How To Care For Clothes, Because You're Probably Accidentally Ruining Your Wardrobe As We Speak

You may employ a seven-step skincare program to keep your skin glowing or schedule a manicure every eight days to keep your nails pristine, but it's likely you're neglecting another key facet of your appearance: your clothes. Though steaming a dress, ironing a shirt, or blotting a visible stain are considered key components of how to care for your clothes, even the most sartorially minded make basic mistakes with their wardrobe washing. Luckily, laundry titan P&G is taking the confusion out of treating your favorite garments like a precious Hermes Birkin with research from P&G Fabric Care and revamped products from Tide and Downy.

Unless you're a 12-year-old boy, laundry isn't a mysterious and complicated art, but according to studies by P&G FiberSCIENCE authorities, even experienced launderers make significant errors in the process. And when the cost of such a mistake could be fatal to your beloved first date dress or perfect-fit jeans, learning the correct technique is worth the effort. According to a 2014 FiberSCIENCE study of 2,137 Americans, $550 worth of clothing is left hanging unworn in the average woman's closet, and the deterioration of said clothing is one major contributor to the phenomenon.

But what are these rudimentary mistakes which everybody makes in laundering their clothing, and how can they be fixed? The scientists behind P&G FiberSCIENCE suggest that maintaining a pristine wardrobe and keeping washing woes at bay is as simple as three steps: cleaning, protecting, and enhancing clothing. In simpler terms, you should tend to your clothing as you would your skin.  Read on for five ways you're accidentally damaging your clothes — and how to handle your laundry like an adult, with a little help from Tide.

1. Washing With The Wrong Amount Of Detergent

High efficiency (HE) washing machines are meant to expedite laundry days and utilize less resources to do so. They are not, however, designed to make two loads of clothing spotless with only a teaspoon of detergent. If you're hoping to remove city grit from your wares, skimping on detergent is simply not the answer, especially when new HE washers can hold four times the amount of clothing — and therefore 40 percent more grime. If you’re using a HE machine, look for detergent made specially to work with them, like Tide HE Turbo (which has precise measurement ticks to help you pour the exact right amount) and Tide’s 4-in-1 Pods (which come in handy little pre-measured portions).

2. Treating All Fabrics Equally

An egalitarian mindset may be a commendable way to approach many areas of your life, but clothing care isn't one of them. In the same way you would (hopefully) separate your white clothes from red, you should also treat cotton differently from silk or wool. 

3. Selecting A Detergent With Harsh Ingredients

You wouldn't wash your Ferrari with bleach, so why would you attack an comparable wardrobe investment with something equally abrasive? The best detergents are ruthless when it comes to removing oils from your skin and grime from the outside world, but gentle on the fibers that hold your clothing together. Look for a detergent with conditioning ingredients and fiber lubricants — like Tide’s FiberSCIENCE technology — to make sure that that your clothes don't leave the wash looking worse for wear, or sporting pulled threads and pills. 

4. Allowing Faint Stains To Go Untreated 

You may be lackadaisical when it comes to cooking for yourself every night or hitting the gym as consistently as you wish to, but attending to stains isn't a time for negligence. Certain food, drinks, or other splattering substances can wreak havoc on garments the longer they sit, so take care of your stains as soon as they happen. Spritz stains with a spot treatment before you wash, and pick a detergent with surfactants — like the aforementioned 4-in-1 pods — to clear away stains and particles of grime that may be invisible to the naked eye but could easily tarnish your favorite pieces over time if left untreated.

5. Skipping A Wash Simply Because Your Clothing Looks Clean

Unless you happen to own a microscope or possess the key to a laboratory, your naked eye simply can't comprehend the cleanliness or grime of an article of clothing. Over the course of an average day, your body may produce sweat to regulate temperature, your skin will create oil for moisture and to create a barrier against external conditions, and you're exposed to the dirt and soil of the outside world. Much of this potent cocktail is deposited on your clothes even if you can't spot any aesthetic difference. If you simply place your item back on its shelf or hanger until its next use, all of the contaminants which were deposited have time to slowly saturate the fabric, as with a surface stain, causing the fabric fibers to adopt a darkened tone and weaken. Such untreated grime ultimately produces a "Grey Veil" a term P&G's FiberSCIENCE specialists dubbed to describe the dimming of a garment's color over time due to stains and dirt. Treat your clothing like the financial investment it is, and assume that your garments are in need of care after each wear. 

Images: LoloStock/Fotolia; Giphy; Vox Efx/Flickr

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