The knowledge of how to look after your garments and how to care for them is decreasing. Most customers want their garments to be easily washed in the washing machine and non-ironed. With that approach it can be hard to dress well.
Below you will find some great tips on how to look after your garments in the best way.
When should you wash your garments?
Garments that you wear close to your body, such as underwear and socks, I recommended to be washed after one day’s use, especially the garments worn below your waist. If you are lucky, you will be accustomed with your own odour and know when it’s time to put your garments in the wash. We are all different, especially when it comes to body odour. Some people do not have an odour at all and others develop a distinctive one rather quickly. It can be tricky to tell someone if they have a strong odour, especially if they can’t smell it themselves. But wouldn’t your rather have someone tell you than unknowingly walking around with an unwanted odour? Perhaps mentioning it discreetly could be appreciated.
To find out if your garments need a wash or I they require freshening up, follow the next few steps:
- Your nose is your best weapon in the fight to defeat bad odour
- Smell the armpits and crotch of your garment before use
- Check the collar and cuffs, any stains?
- Remove small stains by hand if the rest of the garment isn’t yet in need of a wash
- Air all your wool garments – wool is a fantastic material that “cleans itself” during airing
- Most of your garments will benefit from being aired on a regular basis and a lot of odours disappear
- Use a brush to gently remove shallow stains on your woven wool garments
- Vintage garments should always be aired or dry-cleaned
- Use a damp cloth to go over the armpits with a small amount of acetum mixed with water to remove bad odours
If you are a pet owner, a garment brush, lint roller or velvet brush is a practical item to keep in your hallway.
My washing kit
- Washing liquid: Use liquid instead of powder which can leave white grains on the garments
- Fabric softener
- Liquid bile soap / gall soap is a natural product to remove stains
- Washing liquid for wool fabrics
- Uncoloured shampoo for silk
- Stain removal spray
- Washing bags
- Plastic gloves
Before and during washing
- Look at the label for the washing instructions, the label states the highest temperature that the garment can be washed in. This doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be. A rule of thumb is: the lower the temperature the longer the garments will last (this does not apply to underwear, socks and sportswear)
- Divide your garments into colours
- Don’t overuse the amount of washing liquid. Look up what type of water you have and follow the instructions on the bottle
- If you mix colours, make sure that they have been washed before and that they don’t bleed colour, this can stain other garments. Use dark and light colours separately
- Pre-wash all dark clothes before using them for the first time to avoid the discolouring other lighter garments
- If you are uncertain of the temperature, wash the garments in 30 degrees
- Sportswear, socks and underwear in cotton should always be washed in 60 degrees to get rid of all the bacteria
- Wool and cashmere can be washed in a wool/hand wash program in 30 degrees
- Fabric softener
- Hang most of your garments on a hanger, this way you want have to iron as often. Wool jumpers should always dry flat to avoid stretching the fibers
Hand wash – a more time consuming method
I only hand wash hand knitted garments, hand embroidered garments, silk and some old garments that can’t be washed in the washing machine.
- When you wash by hand, always use washing up liquid for delicate fabrics
- Hand-knitted garments need to be washed twice and rinsed three times
- Silk should be washed with uncoloured shampoo or with a specific washing up liquid for silk fabrics to avoid the fabric losing its softness
- Use a low temperature when hand washing, lukewarm if possible
- Wool garments should be placed on a towel, folded in and rolled to get all the access water out of the garment. Lay it to dry on a flat surface, preferably on a dry towel on the clothes-horse and make sure to place it in a natural position to avoid it being molded into a different shape
- Silk garments should be hung on a hanger, preferably an inflated one or one that is wider over the shoulders
If you are unlucky you may have some stains on your garments that are tricky to get rid of. There are many ways to get rid of stains but some of the really difficult ones you may have to try a few different ways with caution. Start by testing your chosen stain removal method on an area that is less visible, in case it will stain the fabric further.
- On highly sensitive silk garments, using a silk napkin is a marvelous trick, these are usually used to clean ties but works as well on ladies wear
- Blood stains can be tricky but the best way is to use your own saliva
- Chewing gum can be removed by putting the garment in the freezer until it is easy to scrape off. Use methylated spirits for any small bits that are left and finally bile soap to get rid of any stains left underneath
Red wine stains - A chapter on its own
Red wine stains are tricky, that’s why we don’t serve red wine in our home.
