Clothing care tips to make your wardrobe last
Often our favorite garments are those with good stories. Maybe that special piece of clothing was a gift or worn at a memorable event. But have you ever considered the story of the garment before it became yours?
The life of a garment is not a boring life, that’s for sure. From fiber to textile production, design, and fabrication, to transport and retail sales, every article of clothing is the culmination of lots of effort and imagination.
Historically, people held onto garments for a long time, but with cheap clothing now abundantly available, many societies throughout the world think of clothing as disposable. The staggering volume of new garments manufactured each year have made this paradigm shift possible.
150 billion garments per year are produced in the global fashion industry, which means about 20 items per person.
Cotton is the most commonly used raw material for fabric in the world, with 60% of women’s garments and 75% of men’s garments containing some cotton. Once the cotton fiber is harvested, it’s spun into a fabric which can be easily cut to specific design requirements.
The fabric is sold to clothing manufacturers, who manage the actual production and fabrication of the garments. Once production is complete, garments are shipped to a distribution center, where they are stored until needed at retail locations.
The Typical Lifecycle of a Garment
After the garment is sold, it may be used once, dozens of times, or never at all, before it ends up being thrown away, repurposed, or recycled.
So how many times are garments generally worn? Although there is little data currently available, a detailed survey of almost 2,000 women found that the majority of fashion purchases see the outside of the wardrobe just seven times.
As a result, Americans sent 14 million tons of clothing to landfills in 2018, all while continuing to purchase new garments at a frenzied pace. To put this in more relatable terms, the average American now generates 82 pounds of waste just from clothes they throw away every year!
Adding to the concern, more than 60 percent of fabric fibers are now oil-based synthetics, meaning if and when our clothing ends up in a landfill, they don’t decay.
Despite these large numbers, a problem at such a massive scale does in fact start with actions at the micro level. How many times you wear your garments, and how you dispose of them once it’s time to let them go, both define the life of your garment.
According to the Council for Textile Recycling, nearly one-half of used clothing is given away for donations by the general public. Simply donating your used clothing instead of throwing it away makes a significant impact on the life of your garment, and there are incredibly convenient ways to make it happen.
With Rinse, clothing donations pickup is always free during any one of your scheduled pickups, and it is a great way to extend the life of your garments by giving someone else the opportunity to enjoy them. Another way to counteract the problem of excessive clothing waste is to increase the number of times you wear your garments. A good rule of thumb is to aim for at least 30 uses.
To get to 30 uses, it’s important to ensure the proper care and cleaning of your clothes. When washing clothes, use cold water, as it’s not only helpful in preventing color bleeding and fading but helps to preserve the strength and integrity of the fibers.
Additionally, you can switch from high or medium heat to low heat in the dryer, which also helps to increase the longevity of your garments and reduces the risk of shrinkage and malformation of clothes over multiple cleanings. Or working with Rinse or your local cleaner can help!
So next time you slip into your favorite garment, take a moment to consider not only where it came from, but also where it’s going. And when you choose to extend the life of your garments, you’re making a choice that benefits more than just your wardrobe.
Red clothes have a unique makeup, including different types of clothing dye. But is this why they bleed the most? Find out why red clothes bleed the most and how you can limit it.
Contrary to popular belief, red clothes are not more prone to color bleeding than any other color. Below we’ll discuss why this is and help you understand ways you can avoid color bleeding.
Why do red clothes color bleed?
More often than not, red garments color bleed simply due to the type of dye commercial clothing manufacturers oftentimes use when making red colored clothes. The dye is called direct dye and it is actually available in other colors, which are equally as susceptible to color bleeding. However, it’s commonly used with red colored clothing items. Therefore, red colored clothing is associated with color bleeding more than other colors.
Garments with red direct dye are much more likely to color bleed in the laundry as opposed to clothes that use fiber reactive dye. This is because of the chemical makeup of direct dye and it reacts with the fibers of the clothing.
Red color bleeding also can be a result of over dyeing or the dye not being properly settled in the fabric of the clothing.
How do I avoid color bleeding?
Unless you are making your own clothes or dying your own clothes it’s difficult to know much about the dye used on your clothing items.
With that said, there are a few best practices you can follow regardless of they type of dye to limit your chances of experiencing color bleeding on your next laundry day.
