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Taking care of your clothes

Published by Sarah Horrocks
Published on 6 November 2007

If you don't look after your clothes properly, they soon wear out and lose their shape and colour. Here are twenty top tips to help prolong the life of your favourite clothes.

Washing
- Follow your washing machine instructions and the washing instructions on clothing care labels.

- Stick to the temperature recommended by the manufacturer. If your clothes are really dirty, don't just increase the temperature of your wash: use stain remover.

- Don’t mix dark and light colours.

- Wash brand new coloured garments on their own the very first time.

- Always check the pockets of your clothes are empty before you put them in the washing machine and close Velcro fastenings.

- Don’t overload your machine: it encourages creases and makes for extra ironing!

- Turn coloured clothes, sweaters, jeans and tops with motifs inside out before putting them in the machine.

- To find out if stain remover will make the colour of a garment fade, test by pouring a tiny amount of remover onto a damp, hidden part of the garment, sandwiching it between two white sheets and then ironing on a hot setting. If no marks appear, the colour won’t fade.

- Protect your underwear, tights and stockings by putting them in a pillowcase in the washing machine.

- Don’t use too much washing powder or liquid. It won’t wash any better and the excess can end up clogged in your clothes.

Drying
- Tumble dry your clothes gently (eg at 800, which is less aggressive on your clothes than higher spin cycles).

- When handwashing, dry your washing in a bath towel to prevent it from twisting in all directions.

- Don’t leave your washing in the dryer to crease. As soon as it’s done, take it out.
- Natural drying is better than tumble drying. Wool and cotton garments should be air-dried flat to prevent them shrinking.

- Don’t expose drying washing to direct sunlight: it can make colours fade. Use good coat hangers, preferably wooden ones which won’t rust.

- Iron your clothes inside out to preserve their colour and avoid 'iron shine.'

- Stick to the recommended temperature on the care label when ironing and avoid using steam when ironing at a low temperature (110°C).

- Fold trousers and jeans along the crease and not the hem.

Eco-friendly tips

- Use non-phosphate washing products with over 90% biodegradable surfactant agents.

- Tumble-dryers use lots of energy. Dry your washing naturally as far as you can.

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