One of the most important steps in maintaining your wardrobe is proper laundering. I’ve seen poorly-made garments last a lifetime while well-made garments fade and fall apart because they weren’t properly cared for. So let’s talk about how to launder for your clothing so it lasts.
This is a really important step! You don’t want your favorite black cashmere sweater accidentally getting mixed into your bulk laundry. I suggest keeping a separate laundry bin for the clothing that needs a little extra attention. This bin should be made of soft material so it doesn’t snag your clothing.
Ideally, I would tell you to wash all similar items together, but, life happens so do you best. Prioritize washing lights and darks together. Separate true whites and wash them with special detergent. Ideally separate jeans and wash them with special detergent, but I often wash them with bulk darks.
To prepare your clothes for the wash, read the garment label and follow the directions. Next address any stains (shop my favorite stain solutions below). Then, turn garments inside-out, clasp or unclasp any buttons (refer to garment label) and place in mesh washing bag (if necessary). I use the mesh washing bag for any delicate garments, garments that get easily tangled (something with a drawstring) and sweaters that tend to pill a lot. I also use it when I’m being lazy and I’m “risking” washing something slightly delicate with a bulk load.
Again, read the directions on the garment label. Most clothing does require some special washing instructions; but again, life happens! Just do your best. I typically wash the majority of my lights together on a warm water setting, and my darks together on a cold water setting. All special clothing is washed on a cold, delicate cycle! I repeat, all special clothing is washed on a cold, delicate cycle! There is no better way to ruin your favorite new tee shirt then washing it and drying it on a hot cycle.
You’re not gonna like this one, but most of your clothing should not go in the dryer. I know, I know. Get yourself a nice drying rack and commit. I will often pop a cotton garment in the dryer for 10 minutes just to fluff it. But set a timer, because you’ll forget! Silk, wool and cashmere should never ever go in the dryer or it will immediately become baby clothes.
I call the last step “processing” my clothing. Honestly, I have no idea why, but it feels right. So what is processing your clothing? Preparing it to be worn after it is washed. I.e., ironing, steaming or air fluffing in the dryer. I have a rule that the clothing doesn’t get hung up in my closet before it’s processed. Otherwise, I will NEVER wear it (who wants to iron at 7am?!). Ironing is a bummer, there’s no way around it. But if I batch it and put on a podcast for 20 minutes, it feels more manageable.
PS – don’t skip this step! 99% of my clients say their goal is to look “put together” – a wrinkly shirt is the opposite of put together.
You’ve heard me mention “bulk laundry” and you might be wondering what that is. I consider bulk laundry to be anything that doesn’t require special attention. Group similar colors and fabrics together. I like to take it a step further and group soil level. In a perfect world, I wash outdoor / gardning clothes together, exercise clothes together, etc. But never mix towels with your bulk load (the fabric can get stuck to other fabrics). And always wash dish towels on their own.
I’m not keen on dry cleaning unless I absolutely have to. So, I wash my wool, cashmere, silks, synthetics at home and much prefer the outcome.
For “dry clean only” sweaters, I turn inside out, use a mesh bag (if necessary), and wash on a cold, delicate cycle using Wool and Cashmere Shampoo. NEVER EVER put them in the dryer! Lay out to dry.
Wash these items together using Delicate Wash and a mesh bag when necessary. Synthetics include polyester, nylon, spandex, rayon, etc. Be use to read the fabric makeup before washing – some sweaters are made up of completely synthetic materials these days, so beware!
Ah, the fabric of our lives…. Cotton can be surprisingly tricky. Many of my clients are on the search for the perfect tee shirt that lasts. Well, that tee shirt only exists if you care for it properly. Whether you paid $85 for this 100% cotton Frame tee shirt (which is a client fave) or $20 for this 100% cotton J. Crew tee shirt, it will look terrible if you wash and dry on high heat. My suggestion is to wash on cold (throw it in a bag if you’re washing it with a bulk load). Then pop it in the dryer for 10 minutes. Again, set an alarm because you’ll forget. If it slips into the the dryer once or twice, it’s probably fine, but don’t make a habit out of it.
Again, refer to the washing instructions. Most will say hand wash or delicate cycle. I usually wash mine in a delicate cycle or with bulk laundry in a bag. Of course, something pretty or lacy should be dealt with specially.
Give your bathing suit a good rinse in the sink or shower immediately after use. Sometimes I like to soak my bathing suits in a delicate wash or non-bleach solution. Then, place in a mesh bag (so the straps don’t tangle) and wash on a delicate, low spin cycle. Lay flat to dry.
You’ve probably noticed by now that I’m a big fan or Laundress Products. I use many of their products for special laundry. For bulk laundry, sheets, towels, etc., I use Mrs. Meyers Laundry Pods and Dryer Sheets (lavender scent).
The Laundress website is a great resource for laundry and stain troubleshooting. They have a Stain Guide that is sure to send you in the right direction. I love all their stain products. I don’t leave home without this stain spray! It’s truly magical and non-toxic. I keep one in my diaper bag, one in the kitchen, one upstairs and one in the laundry room (maybe a bit overkill, but what can I say, we have a toddler).
Lastly, it doesn’t hurt to take a peek at the owner’s manual for your washer and dryer. It might not me the most riveting reading material, but you might learn about some settings or shortcuts that make laundry easier!
I hope this helps! Check out my additional favorite products to keep your wardrobe in tip-top shape! As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions in the comments.