Of course, your laundry day will go much faster if you throw the contents of your entire basket into the washing machine in one go.
But of course, washing your clothes indiscriminately can also mean accidentally damaging some of your favorite wardrobe pieces. Instead, you’ll need to sort your clothes – by color, yes – but also by how often each item needs to be washed. By removing clothes that require less frequent rinsing, you can save them unnecessary wear and tear in the spin cycle and dryer. Read on to find out which five garments you’re putting too much into the wash and how to care for them in the future.
Bras: excessive washing can damage them
Bras are unique in that they usually comprise both delicate materials and an unforgiving structure. Unfortunately, a bra’s fabric and underwires can be damaged by washing or drying the item incorrectly or too often. “Excessive washing of bras can lead to fabric degradation, color loss, fraying and damage, weakening of elastic bands and loss of padding and lining,” says Rick Rome, CEO and founder of On-Demand Laundry & Dry Cleaning. Washing. “Most people should wash their bras every two or three times, as this helps maintain freshness. Activity level, perspiration and climate can influence how often bras need to be washed. For example, sports bras may need to be washed more often to eliminate perspiration and odors,” he notes. In general, Rome says it’s considered best practice to hand-wash bras, as this is gentler on delicate fabrics and helps extend life. “If bras are to be machine washed, place them in a mesh lingerie bag to prevent them from snagging on other garments and avoid warping,” he advises. “Finally, if bras need refreshing between washes, you can use lingerie sprays and air them outside instead of a full wash cycle. Bras should not be tumble-dried, even at low temperatures, as this may damage the underwires and fabrics. Lay them flat on a towel or hang them on a drying rack to avoid stretching the straps.”
Jeans: don’t wash them too often!
Jeans are one of the few items of clothing that many people wear throughout the week, and experts say that’s just fine. If your jeans go straight into the hamper after every use, you’re washing them far too often, they tell Best Life. “Jeans are generally made from durable denim fabric, and washing them too often can lead to fading and loss of shape,” says Max Ciampi, Director of the Savile Row Men’s Wear. Company of Savile Row. “Frequent washing can also accelerate fabric degradation, reducing the lifespan of your jeans.” To avoid this, Ciampi suggests washing jeans every four to six uses, or when they’re visibly dirty or stained. “Start by turning jeans inside out before washing to preserve their color, and use cold water and a gentle cycle to reduce wear,” he advises.
Sweaters: fewer washes for better preservation
Experts say most people should also wash their sweaters less frequently and take more care when doing so. “Sweaters, especially those made of wool or delicate fibers, can lose their shape and become prone to pilling if washed too frequently. Excessive washing can also cause shrinkage and increased pilling, especially with delicate fabrics like cashmere,” explains Ciampi. To keep them in perfect condition, you can wash your sweaters at the same frequency as your jeans, every four to six uses, unless they’re visibly dirty. “Airing them out between uses is a good way to keep them fresh,” Ciampi suggests. “Hand washing is a good method for delicate sweaters, or you can use a delicate cycle with cold water when machine washing. Use a mesh laundry bag to protect them from rubbing.”
Coats and jackets: beware of frequent washing
Coats and jackets, especially those with insulation or special coatings, should also be washed sparingly, says Ciampi. He recommends cleaning outerwear only when necessary, for example when visibly soiled or after prolonged use in harsh conditions. “These should not be washed too frequently, as excessive washing can damage insulation, reduce their waterproofing and cause visible wear to zippers and other hardware,” he notes.
Bathing suits: washing according to the environment
How often you wash your swimsuit depends on where you wear it, says Rome. In fact, in some scenarios, it’s perfectly acceptable to skip the wash cycle and let your suit dry in the sun. “Swimsuits only need to be washed every three to five uses when you’re swimming in freshwater, such as a river or lake, or a non-chlorinated pool,” Rome explains. “However, when swimming in an ocean, saltwater or chlorine pool, swimwear should be washed immediately after swimming as it can damage the fabric and fade the color.” When washing your swimsuit, Rome recommends using cold water – “hot water can stretch the swimsuit’s microfibers” – as well as a mild laundry detergent. This will remove sand and chlorine from the suit, without damaging the fibers. A light hand wash should also do the trick. However, Rome advises skipping the drying cycle when it comes to swimwear. “Machine-drying swimwear at high temperatures can easily damage the suit and break the polymer chains inside the material. The best way to dry swimsuits is to lay them flat or hang them to drain.”
It’s important to take care of your clothes and not wash them too often. By following these tips for bras, jeans, sweaters, coats and swimwear, you can extend their life and keep them in good condition.
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