Buying clothes created to last is one thing. Making them last is another. From knowing what fabrics last to learning how to care for them, sometimes clothing care can feel like a guessing game despite their fabric care instructions. Properly caring for your clothes helps you save money over the long haul, potentially enabling you to share clothes with friends or passing down clothes between kids or other family members over the years, even through generations.
However, learning how to take care of your clothes isn’t just ideal for your wallet, but also the environment. The fewer clothes that end up in landfills, the fewer resources, and raw materials, from water to electricity, go to waste in making them. Fast fashion is on its way out as more brands invest in quality fabrics that can better withstand washes under harsher conditions, and as consumers become more eco-savvy. You may be done with last season’s trends, but their effects linger in their continued presence in landfills for decades. The Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) finds many textile factories so dangerous that it regulates them as hazardous waste generators – the chemicals used in making and treating fabrics lingering for hundreds of years in soil and groundwater. Clothing and footwear account for more than 8 percent of global gas emissions associated with the effects of human-made climate change.
Here are five ways to approach clothing care from Clothing Shop Online:
1. Purchasing Quality Clothing
- What to look for when buying clothes
No matter what you choose to wear, you should genuinely enjoy it, making it more likely you’ll continue wearing a garment. According to the E.P.A.’s 2015 data, the last year for which it has related information, the U.S. generated about 75 pounds of textile waste per person, which reveals more than ten times the population’s increase 1960. As important as your purchase’s quality is, ask yourself, will you wear that garment again? Or are you purchasing it for single-use? Purchasing quality clothing centers on a variety of issues that aren’t limited to fabric and structure.
Does a clothing piece fit well? Does it feel pleasant to the touch? A good fit makes it more likely that you’ll keep wearing something, even if it may no longer be on-trend.
Can you see through it? Can you pull it? If you can, it’s too thin, which means that lovely piece is too high maintenance. If you’re not committed to washing a piece of clothing by hand and letting it air dry or don’t want to invest in dry cleaning, it’ll end up buried in your closet or the trash. Generally speaking, thicker fabrics last longer than thinner ones, like silk, because they can withstand multiple washes and may take less work to clean. At the same rate, if you can tug at something and the stitches readily show, then it wasn’t constructed with durability in mind. Stitches should be even, at least eight per inch.
Is it made from a quality blend? Does it feel pleasant to the touch? When buying new clothes, look for linings, high-quality cotton, and Tencel. Linings in work pants, work jackets, and some dresses help delicate fabric last longer by preventing the material from rubbing on itself, which can thin it out over time.
Unlike shorter-strand cotton, Pimas or cotton blended with polyester are longer, more durable, and less likely to pill. While this tendency also makes fabrics more expensive, consider how much you’ll save by not having to replace clothing often, or pay for costly dry cleaning. Buy clothes made from polyester with caution, however, since polyester is primarily plastic, creating microplastics that end up in drinking water. Natural fabrics also tend to pill less than synthetic ones.
b. Purchasing Wardrobe Staples
Versatility, or the ability to wear something with various things in your closet, ensures that you’ll keep wearing an item of clothing. As “capsule wardrobes” become more popular, versatile clothing options have come into vogue. Beyond their timelessness, wardrobe basics like quality denim, a unisex white t-shirt, a basic blazer, a little black dress for women, or durable boots for men can last years, if not decades, if you spend the time taking care of your clothing.
2. Reading Clothing Care Labels
Laundry symbols read like code for many people. Unlike writing code for software or websites, you don’t need several books or screens open to understanding clothing care labels. Washing and drying symbols indicate precisely how to maintain your clothing without the guesswork. Investing in a clothesline or drying rack can help you extend the life of your clothes significantly. But if you’re not willing to put in the extra effort, avoid buying clothing that requires this kind of maintenance in the first place since it will cost you time.
When in doubt, you can also wash your clothes less often, like denim or blazers, which don’t require washing with each use. Unlike cotton t-shirts or athletic wear, which need to be laundered often to prevent bacteria buildup, you can get away with not washing some clothing items every time you wear it.
Before purchasing clothing, always read clothing care labels to decide whether you can commit to its maintenance.
a. Washing Labels
Fortunately, wash labels help us immediately decide at which temperature or cycle we need to launder clothes. Most clothing off the rack comes with washing techniques indicated by symbols. Manufacturers usually designate temperature by the number of dots in the water symbol signified by waves. “Wash cold” ranges between 65 and 85F, often referring to more delicate fabrics like linen or silk, and some poly-blends, while “wash warm” goes up to 105F max. The line between washing fabrics in cold or warm water is often thin, but you can get it right by washing it on cold when it is doubtful. “Wash hot” reaches up to 120F maximum beyond which clothes may wear down faster or shrink.
In contrast, a tub symbol represents various wash cycles with one or two lines drawn under it. Options include: “machine wash,” “hand wash,” “do not wash,” “dry clean only,” and “do not dry clean.” More simply, some labels clarify things by suggesting you wash on normal, permanent press, or the delicate cycle.
b. Drying Labels
To help avoid shrinking your clothes, drying labels offer symbols to help you navigate the drying process. Symbols like the square with a circle in the center indicate if tumble-drying is permitted, while the square with a cross through it communicates that you need to wring out the garment. A square with a horizontal line means you need to lay the garment flat to dry. Hand wash symbols appear as a tub with a hand sign.
3. Removing Stains
While manufacturers may provide washing and drying labels, stain removal is more complicated. Get it right every time with this Stain Removal Guide from Clothing Shop Online.
4. Ironing and Steaming Clothes
a. Different Temperatures for Different Fabrics
Ironing applies heat to the fabric fibers, loosening them; however, if done incorrectly, there’s a chance you could burn or yellow fabric, especially delicate ones like silk and some synthetics. Different irons have varying heat levels, but this is a general guide:
· Linen: 445° F
· Cotton: 400° F
· Rayon: 375° F
· Wool: 300° F
· Polyester: 300° F
· Silk: 300° F
· Acetate: 290° F
· Acrylic: 275° F
· Lycra: 275° F
· Nylon: 275° F
b. When you should steam clothing
You can steam clothing either with the steam function on your iron or with a separate, handheld steamer. Rather than worry about temperature controls, steaming uses heated moisture to release wrinkles while a garment hangs, saving a lot of time and ironing techniques. Steaming also deoterizes clothing, but be very careful with the steam itself as it can burn your skin as easily as a hot iron.
5. Learning how to repair clothing
The best way to care for clothing is to prevent damage by making sure to rotate clothing and store different garments properly. For example, use the right hangers (wood or felt, never wire), give garments room to breathe, and fold heavier items like wool sweaters, so they don’t stretch out. In addition, learning mending basics – like replacing a button or sewing a fallen hem – can not only help your garments endure but can also save you a lot of money over the life of your clothes. Invest in a basic sewing kit with a variety of colors and needle sizes and research YouTube videos on how to sew if you don’t already know the basics.
6. Caring for Different Fabrics
Caring for your clothes doesn’t have to be intimidating or confusing once you learn and practice the basics of clothing care from these tips from Clothing Shop Online.