- Always separate lights and darks. This is a mandatory practice at Rinse but you may be surprised to know that many people at home overlook this important step when doing their own laundry.
- Use a color fixative such as Retayne or Raycafix on your clothes pre-wash to help prevent color transfer.
- Use cold water over hot water when washing. Hot water can loosen up the fabric and increase the likelihood of color bleeding.
- When possible, adjust your washer settings to delicate or something similar to reduce the amount of friction inside the washing machine.
- Add color catcher sheets to the machine to help catch and hold dyes during washing.
- Turn your clothes inside out to reduce both color fading and color bleeding.
As you can see there are several steps you can take to help reduce the chances of color bleeding. By implementing these basic tips you’ll not only limit color bleeding but improve the lifespan of your clothes.
Extend the life of your clothes by knowing the difference between laundering and dry cleaning.
When you have clothing that needs to look sharp, like a suit, dress, sweater, or dress shirt, chances are you take it to the dry cleaners. But many nice articles of clothing don’t actually need to be dry cleaned—often, having your clothing laundered and pressed is a better choice.
So, what is the difference between laundering and dry cleaning?
The short answer - water.
Dry Cleaning: When your clothes are dry cleaned, non-water based solvents are used to remove stains, before they are crisply pressed.
Launder & Press: With laundered items, water and detergent are used. Your clothes are washed in a commercial-grade washing machine, emerge slightly damp, and then are individually pressed.
Why Launder & Press?
So what's the benefit of using Launder & Press?
• It's gentle on fabric: The chemicals used to dry clean your clothes can cause fabrics to deteriorate over time. Laundering, on the other hand, removes stains and everyday grime using water and gentler detergents.
• It's ideal for removing sweat, oils and dirt: Laundering is actually more effective than dry cleaning at removing sweat and oil from fabrics, so it is typically the best choice for dress shirts and cotton blouses. After clothes are laundered, they are pressed and hung for that crisp, fresh-from-the-cleaner look.
High-quality laundry services like Rinse read the care label on your clothing and make the call between chemical dry cleaning and laundering to maximize the life of your clothes. When you’re the one making the call, read the label: if it doesn’t say “Dry Clean Only,” ask for Launder & Press. Your clothes will thank you!
Why Dry Clean?
You may be thinking - Why on earth would anyone choose to dry clean when Launder & Press is just as effective (if not more in some cases) and gentler on fabrics? Well, the truth is, it really depends on the fabric and the piece.
• It's ideal for clothing made of natural fibers, like silk or wool because water can have an adverse effect on the fabric. Water can cause the fibers in the fabric to become rigid and even cause the garment to shrink, fade, or lose its shape.
• It's often the only way to get out certain stains: When an item is dry cleaned, it also goes through the “pre-spotting” process where an experienced cleaner will examine each garment to locate stains and determine the source so that they can treat the stain with the appropriate non-aqueous solvent. It’s not uncommon for a pre-spotter to have decades of experience!
A helpful tip to extend the life of your clothes: If you know the source of any stain on your garment, let your dry cleaner know. Be it ketchup, wine, or a splash from a puddle, your dry cleaner will use that information to choose the right solvent and minimize the risk of damage.
There’s a reason both dry cleaning and launder & press are offered today—each serves a different, valuable purpose. Both are aptly named and both keep you looking sharp!
Learn more about How Dry Cleaning Works from our COO James. He grew up in dry cleaning!
Or, read Our Guide For Which Clothes You Should And Shouldn't Dry Clean.
Following the care label instructions is critical to extending the life of your clothing. Learn what all the different care symbols mean!
Extend the life of your clothes by making sure you're caring for them properly
Below is a chart of all of the laundry care symbols that you may see on your clothing's tags. Some are straight forward while others look like alien hieroglyphics so we put them all in one place to make life easy. For more details on the reason behind each of the care instructions - like why wool can't go in the dryer - check out our Guide to Clothing Care Labels.
Do you remember to wash your bath mats? They are easy to overlook but you may be surprised why you should start cleaning them more often.
Rinse’s complete guide to properly caring for your bath mats.
Sure, your bath mat probably feels nice and soft on your feet after every shower, but underneath all that comfort may be some pretty gnarly grime and not-so-nice germs.
