When it comes to doing laundry… there is a lot on the line. We continuously throw our most beloved garments into the spinning wheel of fate. Loads of things might go wrong if we are not well informed on which types of fabric can be taken for a ride. This article aims to clear your doubts around the most popular fibers, so you can care for your favorite clothes and extend their life. Read along and do not throw in the towel!
This natural material is the most popular fabric in the world thanks to its accessible price, durability and easy manufacturing. It makes up a quarter of all fabric used in clothing and textiles. Found in sheets, clothes, shoes and accessories, it is absorbent and strong. You can wash white cottons in hot water and colors in warm or cool water, and you can safely iron the wrinkles out. Just remember that they usually shrink 5 to 10% during the first wash and it may happen again if over-dried.
The negative side of cotton is its mass production. The world’s favorite natural fiber is extremely wasteful and polluting. Regular cotton farming ruins biodiversity and soil fertility. It is advisable to choose organic cotton, which tends to use water from rainfalls and eradicates pesticides.
Denim is generally made from rugged, sturdy, twill weave woven cotton. There are conflicting opinions regarding the recommended frequency in which to wash jeans. Some people suggest they should never be washed at all. The truth is that dirty jeans will develop holes and rips much quicker. As denim is a tough fabric, there is no need to wash after every use. But surely they can be thrown into the washing machine every once in a while, for a cold water clean.
Leather is hard-wearing, tough and, above all, super classy. It is used in clothing as well as accessories such as bags, belts and shoes. A good quality leather garment never goes out of style, thus it is worth looking after it. Although durable and flexible, leather is vulnerable to dirt and dehydration. The agitation of a washing machine can cause leather to crack while water and detergent can ruin its finishing. Instead, wipe the leather with mild soap and warm water, then remove the film of soap with a clean cloth ensuring no residue is left to avoid it to dry out. Finally, let the item air dry but do not expose it to sunlight. Once or twice a year, you can use leather conditioner to restore its texture and extend its life, or take it to a professional for a conditioning routine.
As leather is made from the hide or skin of animals, it is linked to one of the most polluting industries in the world. Its environmental impact is a good reason for you to care for your leather apparel and make it last.
Wool is a natural textile fiber obtained from shearing off sheep. It is wrinkle and stain resistant, tough and durable. It absorbs moisture without feeling damp and it acts as an insulator making for great warm clothes. Wool garments should not be washed after every use, though it is advisable to air them out before putting away. Most wool fabrics are machine washable using Delicate or Wool cycles, and a gentle detergent.
Although wool micro-fibers are biodegradable, the industry produces a big carbon footprint. On the other hand, wool is more environmentally-friendly than polyester, a synthetic fabric also used in winter apparel. For those concerned with the impact of sheep farming, there is a more sustainable fabric alternative: linen.
Linen is a natural bast fiber made from a renewable resource: the flax plant. Biodegradable (when left undyed or naturally dyed) and recyclable, it uses the plant to its entirety, thus reducing waste from the outset. Linen is one of the most durable fabrics. It is breathable, durable, lightweight, absorbent, antimicrobial, naturally moth-resistant; it even partly protects from solar radiation. It becomes softer with use and, although some labels insist on dry cleaning only, it can be dropped into the washing machine. Use the Delicate cycle with cold water and keep in mind that linen absorbs more water than other fabrics, making it necessary to leave some extra room for it. It does wrinkle a lot – turn the garment inside out and use a hot iron with a steam setting to restore its crispness.
One of the most beautiful and luxurious fabrics, silk is a natural fiber obtained from silkworm cocoons. Thin and flexible, it has a high moisture absorbency rate, is resistant to abrasion and retains its shape well. Still, silk fibers are extremely delicate and prone to fading. If the label suggests dry clean only or if the silk is dark and bright colored, you should probably take it to the cleaners. Otherwise, you can perform a color fastness test by dabbing an inconspicuous area of the garment with a damp clean cloth. If the color does not bleed, you can wash your silk garment with a mild shampoo or detergent in a gentle wash cycle. Let silk air dry and never toss in the drier or hang in the sun (this accelerates fading).
Polyester is the most used fabric for apparel and textile in the world because it is durable, flexible, inexpensive and wrinkle resistant. It is a synthetic fabric manufactured from crude oil. Quality polyester garments hold their shape well, but are not as breathable as other fabrics. They are generally washer friendly, ideally with a warm cycle. Polyester dries extremely quickly but if you use the drier, make sure you choose a low heat setting.
Polyester is responsible for global plastic waste and microfiber pollution. Recycled polyester, often manufactured from PET bottles, post-industrial polyester waste or used clothing, is a more eco-friendly alternative over virgin polyester. Still, it will eventually have the same environmental repercussions when it comes time for disposal. For that reason, you should care for your polyester garments to extend their life.
Now that you know how to care for some of your favorite garments, all you need is a good washer. Bring your load to Sudz on Mound and trust that our machines will do the hard work for you. Your most fashionable outfits will shine like new.