There is little to argue about repeating an outfit and its benefits both economically and on the environment. However, as much as wearing the same clothes is important, so is keeping them clean, again for both your appearance and health. But, are the clothes you wear the only pieces of fabric around you? Certainly not. Laundry includes everything from bedsheets to rugs, your outfits, tablecloth, and more, and therefore, to have a variety of fabrics to wash on the laundry day is only natural.
However, incorrect washing shortens fabric life in terms of lost elasticity, subsiding material quality, fading color, etc. Maintaining the longevity and quality of a different fabric type requires a different washing routine and methods, making a single toss of everything in the washing machine a big no-no. To help you, below is a detailed guide on handling and washing different types of fabrics. So, let’s get started.
Polyester is one of the most extensively used fabrics worldwide. It is also the most used fabric (artificial) in the United States. From pillows to curtains, carpets, bedspreads, sheets, etc., you can find polyester everywhere. But apart from being softer and stronger than several other fabrics, credit to its massive popularity also goes to the resilience it shows, making it a relatively easy fabric to take care of.
One can wash it directly in the washing machine using a permanent press cycle. But make sure the water temperature you use is warm, not hot water nor cold, for best results. You must avoid using high temperatures in dryers as well, set it on low heat, or better let the fabric air dry. Since polyester can be stubborn with stains, soak it in stain remover before the wash. Add some fabric softener during the last cleaning cycle for softer results.
Cotton is considered one of the best fabric types thanks to its many qualities, from breathable to absorbent, lightweight, and comfortable. And therefore, this versatile and natural fiber of cotton plant finds popularity and wide usage in garments from baby clothes to T-shirts and even delicate dresses.
Cotton fabrics tend to shrink if it is not already processed or preshrunk. So, begin by ensuring that you’ve read the label. For example, if it reads “cold water only,” you must wash them with extra caution. But, again, hand washing is the best possible way to avoid shrinkage. If it says preshrunk, you can wash them at any water temperature, be it hot, warm, or cold, as per the fabric’s color, care recommendations on the label, etc. You may add chlorine bleach to remove stains from your white cotton fabrics if the label agrees. As for the colored ones, using a non-chlorine bleach formula is ideal for brightening them up. Coldwater wash is suitable for all cotton fabrics as it also helps preserve its color and brightness. Always try to line dry your cotton garment. However, if needed, maintain the dryer temperature to medium while ensuring that you remove them while still a little cool.
Made from the natural protein fiber of silkworm, silk fabric is not only strong, supple, and shiny, but it is also luxurious, expensive, and one of the world’s oldest clothing fabrics. You must handle silk with care, including how you wash it and if you even should wash it.
While washable, many silk weave patterns are such that they will tighten or pucker when washed, not to mention how some deep tones also tend to fade. You must accurately follow the labels on the garment when handling silk. For example, if it says the term dry cleaning, chances are it will not survive washing, so avoid that at all costs. As for others that are washable, hand washing is the only way to go. The first step is to take a damp cloth and see if the color leaks by dabbing on the fabric. If it bleeds, dry cleaning machines it is. If it does not bleed, skip the dry cleaning process and use only mild formulated products made for delicate fabrics for handwashing it. Let it soak in detergent for a few minutes, gently rub, rinse, and let dry. Do not ever put your silk in a dryer; instead, place them in a towel to dab out the moisture, followed by hanging them to air dry.
Linen is a delicate and ornate fabric made of natural fibers of the flax plant and is in apparel, drapery, tablecloths, etc. However, it is again not a fabric that you should roughly handle.
Linen is a decently durable fabric and therefore does not always boast the need to be dry cleaned. But, one must still check the care label for clear instructions. If the label allows hand washing or machine washing, use mild detergents and cold water for the purpose. Use the washing machine on a gentle cycle. As for hand wash, avoid scrubbing, twisting, and wriggling the fabric. Since linen tends to absorb more water than fabrics, make sure you don’t let them overcrowd the machine with other clothes. Let your linen air dry. But since linen wrinkles easily, when ironing, turn your fabric inside out while using the steam in a hot setting.
Wool is popular as it is naturally insulating, soft, easy to dye, and a widely worn fabric while also finding great value in making rugs and various other cozy items around the house.
While wool is washable in its natural state, it is not always the case when buying a finished product, as several construction methods can leave them unfit for washing. So, make sure you check the care label to see if a dry cleaning process is necessary. Follow the label for machine or hand washing as instructed, though always use a gentle laundry detergent and lukewarm water for the process. Though the cold water temperature is appropriate, it can, in some cases, lead to shrinkage, making lukewarm water a better choice. For hand washing, turn the fabric inside out, submerge it in for 10 minutes, followed by a couple of gentle rinses. Don’t wring the excess water out; press instead. Also, air-dry your wool, but without hanging them, as it can cause them to stretch.
Washing clothes though not everyone’s favorite task, is undoubtedly necessary and inevitable. However, it is best to avoid dry cleaning for clothes all the time, considering how it costs heavy while also being bad for the environment. It is because dry cleaning is a process that uses solvents other than water, such as petroleum-based solvents, for cleaning purposes. These chemicals cause both water and soil contamination, while the dry cleaning machines cause air pollution. Therefore, opt for wet cleaning whenever possible with caution regarding the fabric type, color, special stain requirements, etc.