There are a few different ways you can get rid of the red wine stains:
- Pour salt over the stain, let it set and wash as normal
- Poor white wine over the stain, then salt
- Try bleach. Sometimes you have to test all methods since a lot of red wines are packed with colourants, both natural and chemical ones. That’s why it’s always very tricky to know if you will get rid of the stain or not
- Bile soap is often a very successful alternative to try on all kinds of stains, you can buy both liquid and solid bile soap
- A strong washing up liquid such as Fairy liquid, this can work on most stains
- Methylated spirits, acetone and petrol are all products that have been used to remove stains
- If you still can’t get rid of the stains on your favourite garment, perhaps using your imagination and creativity can help. How about adding a decoration, embroidery or a brooch/pin?
After the wash
Usually I am not a big fan of the tumble dryer which makes textiles disintegrate over time. The only things I would tumble dry are cheap socks, my husband’s underwear, dishcloths and towels which does makes me appreciate the washing machine a bit more.
Since I’m not the biggest fan of the tumble dryer, the following tip might sound a bit crazy:
- Cashmere and wool can be tumble dried at the highest temperature for no more than just one minute. This will make the fibers lift and the garment will look great. If possible, hang the garment on an inflated coat hanger in the drying room to make sure it dries completely.
Before trying this secret tip on your favourite jumper, try it on an old jumper to make sure it works as well for you. That’s how I tried it the first time, the idea itself is a bit mad since it goes against all the knowledge I’ve ever been given. Today, I use this trick every time.
By ironing your garment you show it the respect it needs. Most garments become much more beautiful after ironed and an old, tired garment can look as good as new. An ironed garment can reject dirt easier and will hold its shape much longer.
The ironing kit should preferably include:
- A steam iron or a steamer. It is much easier to get rid of wrinkles and folds with the steam
- A steady ironing board
- Starch spray, this will make the collar, cuffs, button stand and lace extra sturdy.
- A towel that can be placed over sensitive garments for protection
- To avoid white bits of limescale coming out of the iron, make sure to clean the iron of limescale before it’s too late, how to clean it should be found in the iron instructions
- A spray bottle with some fresh water might be needed on sturdier garments to get rid of all the creases
To iron well is a form of art
- Iron the garment one day before use, this way the garment can cool down and set for a longer lasting look
- Whilst ironing, why not use the time to also call that friend you haven’t talked to for a while, or watch the news at the same time? This way, ironing becomes a much nicer task
- Some garments are preferably ironed inside out
- Use a lot of steam for your wool garments
- Hang your ironed garments on a coat hanger
- Steel hangers should only be used on gentlemen’s shirts, all other garments can be discoloured
- Valuable and elegant garments should be hung on a shaped hanger that will support the shoulders
- Skirts should be hung with their supporting straps or with the waistband straight on a skirt hanger
- Trousers can be folded and hung over a trouser hanger, or use a clip hanger to hang them from the waistband or from the hem, making them hang upside down
- Knitted garments can either be folded or hung on a padded coat hanger
Delicate garments can sometimes profit from hanging in plastic garment bags. The garment bags can either be bought in a shop or you could ask your local dry cleaner if you can purchase some simple ones from them.
Somehow many people believe dry cleaning to be very expensive, however to iron and starch 10 of your shirts doesn’t have to cost more than 20 Euros, in Sweden. This will help the shirt stay in shape and look clean longer, as long as you don’t accidentally spill red wine, coffee or any other delicious foods over your shirt.
For me, dry cleaning is an excellent alternative for your sensitive garments that thrive with a beautiful finish. I even dry clean certain tablecloths to get a nice, sharp finish, which I find more or less impossible to do myself.
Sometimes the factories can put the dry cleaning symbol in “regular” clothes, which I can understand since we are rather bad at washing our clothes in the right way. Some clothes with a dry cleaning sign can still be washed by hand or on a cold program in the machine, as long as you know what you're doing.