Recently we had a question about caring for fabrics and clothing procured from Swap Society. We’re happy to guide you through the process of properly caring for your clothes! It’s first, and foremost, important to read the care label before attempting any sort of cleaning process. Although this post can serve as a general guide, some garments have special instructions from the brand that are not to be ignored!
Make Sure to Pretreat Stains
Step number one in caring for your clothes is to keep stains at bay. Although it’s annoying to stop what you’re doing to treat a stain, the garment will last longer if you do. Pretreat stains, when the stains occur, or definitely before washing. You can get a natural stain remover bar, use castile soap, or detergent. By getting the stain wet, and massaging in one of the three, you can fight the stain better than if you just threw it in the wash. It’s best to use natural products when possible because it will benefit your health, the environment, and most of all, your clothing. If you are constantly using harsh chemicals on your pieces they will break down quicker.
Cold Water Always
Whether machine or hand washing, cold water is always the best bet. Although it may be tempting to use hot water to clean your clothes, there’s a much higher risk of colors running, garments being damaged, and energy being wasted. While many are committed to sorting their clothing into colors, I personally only separate my whites from the rest of the garments. I know that can seem reckless, but if you stick to washing with cold, your colors won’t bleed anyway! This saves water, energy, and money.
Fine fabrics like wool, linen, and silk should be hand washed when possible. However, linen and wool can be machine washed, you just have to be careful. Wash these fabrics on a gentle cycle with intimates and other delicate items. More durable fabrics like cotton, polyester, and nylon (with the exception of hosiery) can almost always be machine washed on a regular cycle. Lastly, denim only needs to be washed a few times a year. Air out your denim after each wear, freeze them to remove odors, and throw them in the dryer (with a load) to kill some of those germs in between washes.
When in Doubt, Hang to Dry
Although those durable fabrics can often be tumble dried, the safest option continues to be hanging clothes to dry. Make a small investment in a clothing rack and drastically increase the life of you garments! Always hang dry delicates, hosiery, exercise items, socks, and fragile fabrics (wool, linen, silk, 100% cotton) to keep them from losing their shape or shrinking in size. Polyester, nylon, and poly-blends can usually go into the dryer on medium or low heat.
A Note on Dry Cleaning
Dry cleaning can be incredibly toxic and often unnecessary. There are few items that cannot be gently hand washed instead of dry cleaned. If it seems as though it is imperative to dry clean something (leather, embellished items etc.) then I highly recommend finding a green cleaner near you. No nasty chemicals means longer lasting garments and protecting your precious skin.
We hoped this post helped you to see that correctly cleaning your clothes is not as complicated as it seems! If you have more questions don’t hesitate to send us a message. We’re always happy to help.
P.S. Please, please, please make sure your clothes are freshly laundered before you send them in to swap!
Audrey Stanton was born and raised in the Bay Area and is currently based in Los Angeles. She has attended the Fashion Institute of Technology, London College of Fashion, and received a BFA in costume design from the California Institute of the Arts. Audrey is deeply passionate about conscious fashion and hopes to continue to spread awareness and love for ethical consumption. Visit her blog audstant.com and follow her on Instagram for lots of #slowfashion inspiration!