One of the challenges with sample clothing is that the garment isn’t required to be labeled with either fabric content or care instructions (because they are samples). This lack of information can be very frustrating. Not only do you want to protect your investment, you want to make sure that your favorite shirt isn’t going to be ruined if you wash it. The good news is that most of the clothing manufactured today is made from a “blend” of different fibers and can be washed. Once you are familiar with the fabric blends, it’s easy to know how to take care of your favorites. Plus, I really don’t like anything about dry cleaning: the chemicals, the expense and the time commitment. (Although most wool, leather, chiffon, satin, acetate and velvet need to be dry cleaned.) Cashmere and wool sweaters can be washed. It is a learning experience to recognize the different clothing fibers and practice a washing method that doesn’t damage your clothes.
First: If the garment doesn’t have care instructions, wad it up into a ball. Does it wrinkle? Is it stretchy? Look at the fibers- are they tightly woven? If the garment doesn’t wrinkle, has stretch and is woven tightly, it can be washed.
Second: Does it look to have any nylon or spandex? Those fibers are often combined with cotton, rayon & polyester and make the garment washable. 100% cotton, denim & linen can be washed.
Third: Be wary of 100% rayon (100% rayon will wrinkle when when waded up and looks flimsy) Often the garment will fade, tear or shrink when washed. Today, most rayon is combined with other fibers and can be safely washed. Modal, Viscose, Lyocell are all “cousins” of rayon and can be safely laundered. Rayon and it’s derivatives are made from wood pulp or wood cellulose and treated with chemicals to become a fiber. Many manufacturers use this form of rayon because the garment wears well, doesn’t wrinkle and holds the dye.
Fourth: What to do when the garment tag says dry clean, but you are pretty sure it can be washed. Test a small amount of fabric to see how it responds to water and soap. Manufacturers often place the most care restrictive tag on a garment because they don’t want the responsibility of a damaged garment. If the sample test is fine, wash the garment by hand (or gentle cycle) in cold water.
Fifth: Here goes:
Sixth: Ironing or pressing:
We recently had a problem when a client ruined her skirt by pressing it with too hot of an iron. When you need to touch up garment made of synthetic fibers (all of the pull on pants) use a pressing cloth. These can be purchased or you can use a thin piece of dampened cotton to do the job. The pressing cloth will prevent melting and scorching. A good steam iron or steamer will help you keep your clothing fresh. Always test the heat of your iron before putting it on the fabric.