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How to Properly Wash and Care for Your Clothes

After years of buying clothes through consignment or second hand, Donna has developed ways to care for clothes and keep them looking good.

How to Properly Wash and Care for Your Clothes

How to Properly Wash and Care for Your Clothes

With the cost of everything from goods to services to the price of gasoline rising, everyone is looking for ways to save money. One simple way is to take good care of your clothes. This will help to extend their life, cut down on dry cleaning costs, and keep clothes looking great!

I often buy my clothes at sales, consignment shops, or second hand. I've found many ways to take care of these items so they look clean and well-maintained. See my list of simple tips and suggestions below.

Don't overstuff your washer!

Don't overstuff your washer!

Washing Your Clothes

  1. Read the instructions and recommended load size for your washer. Don't over stuff your washer! It can damage the washer and your clothes. You should leave about four inches clear at the top of the washer tub.
  2. Read and follow the care instructions for all your clothing items. Never remove the care labels from your clothes. You may need to remind yourself how to wash an item. Also, some resale shops and websites will not take items for sale if they are missing their care labels.
  3. Generally speaking, wash and rinse your clothes in cold water, unless someone in your household is sick or has particular needs.
  4. Wash your jeans and pants inside out. This will avoid fading.
  5. Wash any white items with other light colored clothing to keep them white and avoid any color transfer.
  6. Wash any shirts inside out which have pit stains or marks inside. This will help wash out any deodorant.
Use a small laundry bag for washing delicate items.

Use a small laundry bag for washing delicate items.

7. Use a laundry bag for washing delicate items, like those made of thin material, with decoration on them, or with ties that can get wrapped around other items in the wash. A delicates bag can also keep the hooks from bras getting caught on other items and the straps from getting stretched out.

8. Keep in mind, clothing doesn't need to be washed every time you wear it unless you sweat in it or get it dirty. Of course, underwear should be washed after every wear.

9. However, you should wash stained clothes as soon as possible. Do not let stains set on your clothes.

10. If you don't have any spot treatment for grease or food stains, you can use liquid dish detergent. Put some on your stain, gently rub it in, then wash the item in the laundry as usual. It may take a few washings to get the stain out completely.

11. Likewise, don't let dirty or sweaty exercise clothes sit too long before washing.

12. Occasionally add Borax or baking soda when your wash your sports or exercise clothing. This will keep them from smelling.

Hand wash items with beading, sequins, special shaping, or when the care label suggests it.

Hand wash items with beading, sequins, special shaping, or when the care label suggests it.

Hand Washing

13. Hand wash any clothing items with beading, embellishments, special shaping, or when the care label suggests it.

To hand wash clothes:

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  • Pour a capful of a gentle detergent like Woolite in to a dish basin.
  • Fill dish basin with cold water and use your hand to swish water so soap begins to bubble.
  • Turn your clothing item inside out and put it in the water.
  • Swish it around in the water for a few minutes. You can let it sit if it needs to.
  • Take your items out and pour out the soapy water.
  • Rinse your basin and refill it with cold clean water.
  • Rinse your item thoroughly in basin.
  • When your item is rinsed, take it out and squeeze it to drain excess water. Do not wring or twist your clothing.

14. Hand wash most knitted items like sweaters. Then dry flat. To dry clothing flat:

  • Use a flat drying rack (available at big box department stores). You can also use a spongy surface like a yoga mat or a child's play surface.
  • Cover these surfaces with two folded towels (see photo above).
  • Place your wet item on the towels and shape to dry. Do not pull on the length or width of the item (especially at the hem). This will stretch out the material.

Drying Your Clothes

15. Hang your jeans and pants to dry - do not put in a dryer. Turn your pants right side out, shake out the wrinkles, and smooth pockets before drying.

16. Hang your spandex, nylon, or knit exercise clothes for drying. They may shrink if you put them in the dryer.

17. When hanging items to dry, use plastic hangers. Metal hangers can leave marks on your clothes.

18. If hanging your clothes outside on a line, make sure the line is clean with no mildew or mold marks. These marks can stain your clothes.

Ironing Your Clothes

19. Do not iron over a stain or spot. The heat from the iron will set the stain and make it permanent.

20. Iron clothes only as needed. The heat can fade colors and wear thin material.

21. It's best to iron clothes before putting them away. This will save you time when you go to wear them.


22. Dry clean any items with care labels that say "dry clean only."

23. Avoid taking your clothes to the dry cleaners by being careful when you wear them and changing out of them as soon as possible.

Storing Your Clothes

24. Do not hang sweaters. They will stretch out from the weight of the fabric. Instead, fold them and store them in a drawer.

25. Put cedar blocks in closets and drawers with wool items. The cedar blocks will keep away moths that can eat wool and create holes. Replace the cedar blocks once a year.

One More Tip

Learn how to sew on a button and do simple mending repairs. You can find how-to videos for these skills online. Missing buttons and tears make your clothes look worn and shabby!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Donna Herron

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