It's an all too familiar story: You've thrown your favorite top in the washer, only to pull it out shrunken, discolored, or covered in lint. The thing is, even good quality clothes won't last long if you don't know how to properly clean or care for its fabric. Below, we listed the most common fabrics your clothes are made of and how to properly maintain them. Read on!
Cotton - Hot water wash, tumble dry
Your basic tees and most of your clothes are usually made of cotton. They're comfortable but they're also prone to shrinking. Just remember to wash your whites in hot water to avoid shrinking. Meanwhile, wash your colored ones in cold water to preserve the color. Don't over dry it in high heat as well as this will encourage shrinking.
Silk - Hand wash, air dry
This natural fiber may be strong but it's also very delicate. Never throw them in the washer; instead, have them dry cleaned or hand washed using only mild detergents to clean the natural protein and revitalize the fiber. To dry silk garments, you can roll the item in a towel to squeeze out the moisture and then hang to dry.
Denim - Cold wash, air dry
Believe it or not, denim is actually made from cotton, only woven into a harder material. To properly wash your jeans, turn them inside out before putting them into the washing machine. This will help preserve the color. You can also hand wash your jeans to avoid machine agitation that will make your jeans more prone to breaking. To do this, soak your jeans in a mixture of cold water and a small amount of mild detergent for about half an hour before rinsing. Don't wring out your jeans as this will twist and break down the fibers. Instead, press out the excess water and then hang it to dry.
Suede - Lukewarm water on a gentle cycle, flat dry
Suede can be cleaned at home, but be sure to read the tag for specific requirements per article of clothing as this method works only on most suede garments. In the washer, put it in a gentle cycle and stop it before the spin cycle. Press out the excess water, dry flat, and gently brush it to maintain the softness of the fabric. If you want better control when cleaning, hand wash the garment and rinse until the water runs clean. Never throw your suede in the dryer!
Leather - Warm water, press dry
You don't need to spend a lot when having your leather clothes dry cleaned. Just remember to immediately wipe off anything that has spilled onto it, as leather fabrics are prorous and will absorb the stain immediately. That said, if you need further cleaning, don't use any ammonia or bleach-based cleaners. These will cause the leather to dry and eventually crack. Instead, you can mix a solution of warm water and dish soap, dip a soft cloth into it and spot clean the leather garment. Use a second clean cloth to dry it.
Polyester - Cool water wash, tumble dry warm or air dry
Polyester fabrics may be machine-washed using warm water. Tumble dry the garments on low heat and remove from the dryer while they're still slightly damp to prevent wrinkles and to avoid a static buildup. If you want to iron it, make sure to keep it in a low heat setting. Polyester can melt in high temperatures.
Cashmere - Lukewarm water, air dry
Cashmere is made from wool and since many wool garments cannot be washed, they're recommended to be dry cleaned instead unless the care tag specifically allows washing. If washable, use a gentle detergent and hand wash it in lukewarm water. Cold temperature will shrink the garment. Never toss it in the dryer as well. Just press out the excess moisture and lay flat to dry.
Nylon - Warm water wash, tumble dry warm
Synthetic materials are usually machine-washable and can be washed in warm or cold water (cold is recommended for white fabrics). Tumble dry in low heat setting to prevent wrinkling.
Linen - Cool water wash, air dry
Linen is derived from the flax plant and is known for its ability to keep you cool in hot weather. Like cotton, it's washing machine-friendly, but use only chlorine-free bleach. It also absorbs more water during the washing process so avoid overcrowding in the washer and dryer (set on medium heat). Iron linen from the inside out, using steam on a hot iron setting.
Spandex - Cool water wash, air dry
Spandex is a beloved fabric by atheletes and beach bums as it's stretchy and comfortable. But it's also very sensitive to heat. So when you need to wash spandex garments, be sure to hand or machine-wash them in cold water using mild detergents only. Avoid machine drying because machine agitation will break down the fabric. Instead, just hang it to dry.
Sequined/Beaded - Hand wash, air dry
If spot cleaning isn't enough to remove the stains on embellished garments, it is best to hand wash the clothes in cool water mixed with mild detergent. If the label says they're machine washable, be sure to set it on a gentle cycle and to put the clothes in a mesh laundry bag to protect the beads or sequins that may be loosened in the machine.
When drying, allow the embellished garment to air dry. Drying it in high heat can dull the finish, melt decorations, or loosen the glue. If the garment needs ironing, press it inside out using the lowest iron temperature available. You can also use a steamer set on low heat.