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 is the basic theory of maintenance that has been drilled down onto me from childhood and this adage cannot be more true for clothes than anything else.

It is true that the dresses you get nowdays are ‘use and throw’ stuff. But there are many pieces in your wardrobe which you may want to keep wearing for a long long time – the classics , the ones with the best fitting, the heirloom one, or your precious wedding dress .

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Take care of some basic things and you can enjoy wearing these clothes many more times.

 garment care

Basic Garment care

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.

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 donot bleed and latch onto other clothes

Turning the clothes inside out before washing is another good idea to maintain their looks

Do not overload the washing machine and do not use too much detergent.

Do not wear socks and underwear more than once. This is basic hygiene as well as great for social skills. You donot 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.

If you have a very expensive dress or a garment which says dry clean only, donot take the risk of cleaning it yourself. Atleast for the first two – three cleanings give it  to the professionals. Choose the best dry cleaner you have in your viccinity. Donot settle for  a cheap place – you will surely ruin  your garment for the sake of saving pennies. Velvets, brocades, silk, expensive satin are all better left to the dry cleaners for cleaning. Tailored jackets and suits are also better drycleaned.

Wash bed linen ( bed sheets, pillowcases) and towels ( kitchen towels , terry towels) seperately from clothes. These fabrics give out lint and they will latch on to your clothes.

Always wash the lingerie  ( brassiers ) in a lingerie bag in the washing machine. Checkout this tutorual to make a lingerie bag for yourself . The delicate lingerie will last longer.

lingerie wash bag

Homemade detergents work as well as store bought detergents. Make them yourself. The harsh detergents maybe causing allergic reactions and you maynot be aware of it.

Hang to dry coloured clothes away from direct sunlight or for a short duration. The colours may fade with exposure to sunlight.

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

Do not hang sweaters and other stretchy clothes ( like those made with  knit fabrics). They are best folded and laid  down flat inside  drawers

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

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

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.

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 permenantly. ( Donot 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

A light brushing with a small garment brush may take care of dust. This brushing is also good for removing lint from the clothes

After wearing your dress if you see a tear in it,  repair it immediately. Donot 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.

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.

 How to take care of clothes made of different fabrics

Type of fabric of garmentHow to washHow to dryHow to iron
LinenSome linen maybe washed by machine or hand ; some has to be drycleaned. Hand washing softens linenTumble 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 waterTumble 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 or Machine wash; Do not use chlorine bleachDrip drying preferred without wringingIron in nylon/ low heatsettings
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 drycleanDo 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
Acrylic / AcetateMachine 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.

Donot 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 coloured cotton and linen also bleed. The colours 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

will polyester shrink

rayon clothing fabric