I think I speak for almost everyone when I say that clothes are quite expensive and yet money remains a scarce resource. So for every piece of clothing bought, you want it to last as long as possible. Now the lifespan of a piece of clothing can be longer or shorter depending on our methods of care. As we all know, garments can lose shape, fade or start to look simply old.
Therefore, to protect your cherished investment, here are some tips to help you avoid laundry mistakes that can easily send your clothes from the closet to the rag or disposal bag.
Always sort laundry
The canon of laundry care is to always sort clothes first. When you throw your clothes into a washer, they essentially dance with each other as they move around. Would you want your lacy, nylon blouse dancing close to a jagged metal zipper on a hooded jacket? Probably not. And if you’re using hand wash, you probably don’t want to find your white vest of undershirt soaked next to a dyed blue or black t-shirt because we all know what the result of that would be.
Another benefit of sorting laundry correctly is that when it is time to use the dryer, one type of fabric will not be “cooked” while others are still quite damp when you select the correct drying temperature.
Inspect, treat and re-inspect stains
Stains happen and the number one rule of treating stains is to catch them as quickly as possible. Therefore, always be keen to check every garment for stains that may need additional treatment before being washed. If you don’t have time to treat the stain promptly, mark the spot with a clothespin or huge safety pin so you’ll remember to treat it before washing.
But after all is done and dusted, forget not to recheck the stained area after washing. If it is not gone, repeat the treatment. The stain will be much harder to remove if it is dried and sometimes even ironed.
Read fabric care labels
Unless you are a well-experienced laundry expert, you must read the care labels in clothing. If it says wash in cold water, then believe it. If the label says dry clean only, believe it—especially if the item is new. You have no reason to deep it in a basin or tossing it into the washer.
And as you gain experience, you will eventually learn that some items labeled hand-wash can be placed in the washer on a gentle cycle—or that some unstructured garments like sweaters or knit garments can be hand-washed rather than dry cleaned.
Go easy with detergents and fabric conditioner
Most people are guilty of often using too much laundry detergent or fabric softener for the simple misconception that more detergent always equates to more or faster cleaning. For those using machines, the extra detergent simply settles back on the clothing and leaves the finish dull and stiff.
For a step in the right direction, even if you opt for hand washing—begin by using half of the usual amount of detergent and perhaps some baking soda as a detergent booster. You will be amazed by the results when your laundry comes out just as clean and you’ll be saving money. If you are not pleased with the results, try add a bit more detergent the next time but not too much. Commercial fabric conditioners or softeners like Downy can help clothes last longer. These work by coating fibers with lubricants that make the fabrics feel softer to the touch.
Don’t overload the washer
Cramming the washer full of clothes may seem like the easy way to get more laundry done quickly, but it is harmful to your clothing. First, they don’t get as clean as would be expected. Secondly, they rub together so much while in there causing harm to your clothes. Learn how to load a washer properly to protect your clothing investment.
Button up and zip it
If you’re using buttoning, zipping or closing your garments, they will be less likely to snag another fabric or even snap themselves. You don’t want to find clothes hooked to each other.
Your clothing will also last longer if after you’ve buttoned them up, you turn them inside out. This will prevent wear and tear on the outer finish, help prevent pilling and limit color fading.
Use a Mesh Bag for Delicates
A mesh laundry bag can be your best friend for protecting delicate garments like lingerie when you wash them. It is also wonderful for socks and baby items that are so small they seem to disappear. Put all the little pieces in one bag, and you’ll always find them and their matching pairs.
Be very careful with bleach
Please be very careful with bleach because chlorine bleach will damage any fabric—including white cotton—if used in too high a concentration. Always dilute any bleach and learn to use it safely. Bleach stains can occur when bleach is accidentally splashed on clothing.
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