Adam here. This is a guest article from our friend Nicolas of Kinowear.
Just so you know, from our own experiences, we’ve come to find that the internet is full of contradictory laundry care advice. While one article or commenter will swear by one method, the next will swear by the opposite.
What works for some simply doesn’t work for others.
With that in mind, we will be chiming in with our own methods throughout this post in green, just to illustrate the variety—don’t blame Nicolas if our tips don’t pan out!
We all know that high-end clothes are a sweet investment, but that investment will soon turn sour if you don’t practice proper clothing care.
Looking after your clothes doesn’t have to involve endless worry over confusing instructions or washing machines with a mind of their own. We’ll go through each item in your closet and give you some vital tips for making them last.
We’ll start with a quick word on the cheaper stuff. When you buy low end, ready-to-wear clothing there should be some enormous warning stating that they will not last unless you take care of them; the materials are not as high quality so it’s only natural that they’ll be less resilient.
Taking care of them might not make them last as long as high-end clothing, but by following a few simple tips you can really get the most out of these fragile pieces.
First, always put clothing on a hanger or folded nicely, rather than leaving it in a crumpled-up heap. Finally, with ready-to-wear, it’s a fairly safe bet to follow the care instructions, but don’t forget to pay close attention!
(Editor’s Note: Laundry care symbols can be tricky as all get-out to decode. Here’s a link to a guide for quick reference. It never hurts to print out a copy to keep nearby.)
Caring For Your Shirts
If you’ve invested in a high-end shirt, it can be daunting to just shove it in the washing machine, but that’s exactly what you should do!
Nobody wants to spend their time hand-washing something when a machine does a better job…though this isn’t to say that you can leave it on any old setting.
Always wash them on a warm setup without too much detergent, nor a spin setting that’s too intense. If your machine has a delicate setting and you’re really worried about a shirt, feel free to use it.
While it’s fine to use the machine for washing your shirts, never use the machine to dry. Instead, opt for hang-drying in order to avoid the brutal wear-and-tear a dryer causes. After you’ve let your shirt hang dry it’s vital that you iron it – there’s no point in wearing a clean shirt if the creases in it make it look like you can’t be bothered to take pride in your appearance.
In order to make the ironing easier, only hang dry until damp, at which point I iron out the rest of the moisture.
(Editor’s Note: My personal practices with dress shirts are almost the exact same, except I use cold water to wash, and only hang dry until damp, at which point I iron out the rest of the moisture.
If I know I’m in a crunch and need a shirt ASAP, sometimes I will dry my more rugged shirts – flannels, OCBD’s and the like. I will also occasionally dry a dress shirt just once if it’s running a bit large in the neck or waist in hopes of getting just the right amount of shrinkage – a risky move that has actually panned out for me 99% of the time – but try this at your own risk!)
Caring For Your T-shirts
A decent tee will be absolutely fine in the washing machine on a warm to hot setup (but don’t wash it at the maximum heat, there is no need to boil it). Once again, avoid the dryer and you’ll be good to go!
If we’re talking about a super high-end T-shirt, please feel free to use the delicate setting or even wash them by hand if you’re really worried. Once they’ve dried on the line, give them an iron (surely tees are one of the easier things to iron!) and you’re done. It’s as easy as that.
(Editor’s Note: T-shirts are actually the only thing besides socks and underwear that I will use the machine to dry. You have to be a little careful of initial shrinking [maybe don’t dry on the first wash], but in my experiences, I haven’t had any problems beyond that. Additionally, if you fold the laundry while still warm, I’ve found that I don’t need to iron at all.)
Caring For Your Knitwear
The thought of washing knitwear strikes fear in the hearts of many, no matter how long you’ve been washing your own clothes! Since there are a variety of different materials used, it can be tricky to give advice that will suffice for them all, so we’ll go through a few step by step.
- Cotton: This is pretty simple as a delicate or cotton setting will work and your cotton sweater will stay good as new.