Before you add burn bathmat to your to-do list, I recommend at least skimming this post. Just as with bed sheets and clothing, there is a correct way to care for your bath mat so that it stays fresh and clean, shower after shower.
Caring for your bath mats in 3 steps
So what can be done to care for your bath mats?
- Determine how much use your bathmat gets - The condition of your bath mat really comes down to how much you use it.
- If you’re like most people, you are using it daily. If you share a bathroom with more than one person you then have to factor in their daily usage in addition to yours.
- You also need to consider the time in between each use where your bath mat can dry and air out. The more it is used and the less time it has to dry the more likely your bath mat has unseen dirt, germs, and even mold or mildew settling in!
- Wash your bath mats accordingly - This answer to how often you should wash your bath mats can be subjective and a bit complicated. To make things simple, a good rule of thumb is to wash your bath mat at least once per week.
- If you find yourself in a household that shares a bathroom between two or more people, then we suggest washing your bath mats every 3 to 5 days.
- If you have your own bathroom, you may be able to get away with washing your bath mats about every 10 days to prevent mold or mildew build up underneath the fabric.
- Minimize long-term moisture - It’s important to create an environment that allows your bathmats to fully dry.
- Turn on your bathroom’s fan or open a window during and after showers. Why? Because adding a little ventilation to your bathroom helps cut down on the steam buildup, which can seep into both soft (read:bathmats) and hard surfaces, making your bathroom a tropical paradise for mold spores, bacteria, and other unpleasant things.
- When you are done using your bath mat, hang it up! Exposing both sides of the bath mat to the light of day will help it dry more quickly and reduce the risk of mold and mildew.
Like most things related to laundry, we have an easy solution for you. If you have regular laundry to do (like most non-nudist adults), our subscription Wash & Fold service, Rinse Repeat, may be just what you need. You just fill up your Rinse Repeat bag with all of your laundry - including bathmats - and we’ll pick it up, wash it, fold it, and deliver it back to you on a weekly or biweekly cadence (depending on your plan).
So, then next time you hop out of the shower, remember your hardworking bath mat and be sure to give it the care it needs!
At Rinse, we feel strongly about the care we provide for your clothing. It’s our job! We thoroughly vet all of our cleaning partners to ensure you are receiving the highest-quality care possible.
We feel just as strongly about the environment and the health implications involved with some of the cleaning services we provide. We have a strict policy that all of our cleaning partners use environmentally friendly cleaning processes. The green revolution is the best solution!
What is perc and how am I exposed to it?
Historically, the dry cleaning industry has been known for using the solvent perchloroethylene (“perc”), which is a known carcinogen and potentially hazardous. While we do not partner with any cleaners that use perc we believe it is important for us to provide you with further insight on perc and green dry cleaning.
If your clothes are being cleaned at a dry cleaner that uses perc you most likely are exposed to it through inhalation or skin exposure. Common side effects include dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, nausea, and skin and respiratory irritation.
Yikes! Needless to say, it is important to find out if your dry cleaner is using perc or not.
The majority of our cleaners offer a hydrocarbon-based solvent, which is one of the preferred alternatives to perc. This type of solvent is non-toxic, has no documented risk of causing cancer, and is environmentally safe.
Many cleaners outside California still use perc and our decision to work with non-perc cleaners everywhere is accelerating much-needed change in the industry.
If all of this talk about toxic solvents has you a bit worried about dry cleaning your clothes there may be an alternative for you. Wet cleaning!
What is wet cleaning?
Wet cleaning is a water-based alternative to dry cleaning that is safe for use on dry-clean-only items. It uses special machinery to maintain the size of the garment and feel of the fabric while cleaning the garment with water and detergents. We only work with cleaning partners who have demonstrated a great quality and consistency in the wet cleaning process.
It is recommended for water-soluble stains on dry-clean only materials since it will have greater cleaning efficacy while maintaining the look and feel of the fabric. However, we do not recommend wet cleaning for all your dry-clean-only clothes. In summary, it is both safer for you (our customers) and the environment to go green and avoid perc.
We strongly suggest that you find out if your current dry cleaner is using perc or not. Or just schedule a pickup with us and we’ll make sure your items are cleaned using environmentally friendly cleaning processes. We guarantee it!
If you are still hesitant don’t just take it from us. Here is a “Smart Science” segment on green dry cleaning from who else? That’s right! The Weather Channel.
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