How to Care for Your Clothes

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Hi Imogen, I love your blog and have found soooo much helpful information on it! I have a rather practical but important question: How do you keep your clothes so tidy, pressed and new looking? Everything I launder comes out faded, wrinkled and sloppy looking. Unless I iron it, which, let’s face it, isn’t going to happen unless it’s a rather dressy or formal occasion. So, do you iron your every day clothes? Hand wash and line dry? Sent it all out to the cleaners? What’s your secret to long-lasting, nice looking clothes? Thanks!

 

How to care for your clothes
laundry by imogenl featuring wall art

 

I am by no means perfect in looking after clothing, but there are some rules I’ve made for myself that I adhere to.

1. Wash in cool or cold water, it strips less dye out of clothing.

2. Wash whites with whites, colours with colours and darks with darks (no darks with your lights unless you want lots of grey)

3. Use a gentle cycle for clothing that needs it, such as wool, silk and some other fabrics

4. When you take your clothes out of the machine, give them a shake to get out as many wrinkles as you can before hanging.

5. Hang on hangers, not in direct sunlight (sunlight fades your clothes).  I hang my clothes in the laundry on hangers to dry. This will also help you avoid peg marks on your clothes and creases fall out as they dry.

6. Wash less often than you think, particularly for jeans.  they can go much longer than you may be used to without washing, but they do need to be washed sometimes.  Turn them inside out before washing as it helps stop fading.

7.  Get yourself a good steam iron.  That way, you don’t have to spend lots of time ironing, but the reality is, that you need to iron some of your clothes, otherwise they will look tired and crushed.  The steam iron I use means that most of the time I just hang the garment and steam, rather than iron it (so much faster and easier).  Yes I do iron my every day clothes (or steam them), you won’t look polished covered in creases!

8. Avoid putting your clothes in the tumble dryer, they really do age clothes rapidly.

 

If you hate ironing, then buy clothes from man-made fibres that don’t need ironing.  Cotton, linen, silk and the like crush and need ironing.  You have to make a choice about how much you hate ironing and which fabrics you prefer to wear.  Or find yourself someone to do the ironing for you!

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12 Comments

  • How true it is that what you do with your clothes when you take them out of the washing machine makes all the difference. I am a fussy Virgo, won’t be seen with a crease, and iron everything! If you shake your clothes vigorously when you remove them from the machine, and smoothe out the creases, lots of stuff won’t need much ironing.

    A quick turn in the tumble dryer when they are almost dry takes out a lot of creases. Don’t buy linen, or cotton without a bit of polyester. Avoid items that are poorly made, seams that are not straight don’t dry straight and always need more attention. Use good detergent. Get a front loader, preferably European made, they are gentler.

  • Don’t dry clean things if you can help it. I hand wash with shampoo or Eucalan all my woolens and silks and hang them to dry or just use the “spin cycle” on my gentlest washer setting and then hang them to dry. Clothes last much longer without all the dry cleaning chemicals.

    You can “dry clean” them at home. Toss them in the dryer on a medium (“cotton”) 30 minute cycle with a very wet rag. Use a home dry-cleaning bag if you have one, if not put the item/s – two to three – in a pillow case and tie it shut with the wet rag inside. The clothes will get steamed and free of odors, etc.

    If you don’t want to wash something, put it a plastic bag in the freezer for a day or two. Kills odor causing bacteria.

  • I am a big fan of steaming. I have a travel sized Jiffy steamer which is wonderful as I don’t love ironing.
    Thanks for your other tips!

  • I use Radiant Black Wash for my coloured clothes (supermarket top shelf) & use these pegs http://www.maidofshade.com.au/holey_peg.htm to keep the hangers on the line while I’m at work -they are up to a bit of wind!
    I also have a fatter version for the hangers that don’t fit in the small hole-they are actually designed for people with arthritus, but cant find the link at the moment.

  • Great advice.
    One more thing — I use a special, very gentle alcohol-free detergent designed for bras and other garments with Lycra/spandex/nylon for nearly everything I launder
    Good brands are DREFT, FOREVER NEW,
    Doing that, combined with almost never putting my nice stuff in the dryer, significantly extends the life of even my cheaper clothing.

