Basic Fabric & Garment Care -Keep your favourite clothes fresh and new

If you take care of your things they will last a long time – this adage cannot be more true for clothes than anything else.

It is true that the dresses you get nowadays are ‘use and throw’ stuff. But there are many clothing in your wardrobe which you may want to keep wearing for a long long time – the classics, the ones that fit you well, the heirloom one, or one of sentimental value like your precious wedding dress. And all you need to do is bestow some Tender Loving Care to your clothes. Here is how to.

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 garment care

Basic Garment care -20 Rules to follow

Rule No. 1 First rule to taking care of your clothes is to buy quality clothes. If the garment is made of the best fabric with the best construction ( good stitching; sturdy seams ; interfaced hems and necklines) your job is made easier.Make sure that the seam stitching of the garment is strong and all embellishments are firmly fixed.

Rule No. 2 Always empty pockets, zip up the zippers, remove any pins , brooches, badges and remove delicate embellishments like ribbon flowers before washing the garment. Also separate clothes according to colour before washing to make sure that colours do not bleed and latch onto other clothes

Rule No. 3 Turning the clothes inside out before washing is another good idea to maintain their looks

Rule No. 4 Do not overload the washing machine and do not use too much detergent.

Rule No. 5 Do not wear socks and underwear more than once. This is basic hygiene as well as great for social skills. You do not want others to run away from you . No one will tell you the reason and you may never know that the reason is you stink.

Rule No. 6 If you have a very expensive dress or a garment which says dry clean only, do not take the risk of cleaning it yourself. At least for the first two – three cleanings give it  to the professionals. Choose the best dry cleaner you have in your vicinity. Do not settle for  a cheap place – you will surely ruin  your garment for the sake of saving pennies. Velvet, brocades, silk, expensive satin are all better left to the dry cleaners for cleaning. Tailored jackets and suits are also better dry cleaned.

Rule No. 7 Wash bed linen ( bed sheets, pillowcases) and towels ( kitchen towels , terry towels) separately from clothes. These fabrics give out lint and they will latch on to your clothes.

Rule No. 8 Always wash the lingerie  (especially brassieres) in a lingerie bag in the washing machine. Checkout this tutorial to make a lingerie bag for yourself . The delicate lingerie will last longer.

lingerie wash bag

Rule No. 9 Homemade detergents work as well as store bought detergents. Make them yourself. The harsh detergents maybe causing allergic reactions and you may not be aware of it.

Rule No. 10 Hang to dry colored clothes away from direct sunlight or for a short duration. The colors may fade with exposure to sunlight.

Rule No. 11 Fold the washed and dried clothes and keep it neatly arranged inside the wardrobe rather than stuffed inside the laundry bag. There will be less wrinkles to iron

Rule No. 12 Do not hang sweaters and other stretchy clothes ( like those made with  knit fabrics). They are best folded and laid  down flat inside  drawers

Rule No. 13 Do not stuff your wardrobe with clothes. Best way is to remove not-in-season clothes or occasion clothes into another luggage and store somewhere else. This way clothes will breathe easy

Rule No. 14 Use appropriate hangers – rounded / padded hangers ae great for hanging pants and shawls.  Very thin metal hangers ( plastic coated) are inexpensive but not so great for hanging your expensive clothes. Never ever hang a wet cloth on these metal hangers. If there is a small crack on the plastic coating the metal stain will latch on to the  fabric. If you have suits / tailored jackets do use special hangers for them

Rule No. 15 If you are hanging clothes for a very long time, ensure that you change the fold at regular intervals. Otherwise the folded line may start to wear away.

Rule No. 16 After wearing your dress if you notice that there is a spot in your dress made by a food spill or dirt, dab the spot with a wet tissue / cloth at once. With time ( time it takes you to get home and clean it) the stain may have set in permanently. ( Do not do this if you feel that the fabric of your dress will bleed with wet spot cleaning; if so a dry swipe will be all you can do – and then take it to the dry cleaners). For more details on stain removal check out the post on stain removers here

Rule No. 17 A light brushing with a small garment brush may take care of dust. This brushing is also good for removing lint from the clothes

Rule No. 18 After wearing your dress if you see a tear in it,  repair it immediately. Do not wait for  repairing it after washing it – the washing will make the hole bigger. Mend it by darning or patching. Checkout this post on sewing patches to repair clothes.

