Whilst I appreciate that clothing care isn’t the sexiest of topics, it’s a necessary one and if like me you own countless black silk shirts, then it’s only right that I share how I don’t end up buying shares in my local dry cleaners. Given that I’m all about the "less is more" capsule wardrobe thing on The Anna Edit, I like to take care of my clothes so that they last a really long time and don’t end up shrunk after just one wash (been there, done that, attempted and failed to style out the snug sweater look). I’ve split this down into cashmere/wool, silk, denim and other miscellaneous items so this should be easy to navigate if you want to hone in on just the one category, or if you fancy an education in detergents and washing cycles then read on.
Cottons and Everyday Items
- I split my clothing into two piles: one for lights and one for darks, and then wash each load with non-bio detergent, a slug of fabric softener (although avoid this step if you’re washing activewear as it leaves behind a residue on lycra that can attract bacteria) and stick it on a 30°C quick-wash.
- Go for the fast setting because it only takes one hour instead of three so means you can get all the dark washing done in an evening, plus it’s better for your water bill and the environment.
- When it’s done avoid the tumble drier, unless it’s for bedding, as it’s really aggressive on your clothing and can shorten their life-span. Instead, hang them up on a line or clothes horse, and give them a blast with the dehumidifier if the processes needs a bit of help.
Wool and Cashmere
- Invest in a few plain, thin t-shirts that can easily be worn under cashmere jumpers and chunky knits without adding too much heat, so that you just have to wash cotton t-shirts instead of having to wash wool and cashmere all the time. LIFE. CHANGING.
- If you’ve sweated a tonne, been somewhere smoky or the jumper cost you an amount that you never want your mum to find out, then take it to the dry cleaners - don’t risk it!
- If the jumper hasn’t grown legs yet, but was still a hefty investment, go down the cold hand wash at home route, using a cashmere-specific detergent and making sure you dry the garment flat and without too much pulling or tugging.
- I’d also recommend picking up a cashmere comb, which is perhaps the most relaxing thing to use ever. You know how a pumice gets rid of dry skin on your feet? This basically does the same over any pilling fabrics, and it’s so darn handy.
- Once washed, store cashmere and wool items folded and never hung as they are prone to stretching due to their delicate nature and weight.
- Check the laundry instructions, but if it says that it’s dry clean only and the texture of the silk is brushed in a way that creates a sheen in the fabric which changes direction when you wipe your hand over it, then leave it to the professionals.
- Silk shirts that don’t fit that criteria I put in the washing machine on a cool, short wash for delicates. I let them air-dry (silk should never be tumble dried), before giving them a once-over with a clothing steamer that makes me feel like a Vogue intern and leaves them looking brand new.
- I suggest washing denim in with your normal loads, but do make sure they’re always turned inside out before you sling ’em in.
- Try to wash denim as infrequently as you can get away with, as it will hopefully prolong their shape and wash.
- Only if a dry-clean-only piece falls into one of the three previous categories and doesn’t seem too delicate, then sometimes I’ll suggest down the hand-wash route. Test it with water on a small patch.
- If you’ve only worn the item for a short period of time and it’s still pretty fresh, I find that a once-over with the clothing steamer does the trick of freshening the garment if you’re in a pinch.
Anna Newton (AKA @theannaedit) is the author of An Edited Life, published by Quadrille, 10 January.