    The special detergent seems pricey, but you don’t have to use very much per load. I use about a teaspoon, if that.
    Also, I find I save money because clothes last longer.

  • I’ve had terrible luck, though, with those dryer bag/dry cleaning at home products.
    My dryer is probably too hot, even on low.

  • I use the slow spin setting on my washing machine for all my clothes. Yes, they come out still quite damp but I live in a dry climate and thus the clothes will dry by day’s end, and most creases will have dropped out. I wash all clothing in cold water and on gentle or delicate settings. I opt to hand wash the very delicate items and also my bras. Again, in the dry desert climate, I know they will drip dry. In the rainy weather, all the clothes will get hung up under the verandah. If they’re not dry by sunset, I bring them in and hang them up inside, somewhere with lots of air circulating about them. I avoid irons.

  • I buy a bottle of de-wrinkle spray. Right now I am using Downy Anti-Wrinkle. It’s cheap and lasts forever. If I have some bad wrinkles I give the item in question a few sprits, run my hand over the wrinkles to smooth them out, hang it on a hanger and it’s ready to wear.

    I haven’t had any issues with it damaging any clothes that are made with a cotton blend. I wouldn’t recommend it for delicate fabrics like silk, if you insist I’d try a small patch somewhere it can’t be seen before you spray the entire garment.

  • While I was doing laundry a few minutes ago, I remembered the biggest difference between the way my husband and I do laundry: I snap out every piece of laundry before I put it in the dryer. For a long time we couldn’t understand why clothes were more wrinkled when he did the laundry, and that was the trick. If you pull all of the laundry out of the washing machine and dump it straight into the dryer, you’re basically heat-setting the wrinkles that the clothes had when they were in that big ball of wet clothing. It takes a couple of extra minutes, but I grab an armful of laundry, set it on the dryer door, and snap out each piece of clothing. Your clothes will end up much less wrinkled and will dry more evenly, too.

    If you can’t take clothes out of the dryer while they’re still warm, you can also turn your dryer back on for just a couple minutes (literally two or three — you don’t want to shrink them). Give the dryer just enough time to warm the laundry the whole way through, then fold or hang. Most minor wrinkles will hang out or you can smooth them out while folding.

    I also ditto the people who line dry. I dry all of my laundry (except bras) until it’s damp, then I pull out and hang jeans, cotton shirts, things with applique/embroidery — basically anything that I wouldn’t want to shrink — on hangers from a line stretched across my laundry room. (Then I turn the dryer on and finish drying whatever’s left.) Most wrinkles hang out, and the clothes stay nice for a very long time. My unisex kids’ clothes are on the fourth child, and they still look nice.

  • Lots of good ideas here, Ive never heard of a dry cleaning bag, not sure if they are available in Australia. I wash in cold water to preserve colour, then shake and hang dry on hangers inside, never outside in the sun. Woollens I dry flat on towels. I don’t dry clothing in the dryer, afraid of shrinkage. I use laundry bags or lingerie bags for lingerie and other delicate items and socks ( keeps them all together) I dislike dry cleaning, have had dry cleaners ruin several items and buttons because they did not take care. Some items like coats have to be dry cleaned. I don’t like ironing, but still iron to have clothes looking fresh and wrinkle free, would love a steamer they seem like a good idea.

  • Just thought it was important to mention that you should NOT hang sweaters and other knits to dry! Most sweaters need to dry flat, or they will become stretched out and misshapen very quickly. In fact, wool and cashmere sweaters should not even be hung when dry. I do hang my cheaper thin cotton sweaters, but their life could also be extended by folding flat. Scratchy sweaters can also be softened using hair conditioner!
    Also, bras and wool or cashmere items should be handwashed (not dry cleaned) to maximize their life.

  • Clothes need the real care which most people ignore at. Getting along with these simple and smart tips can be very much effective in maintaining the clothes that can come for longer life time.

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