Laundry mishaps are a nuisance and sometimes, an expensive one too. Following the care instructions on labels is how such disasters are prevented, provided one knows what those funny symbols mean.
Deciphering the care label
Truth be told, clothes do require some good TLC. The more they get, the better they look and feel. In addition to caring for them while worn, retaining their original quality is also a matter of proper maintenance. Always wash your clothes inside out and fasten any zips. The table below provides a summary of the main washing instructions frequently found on the labels on the inside of a shirt, sweater, etc.
There’s also the GINETEX guide to textile care labels (the textile care label bible), available here.
Preserving your clothes’ colours
In addition to following the care instructions on the label, colour absorbers and whiteners help preserve clothes’ original colours. Colour absorbers are ideal for use when washing different colours in the same cycle. These are sheets which, as the name suggests, absorb colour spills, preventing them from being absorbed by the other garments washed in the same cycle.
Whiteners are for use when washing whites, which after frequent washing tend to turn into a sad shade of grey. Whiteners restore a garment’s original white, keeping it looking new.
There are also washing detergents that contain specific colouring for dark colours. These function like whiteners but instead, serve to preserve a garment’s dark colour, preventing it from fading after washing.
Preserving the fabrics’ texture
On the other hand, fabric softeners do more damage to clothes than good. First of all, which respectable man wants to smell of lavender or purple blossom? Secondly, due to the amount of toxins present, these can really damage your clothes and your health. They should certainly not be used when washing towels, sportswear, and flame-retarding clothes, such as kidswear. Finally, unless your clothes are really dirty, there’s no need to use high heat. Keeping the heat low not only saves on your energy bill but also better preserves the texture of the fabrics.
Ultimately, part of what makes the clothes we buy a good investment is their durability. Preserving their original quality for as long as possible will save you the expense of having to keep replacing items frequently, instead, spending money on diversifying your wardrobe.