Laundry Tips: Keep your clothes looking like new with natural methods
So I was talking to my friend the other day, and I said:
Yeah so I turned my jeans inside out before I washed them and found the missing piece of paper with the number on it!
She went silent on the other end… then she asked:
Why did you turn your jeans inside out before washing them?
Me: To save the fabric and preserve the colour, because you should always turn your pants inside out.
Me: Yeah. Everyone knows this.
Her: “EVERYONE” meaning you and like 5% of the population. I never knew this!
Me: There are other things you shouldn’t do either.
Her: Let me get a pen and paper.
After that conversation, I realized that not everyone reads Real Simple, or any other kind of OCD organizing magazine for fun, so maybe I should tell you what I do and don’t do with my laundry to take care of my clothes.
They last longer, they look almost like new and it confuses my friends that I could wear the same dress I bought 5 years ago and it looks like I’ve never worn it.
1. WASH YOUR CLOTHES IN COLD WATER
Unless you need warm or hot water to get grease out of kitchen towels, you don’t need a setting hotter than cold water.
Hot or warm water REALLY ruins the fabrics over time. It bleaches and dulls the colour, and it frays the fabrics because you’re swishing those clothes around in a bath of hot liquid — what did you think was going to happen!?
For another example, imagine tea steeping or a soup broth boiling on the stove — heat brings out everything you’re boiling and it does the same thing to your clothes.
2. DON’T USE DETERGENT, OR USE IT SPARINGLY
Don’t use a lot of detergent.
I personally use detergent 1% of the time, and that’s for greasy stuff, or things that I think really NEED to be washed and sanitized.
Not only is it bad for the environment, it strips your clothes and doesn’t really get them any cleaner unless you’re washing greasy kitchen towels or cloth diapers (for sanitization reasons).
3. WHEN IT SAYS WASH BY HAND, WASH BY HAND.. OR PUT IT ON A DELICATE CYCLE, NO SPIN
We have a washer that is from the 1980s, so it has no “delicate cycle” setting.
It’s just ONE setting that agitates all your clothes in either Cold, Warm or Hot water with Cold rinses.
Therefore, when I have silk, or anything to hand wash, I wash it by hand.
Anything that says “dry clean only”, I ignore the label and do it by hand in the sink with some gentle soap.
The only things I take to dry clean, are things I cannot wash by gently hand such as coats, or suits.
Otherwise, tops, dresses, casual pants — all done by hand and I gently squeeze and soak the fabric, rather than rub the fabric together to fray the delicate strands. I also put it on a towel and roll it like a swiss roll to get the water out, then lay it flat on a dry towel to dry.
DO NOT take two ends of your top and rub it together furiously with soap when you’re hand washing a delicate garment.
Wash it by putting it in some soapy water, swishing it around gently, and then squeezing out the excess water from the fabric.
Don’t pull the fabric.
Then lay it all flat to dry.
4. DON’T PUT YOUR CLOTHES IN THE DRYER, OR TRY NOT TO
It’s bad for my clothes but as of late I don’t care, I’m too tired. Only really delicate items don’t go in the dryer now.
If you are really caught on time because your wardrobe consists of only 3 shirts and 2 pants, then I suggest buying more clothes. 😛
However if you truly MUST use the dryer, here’s a short list of things you should never dry:
- Wool — It really does shrink
- Cashmere — Ditto
- Silk — Triple ditto
- Sweatshirts — You’ll lose that fluffy goodness
- Jeans — Hang them to dry, they’ll last longer
If you hang everything by hand on a clothesline or hangers, things will dry pretty quickly, especially thin fabrics.
5. DON’T WASH YOUR THINGS AS OFTEN
Some people wear a shirt for 3 hours around the house, and then think it’s dirty.
I think that’s a load of hogwash.
The only thing I change regularly is my underwear.
Otherwise, pants can be re-worn again at least 2 more times, and tops about one more time unless you’re running around in a field and getting sweaty.
The less you wash them, the less water gets on them (and detergent), and it doesn’t get put through a cycle of being agitated in a washer and then spun to dry.
That kind of friction causes your clothes to wear out faster, especially if you’re buying low quality items.
6. TREAT STAINS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
Tide-to-Go pens are a lifesaver. Treat fresh stains as soon as possible, and then throw them in the washer immediately when you get home.
The longer you leave a stain, the longer it stays stained.
Vinegar also gets smells out, and I like to soak certain items in Oxiclean (whites mostly) to get stains out.
For major stains like blood, I hand wash it to get the stain out, then wash it in the washer.
7. ALWAYS GIVE YOUR NEW CLOTHES A GOOD FIRST WASH
It removes about 80% of the chemicals, and if you handwash items, you might be horrified at the amount of DYE that seeps out from your garment even before you wash it.
Factories get freshly dyed items, and then they don’t wash them — they just start making the garments.
No one really sees a label that says: Wash before use, so they think it’s fine to wear it right off the rack BUT IT IS NOT.
It is full of chemicals and dyes, not to mention the grime of other less-than-clean folks who have been trying on the garment before you in the change rooms, or just laying around on a dirty floor or table.
Grossed out yet?
Good. Wash your stuff before you wear it.
8. USE SALT TO MAKE CLOTHES COLOURFAST
With new clothes that are heavily dyed (I try to avoid those, it’s bad for the environment..), you can toss in a good pinch of salt to make the dye colourfast.
9. USE 1 CUP OF DISTILLED WHITE VINEGAR TO GET YOUR CLOTHES CLEANER
Distilled vinegar makes your whites whiter, and your colours look better. Just one cup of distilled vinegar is what I throw in the wash (without detergent) once in a while.
In case you’re worried about a smell, there isn’t any after the washer gets done with it.
10. USE 1/4 CUP OF BAKING SODA TO REMOVE ODOURS
I have only used this once or twice in my life to get things really clean and fresh, but 1/4 of baking soda does wonders.
Same idea as vinegar above — it gets your whites whiter, and odours are removed.
That about does it for my laundry tips on keeping clothes new.
For more tips on stains and other things, I highly recommend How To Get Dressed; Freer goes into EVERY LITTLE STAIN in detail.