- Wool: It’s not too much harder and the washing machine will still be fine, but go out there and get a mesh washing bag to stop it rubbing against the inside of the machine. Hand-washing is slightly better, provided you keep the temperature of the water fairly low.
- Cashmere: Ultimately, it’s tricky because it’s all about how high-quality the cashmere is, but no matter what ,you should always hand wash cashmere. It doesn’t matter what the label might say, you need some tepid water and a bit of detergent for the best results. Give it a good rub and then leave it to soak for around 10 minutes.
One final thing to remember about wool and cashmere is they aren’t like cotton and they won’t soak up all the dirt and grime of daily living – you do not need to wash them every week.
(Editor’s Note: I have screwed up so many sweaters in the wash that I take a super-cautious approach. I never put any of my sweaters in the machine, instead opting for a hand-wash. Most of my sweaters are wool, so I use Woolite detergent. I’ve also heard people recommend hair shampoo with a little bit of conditioner for a softer finish. After washing, I roll the sweater in a towel to soak up excess liquid, and then lay-dry.)
Caring For Your Jackets, Blazers and Suits
In terms of jackets, you really want to leave them on clothes hangers so that they keep their shape – there’s nothing worse than a warped blazer, especially if it fit you great when you first bought it.
When it comes to washing, this is a completely non-negotiable point: you must take them to the dry cleaners!
However, don’t kid yourself that they’re going to treat your delicate clothing with care and pop in once a week. It’s vital to find a reliable dry cleaner, and then frequent it just two or three times a year, and no more.
“But what about hygiene?!” I hear you cry. Just remember that a suit jacket isn’t worn directly on the skin and the shirt you’re perspiring on is something you change every day anyway. You don’t wash your coats every week. This is the same idea.
(Editor’s Note: The only thing I would add here is the magic of a good steaming. For a wool suit, a quick steam will relax the fibers, smoothing out any wrinkles and restoring the jacket to it’s natural shape. If you’re in a pinch, just hang your suit in the bathroom and turn the hot water on in the shower for a good 15 minutes or so, and you’ll be good to go.)
Caring For Your Denim
We frequently sing the praises of raw denim without really considering how to look after them, and that’s because it’s often a battlefield among denim enthusiasts. However, there are two different methods you can use, depending on your passion for your jeans, and whilst they might take a fair bit of time, I’ve tried them myself and have found them to be totally worth it.
Above all, don’t be tempted to go for the washing machine! Instead, either:
- Wash with detergent: To do this, you need to fill up your bathtub with water. Not too hot and not too cold (around 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 30 degrees C). Use a capful of detergent—one that’s specifically for dark fabric—and pour it in the water. Submerge your jeans, inside out, and leave them for 20 minutes. Make sure you give them a good rinse when you’re done, and then let them air dry.
- Wash naturally: Similar instructions, but this time start with hot water in the bath and about 12oz. of salt in place of the detergent. Let the water cool until it’s tepid and then soak, leave and rinse as before.
A quick note on washing high-end jeans: don’t risk it, take them to the dry cleaners!
(Editor’s Note: MY OPINION – I’m not a denim head and don’t own any selvedge or high-end raw denim. That said, I wash both my raw Levi’s and washed Gap 1969 jeans in the washer – inside out with cold water – and then hang dry. I do try to wash them as infrequently as possible. A trick I’ve picked up to keep them fresh, bacteria-free and smell-free is to throw them in the freezer once a week instead of a full wash.)
There we have it, some handy hints for keeping your clothing in pristine condition! It can be tricky, but follow these instructions and your hard work and perseverance will surely pay off.
Are these tips helpful? Like we mentioned in the disclaimer at the beginning of the article, everyone has different experiences as far as what works best.
Do you agree or disagree with what you’ve read here? What have you learned through trial and error about works best for your clothes? Tell us in the comments section below!
Learn a few shortcuts to dressing well
Enter your first name and email, and I'll send you a free eGuide with quick and easy tips you can use today.