Knowing your fabrics can be a really useful skill to have. Not only will it help you dress appropriately for the weather, but could also save your bests from being damaged in the wash.
We know, it’s tempting to throw your clothes in with the towels and whatever else is clogging up the laundry basket! That’s all well and good, until one day your favourite top that you’ve loved for years comes out of the wash, ruined!
You may think you already know the important stuff, but if you delve a little deeper, you might find your laundry routine requires more skill than you first imagined. No worries – we’re here to turn you into a modern-day Martha Stewart.
There are two main divides in the fabric department, natural and synthetic fabrics. When you purchase clothes, you may want to take a look at the fabric composition, and whether it’s going to provide what you’re looking for. These could be things such as warmth, breathability, durability, drying time, softness, absorbency, shininess and elasticity – all of which differ widely from fabric to fabric.
Think about what you’re looking for when you’re buying your next item of clothes:
Warmth – Wool tends to be our go-to option when we’re looking for something to keep us warm and cosy, and there’s good reason. The fibers in wool create pockets of air in your clothing that help the fabric to insulate. Wool can generally go a few wears before it needs a wash. It pays to wash wool separately – hand wash if you can – with wool detergents.
Breathability – When it’s comfort you’re looking for, you generally can’t go past cotton. Cotton allows air to circulate through to your skin, however it’s often blended with polyester to reduce creasing and shrinking.
Durability – If you’re looking for activewear that is going to keep up with tough workouts and frequent washes then go for spandex and polyester. They are both strong and durable fabrics that will withstand tougher use while providing the flexibility and comfort you need for working out.
Drying Time – Linen is a light and airy fabric making it a quick drying option – just remember that you’ll need to iron out any creases before wear!
Softness – We all like to feel comfortable with fabrics against our skin, but it’s especially important for the sensitive and delicate skin of little ones. Both pure cotton and pure silk are renowned for their softness and feel wonderfully soft on your skin. If you’re looking for baby clothes, choose organic or 100% cotton.
Elasticity – A lot of synthetic fibers are known for their elasticity. Nylon which is used in hosiery is designed to be stretched, as with spandex used in swimming/wetsuit materials. If you’re after something versatile and comfortable, have a look at a garment’s fabric composition to see if it includes an elastic fabric. Always check the garment’s washing instructions to see the best practice – it will usually suggest that you avoid dryers and instead lay items flat in the shade.
If you have a fabric that you’re not sure about when it comes to putting it through the wash, treat it as a ‘delicate’ to reduce your chances of damaging your clothes. Have fun and experiment with different fabrics to add interest to outfits. And next time you’re doing the washing, try to spend a minute or two paying attention to those once insignificant little clothing labels!