Rule No. 19 After you have worn a particular dress, and you are not going to wash it this time, check for any sign of  dampness, even sweat. Hang it out  (outside or inside under a fan)  to dry before hanging it inside the wardrobe. Dampness will cause ( especially from sweat ) a bad smell.

Rule No. 20 Learn all you can about the way you should treat different fabric fibers. Refer the chart below for caring instructions for different types of fabrics.

How to take care of clothes made of different fabrics

Type of fabric of garmentHow to washHow to dryHow to iron
LinenNot all linen can be washed by machine or hand ; some has to be drycleaned. If fabric care label says washable use cold water only.Hand washing softens linen. Shrinkage is common.Tumble dry may cause wrinklesIron when damp to get rid of wrinkles/ cotton or linen settings. Use steam with medium or high heat
CottonMachine wash cold/ warm / hot; some shrinkage expectedTumble dry low; take more time to dryHigh heat settings ok
NylonMachine wash in cold water. Use fabric softener in the final rinse.Tumble dry in low heat settingsIron in nylon/ low heatsettings
PolyesterMachine wash in w warm water; heat damagesTumble dry in low heat settingsIron in nylon/ low or medium heat settings
Spandex / LycraHand wash Preferred in cold water; can also be Machine washed; Do not use chlorine bleachDrip drying preferred without wringing; can be machine dried in low temperature.Iron in nylon/ low heat settings
Wool, Mohair, Cashmere, Camel, AlpacaBrush surface to remove dirt; wash by hand or dry cleaningDrip dry or hang dryUse steam and medium heat settings
SilkHand wash or dry cleanDo not tumble dry; line dryIron in nylon/ low heatsettings; Iron inside-out
FleeceHand wash or Machine washDo not tumble dry; Hang to dryIron in nylon/ low heatsettings
RayonDryclean preferred ; you can hand wash the fabric ; Do not wring or use bleachDo not tumble dry ; hang to dryIron in low settings from the back of the fabric ie inside-out on low heat
Beaded / sequin fabricHand wash as machine wash can remove glue of sequins or break the delicate chain stitchDo not tumble dry - lay flat to dryIron in low heat settings from the back
AcetateDry clean recommended for most clothing;Some may be hand washed. Never wring or twist to remove water.Air dryIron in low heat settings
AcrylicMachine wash using warm waterMachine dry in low heat setting onlyIron in low heat settings

Wool and silk

Wool and silk are natural fibers just like your hair. So take care of them the same way and they will look as good as new always. You may have to clean them professionally ( at the dry cleaners) if their care label says so, unless you are ready to take the risk ( possible bleed, shrinkage).

Wash wool / cashmere / silk clothes with baby shampoo and hang to dry in cold water. Lay flat to dry for sweaters to prevent over stretchness. Press from the inside before it is completely dry. Store in a dry dark place.

Do not hang wool clothes. They will stretch out of shape.Checkout this post on wool care for more tips

what is wool

Checkout this detailed post on taking care of your cashmere clothes for more tips

cashmere wash care tips

Donot hang silk clothes in the same position for a long period. Checkout this post on more tips to take care of silk clothes 

washing and cleaning silk

Cotton and Linen

These are woven fabrics which can be washed at home in the washing machine. They shrink after wash, so consider this shrinkage when buying clothes in cotton and linen. Dark colored cotton and linen also bleed. The colors in these fabric fade fast . A spray starch  / dip and starch will make cotton and linen fabrics crisp and fresh, especially for collars and cuffs.

Some linen fabric has to be dry washed . Check the care label for correct information.

Iron cotton and linen from the inside , using steam at a hot iron setting.

Polyester Rayon and Nylon

Polyester and Nylon are easy to manage and care for – washing and drying are quite easy. You can tumble dry these fabrics. When ironing nylon and polyester clothes use the low heat settings. The fabric burns at high temperature. Learn more about Polyester care here.

will polyester shrink

rayon clothing fabric