We’ve been talking all this month about how to #loveyourclothes; and today we’re looking at caring for your wardrobe. Looking after your clothes by washing correctly is really the best way to ensure they last longer, and reduces the risks of damage. Here are some general tips for showing your wardrobe some love:
- Wash clothes only when they have visible marks, or smell
- Wash on cold – most laundry detergents are even designed to be best at cold now! Clothes cleaning causes a range of environmental impacts, including carbon emissions and water pollution. Recent WRAP research estimates that the washing and drying of clothes accounts for 25% of the carbon footprint of UK clothing in use each year [WRAP, 2012, Valuing Our Clothes]. Research in France found that the “use phase” of a pair of jeans contributes 35-59% of carbon emissions and water eutrophication, and more than 60% of human toxicity impacts [Defra, 2009, Reducing the Environmental Impact of Clothes Cleaning]. Reducing the frequency of washing therefore has significant potential to reduce impacts. Research for WRAP has shown that a 10% reduction in the number of washes per year would reduce the carbon footprint of UK clothing by around 3% [WRAP, 2012, Valuing Our Clothes].
- Put delicate fabrics in a laundry bag when washing, to prevent snags
- Wash with zips closed, and buttons unbuttoned, to avoid tearing your clothes as they roll around in the washing machine
- Wash like for like – colours, fibres, fabric weight should all be similar in each wash
- Hang up your clothes within 2 hours of your wash finishing for best freshness
- Really try to avoid tumble drying if you can. A recent study has found that tumble dryers are one of the major contributors to microplastics being discharged into the air [Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett. 2022, 9, 2, 120–126], as the abrasion and heat of clothes leads to microfibres rubbing off them; and polyester was used in 56% of new clothes made in 2020 [Common Objective]. They use a lot more energy than washing machines, and create a lot of strain on the fabrics of your clothes, making them more fragile to tears. Also, I’m sure we’ve all experienced the pain of clothes shrinking in the high temperature of the tumble dryer
- Hang up your clothes spread out without wrinkles, as they can dry with crumples. If you use pegs, don’t put any unnecessary strain on delicate bits
- Take note of the care labels on your knitwear, to check if you should hand wash them
- Dry flat to avoid the knit warping and becoming a bad fit
- Debobble your knits to keep them looking fresh – razors, scissors, or a dedicated knit shaver all work
- Keep the moths away! They love undisturbed, dirty or dusty corners, so keep your drawers and wardrobe clean and regularly rotated.
- Keep knitwear folded, not hung up on hangers
The internet is awash with every trick under the sun to get rid of stains, and we aren’t about to try and list everything you could use! So here are some general tips:
- Blot the stain as soon as you notice it – don’t let it dry as is
- Try gently hand washing tricky stains with cold water first- hot water and rubbing can set the stain into the fibres
- Check the fabric care labels to get an idea of the requirements for the clothes
- Check the item before hanging to see if the stain has gone – once the garment dries the stain will be set
- Consider switching to wooden or padded hangers to prevent your clothes stretching out of shape – note that all woods contain acids which could damage delicate fabrics over time
- Don’t have an overflowing wardrobe – your clothes need space to breathe and have space to hang without bunching
- If you must put clothes in long term storage, put them in clean, dry and lidded boxes (not cardboard) with acid free tissue paper to avoid degradation. Make sure they are fresh from laundry before storing.
- Once again, don’t store clothes in direct contact with wood
- Keep the place you store your clothes dry, free of dust and ideally cool
- Know what’s in your wardrobe by taking everything out and reviewing twice a year- see what needs fixing, what isn’t being worn and should be donated, if there’s something you love but had forgotten about
We hope these tips will help you get more life out of your clothes. It’s well worth that extra bit of effort to keep your fave garms in your life for as long as possible. Share any tips with us and your family and friends, and we can all love our clothes for longer!