The journey and environmental impact of clothing does not end once purchased. With thoughtful care, not only will your clothes continue to look great, but you can also lessen waste: including waste of water and power. Read our tips on how to win at clothing care.
Know your fabrics
You can find the fabric of your garment on its care label at any one time—plant-based, animal-based, synthetic, blended, organic, and much more. To be able to wear clothes until they are truly worn out, gauge what fabrics you are dealing with and understand the different washing detergents, wash cycles, and drying needs for each garment. Begin to group your fabrics in similar bundles so you can effectively care for them.
Keep your garments’ unique structure in mind when storing in order to maintain the original shape and quality.
- Knitwear: Fold and stack neatly on a shelf or in a drawer. This helps to avoid stretching and sleeve marks often caused by a coat hanger.
- Shirts and blouses: These are best kept hanging in a wardrobe on high quality wooden or suede hangers. This helps the fabric stay fresh and avoids wrinkling.
- Tailored trousers: Hang on a trouser hanger, and fold along the crease rather than the seam. This preserves the creases of the style, and prevents unwanted wrinkles.
Pick the right washing detergents
Harsh chemicals can wear down the fibres of our clothes, make them more susceptible to holes, and fade their colour, let alone cause environmental damage. Try using enzyme-free washing detergent on your natural fibres. Use a washbag for synthetics to avoid residual microfibres shedding into your washing machine and causing pollution.
Wash on a cold cycle (and less often)
Use a cool 30 or below cycle for your garments. Wash your clothes separately from pants, intimates, sheets and dish cloths that should be cleaned on 60 for hygiene purposes. Spot cleaning can be the way to go when items aren’t really dirty and don’t need a full wash. Washing clothes on a hot cycle uses 75% more energy than cold water washes, and warm water is also more likely to break down dyes and cause shrinkage. Before throwing your garments in the wash, ask yourself if they are actually dirty. Take jumpers and jeans which can be worn a few times before washing. Simply air them out before storing them, and they are good for a few wears.
Air drying is the best way to keep your clothes fresher for longer, extending the life of your clothing. Remember to hang delicate and coloured clothes inside out, so they don’t bleach from the sun. Reserve dry cleaning for silk, linen, suede, leather and rayon only, or pieces with intricate beading. Avoid using the dryer as it is one of the most energy-intensive appliances in the home.
Repair and rewear
For loose buttons, torn seams or long hems, fix or update a garment before you toss it. If darning or DIY tailoring is not quite top of your to-do list, then most local dry cleaners offer repair services at competitive rates to make small changes such as hemming or patching.
Many natural fibres will pill over time and with increased usage. This is normal and is easily removable to help keep the garment fresh. Use a pilling brush and wool brush to keep the surface looking smooth.
Giving your clothing good aeration, space between hangers, and drawers that aren’t stuffed to the brim can help avoid the wear and tear of your clothing.
A second life
When you have unwanted garments, consider giving it to a new owner, selling via an online marketplace or upcycling the materials where possible. Passing these on gives the garment a second life and diverts it from landfill, a dire place where 75% of the fashion supply chain ultimately ends up.
Whilst this list is worth consulting, it is by no means exhaustive. Understanding the laundry needs of specific items is the best way to prevent any serious mishaps. Every ALKAM piece comes with a recommended method of cleaning best suited to the fabric, so do yourself a favour, and give it a quick read.