How To Wash The Four Most Common Fabrics In Your Wardrobe

I used to live in fear of buying expensive clothes. I’d grown up hearing horror stories about expensive shirts that were ruined by being washed wrong, and I’d never been able to iron well. I spent years wearing wrinkled and shrunken clothes, until I became a lingerie (and occasional fashion) writer. I had pretty much run out of excuses to avoid learning how to wash things properly at that point.


Luckily washing stuff has gotten a lot easier since I was a kid, especially with the products that Soak Wash is putting out. Before you put any of these methods to work, I suggest you pick up a Phil bucket in your favorite color. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but they really are the optimal size and shape to hand wash lots of clothes at once. And really, who wants to handwash stuff more than once a week anyway? So go grab your Phil bucket and some Soak Wash in your favorite scent, and we’ll get started.

How to Wash Wool:

I know lots of you are knitters, and I assume the rest of us are wool sweater owners. The problem with wool is that when you don’t wash it properly, you can put your sweater in the wash and end up with something that would fit your dog or cat. Wool likes to shrink, but there are some easy ways to get around that.

Make sure you start out by spot cleaning the wool garment and soaking it in cold water for at least an hour. This makes sure all the fibers are saturated and prevents shrinkage later. Then, put it in your Phil bucket with more cold water and your favorite Soak scent. You can soak and squish wool around all you want, but try to keep the fibers from rubbing against each other if at all possible. After a few minutes, roll it up in a clean towel to squeeze the water out and lay the item flat to dry. This will help it keep the right shape and size.

How to Wash Cotton:

Cotton has some of the same issues as wool when you go to wash it, and the process is very similar. You don’t have to pre-soak cotton, but do make sure that you wash your cotton in cold water and lay it flat to dry. If it seems to have a shrunk a little, you can stretch it out by hand gently to counteract it.

How to Wash Silk:

I always thought you had to dry clean silk, but I know several people who don’t and haven’t ruined a shirt yet. The other day I found out that my father washes his silk shirts, which blew my mind. My father’s idea of cooking is sardines on crackers so if he can wash silk, anyone can.

Keep in mind that not all silk is built alike. Some silk can’t get wet at all without permanently changing color.  Make sure you spot test somewhere that isn’t visible, and if the color runs or changes at all then you need to take the item to the dry cleaner. If it doesn’t, you’re good to go.

Start by soaking the silk item in your Phil bucket filled with lukewarm water and some Soak Wash. Don’t soak for more than five minutes no matter what. Don’t rub the garment or mess with it, as it can damage the delicate fabric. Then pour out the first batch of water, and add clean lukewarm water with a quarter cup of vinegar. Rinse briefly in this, and then rinse again in cold water.

Wring the silk item out in a clean towel, and leave it in the towel. From now on, air is the enemy. When you’re ready to finish up, put your iron on low heat and iron the item from the inside. Make sure that you’re not ironing on the outside of the garment. This should dry it and let you get the wrinkles out at the same time.

How to Clean Modal Fabrics:

You don’t see a lot about modal fabrics online, which is surprising since so many clothing and lingerie designers are using them these days. I’m a huge fan of them, right down to my eucalyptus blend sheets, but they do require special cleaning.

Modal fabrics are easy to deal with, as long as you don’t put them through the dryer. Wash them in your Phil bucket in cold water, and lay garments flat to dry. If you’re washing large items like sheets, you can put them through the washer on the gentle cycle and the dryer on the lowest cycle. The fantastic thing about modal fabrics is they tend to get softer each time you wash them.

-Holly

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