then wipe over with a dry cloth.
- Invest in a leather conditioner to prevent the leather from drying out.
- Leather is prone to wrinkles, like all of us, give it a beauty treatment once in a while by taking it to the dry cleaners.
A durable natural fabric that breathes and will keep you cool. Linen should be washed in cold water as it is much like cotton and has a tendency to shrink. A gentle cycle is the go and wash with like inded lightweight fabrics, or if you do choose to hand wash avoid wringing out as this will twist the fibers. Linen will dry quickly and is best left to air dry either laid flat on a towel or drying rack, as a tumble in the dryer will add to wrinkles and cause shrinkage. You will need a hot steam iron to remove wrinkles or for the best results iron whilst still damp. Hang your linen in your wardrobe as it is prone to creasing.
Nylon is resistant to colour fading and can be washed in cold or warm water with nylon lingerie being placed in a mesh bag to avoid tears and stretching. It’s also resistant to creasing, this lightweight fabric is extraordinarily strong and durable, using a fabric softener will help reduce any static electricity. Nylon doesn’t like heat so if you should tumble dry on a low heat and if your need to iron use a low setting.
This manufactured fiber, is strong, durable and wears well with little creasing. Some polyester will require “Dry Clean Only” so check the label, otherwise Polyester is best cleaned with warm water, as cold water may struggle to get stains out. Turn your clothes inside out before washing and use a fabric softener as this will help remove the static cling that Polyester is prone to. This fabric is resistant to shrinking and should dry quickly without any stretching, if you opt for a dryer use the lowest heat possible, likewise you will need to watch the iron temperature because it will melt being a synthetic fiber.
Rayon is easy comfortable wearing, due to its ability to fall well and Viscose is a member of the Rayon family with a soft elegant feel. Watch as some of these clothes require dry cleaning only, so check the label. Otherwise hand washing is recommended with cold to lukewarm water with a mild detergent. Don’t use the dryer as it may shrink, air dry over a free standing clothes line without pegging and Iron without steam on a low setting.
An elegant natural fabric used for luxury sleepwear and stylish evening wear and deserving of some special care. Silk should be dry cleaned or a gentle hand wash with a gentle detergent. Silk is prone to fading, ideally do a colorfastness test before washing and consider dry cleaning any clothes that bleeds as this will protect your colour longer. If you do hand wash use a very gentle soap and handle with care, don’t wash too much as Silk will actually release dirt quickly Silk fibers will be easily damaged by using the dryer or wringing out excess water, you can remove excess water by placing on a white cotton towel, folding it over with a gentle blot. Simply leave it to air dry, dripping over a bathtub, avoid placing it in sunlight as this will make it fade quicker.
Wool must be laundered carefully as it is prone to shrinkage. It shouldn’t need washed too often, in most cases once a season and this is the best way to preserve that special jumper. Best practice is to turn the item inside out for laundering and wash with like colours. Check the label if it says dry clean only, make sure you invest in a professional dry clean. Where the label allows a handwash, use lukewarm water and a gentle wool specific detergent. Rinse well after washing laying knitwear flat to dry. Where the label allows a machine wash, check your washer for a wool setting or use a gentle luke warm cycle. Don’t use any form of heat to dry, lay it flat and out of the sun and allow to air dry. Remove wrinkles with a steam iron on wool setting or use a damp cloth, don’t Iron on a dry garment. Between wears give that jumper a rest for a day and allow the natural resilience and spring in the wool fibers time to bounce back into shape.
Maintenance – keep on top of your clothing care
You have taken the time to launder right to make your clothes last, but we need to make sure they stay that way. Here are some final tips to help you maintain their quality.
- Avoid those pesky pests, even in the cleanest closet’s moths will prevail, invest in some moth traps for your wardrobe.
- Lavender will also help keep the bugs at bay and keep your clothes smelling nice.
- Clothes are best hung on wooden or padded hangers that help keep the shape of your clothes, as opposed to wire hangers that can cause stretching and distort the shape.
- Act on those repairs, learn the basic sewing skills, such as fixing a fallen hem or sewing a button on, too many clothes in need of repair sit idle in the wardrobe only to be disposed of years later.
- Rotate, whilst we all have our favourites, good practice is to share the load with your clothes, rotating to minimize wear and tear. Simply, put all newly laundered items to the back and pick from the front. If there’s something you don’t like it shouldn’t be in there, follow our tips for recycling unwanted items in our blog 7 Steps to a Tidy Wardrobe
- At seasons changeover, wash (or dry clean as required) you’re ready to store items and this will prevent little bugs going into storage with your clothes.
- Finally, your wardrobe should be cool and dry to avoid moisture damage and don’t cram everything together, leave a little room for your clothes to breathe.
Caring for your clothes whilst Travelling
Just because you’re travelling doesn’t mean you should forget about caring for your clothes. It’s a good idea to button up shirts for packing and support the collar with a cardboard band, alternating their position in the suitcase. Pack yourself a little travel iron to take care of the suitcase wrinkles and a lint roller for any unwanted fluff. When you arrive at the other end, be quick to get your clothes out of the suitcase and on hangers, a simple light spray with water and a slight pull can often remove a few wrinkles. Staying in a hotel, take advantage of the free sewing kit often found amongst the bathroom toiletries, you never know when you might need some emergency repairs. Try to find the time to hand wash Swimwear & Intimates and this will help you travel lighter.
Jessie Sue is an Australian online boutique, working with Australian Designers that share a passion for ethical and sustainable quality clothing. Check out our blog page for more fashion tips and advice.