Your Clothing Care Guide:Everything You Need to Know
Keep your garments looking their best by taking good care of them. Every fabric, from cotton and wool to nylon and leather, requires a different method of care to ensure they last a lifetime.
This guide is jam-packed with all the clothing care tips you’ll ever need. Find out what each washing symbol means and how you can wash, dry and look after your clothes properly.
Cotton is a soft material. Cool and comfortable, it’s perfect for summer or for those with allergies.
If you’re unsure about how to care for a particular cotton item, check the washing symbols for the recommended cleaning instructions.
Follow these steps to take the best care of your cotton tops and other cotton garments.
1. PRE-TREAT STAINS & MACHINE WASH: Prepare your cotton garment for a machine wash by spraying a quality stain remover on any stains. Add detergent to the washing machine. Use colour-safe detergent for your coloured cotton items, or a mild bleach product for white items. Be sure not to use too much as this can damage the fabric.
2. RINSE COTTON GARMENTS IN COOL WATER: You can wash your cotton items in warm water, but be sure to rinse in cold water so your cotton clothing doesn’t shrink.
3. DRY ON THE LINE OR IN THE DRYER ON A LOW HEAT: You can dry cotton in the dryer on a low heat setting, but it’s recommended to dry your cotton garments on the clothes line. This is also a great way to save time on ironing.
4. IRON TO GET RID OF WRINKLES: Cotton is prone to wrinkles. Once your cotton clothes are dry, run over them with a hot steam iron. Use a light misting of starch to keep them crisp for longer.
Woollen clothes like cardigans and knitwear, are perfect for winter as wool retains heat while allowing your skin to breathe. But it can be difficult to clean as it shrinks easily. Check the washing symbols for the recommended care instructions.
These simple steps will help you look after most woollen garments.
1. WASH WOOLLEN ITEMS IN COLD WATER: Always wash wool in cold water to preserve thread quality and avoid shrinkage. Wool doesn’t need to be washed too often. Most manufacturers recommend washing your woollen garment once a season.
2. LAY YOUR WOOLLEN CLOTHING FLAT TO DRY: In order to dry your woollen clothing, you must never use heat. No dryers or heaters, as these will cause your garment to shrink. Instead lay your woollen garment flat and allow it to air dry.
3. TAKE EXTRA CARE WITH WOOL: Never iron wool. Instead turn it inside out and steam the item using the steam setting on your iron.
Linen is a natural fabric produced by flax yarn. This makes it perfect for spring and summer because it breathes and keeps you cool. Linen is resistant to rubbing which makes it durable.
The following instructions will help you care for most linen items.
1. WASH LINEN IN COLD WATER: Use a gentle stain remover spray, before washing linen by hand in cold water with a small amount of detergent.
2. HANG YOUR LINEN CLOTHING ON THE LINE: Avoid tumble drying; hanging on the clothesline will reduce wrinkles. Use a hot steam iron to get rid of any wrinkles.
3. STORE LINEN CLOTHING PROPERLY TO AVOID WRINKLES: Folding isn’t recommended as linen creases easily. Instead roll it up or hang it on a clothes hanger.
Silk is a natural fabric made from the fibre from silkworm cocoons, making it the elegant and stylish choice. It’s often used for evening wear, special occasions and luxurious sleepwear.
This is a delicate material and needs to be looked after appropriately. If in doubt, follow the item’s individual care instructions by checking the washing symbols.
These are the common recommendations for caring for silk.
1. DRY CLEAN OR GENTLY HAND WASH SILK: Generally, silk should only ever be dry-cleaned. But if you must wash it at home, hand wash it using a small amount of gentle soap. Be very careful when handling it wet because it can become misshapen.
2. ONLY AIR DRY SILK ITEMS: Avoid wringing out your silk item, or tumble drying it, as this will damage the fibres. Instead leave it to air dry.
Taking care of your denim will make it last and last. Traditional denim jeans are made from 100% cotton, which makes them very durable.
While most denim items are cotton, sometimes they are blended with other materials, so it’s important to follow the washing directions listed on the tag.
The simple instructions will help you take care of most denim garments.
1. WASH BEFORE YOUR FIRST WEAR: Always wash denim before wearing. This will remove excess dyes, and helps to soften the denim, ready for wear.
2. DON'T WASH TOO OFTEN: Denim doesn’t have to be washed regularly, as it is a tough material that can withstand a lot. Always spot clean before resorting to washing.
3. TRY CLEANING DENIM WITHOUT THE WASHING MACHINE: Other ways to clean denim is by putting your items in the freezer to kill odour-causing bacteria, or steaming them using your iron or garment steamer.
4. WASH IN COLD WATER: If your jeans do need a wash, set your washing machine to cold water to avoid shrinking. Washing them will bring them back to their original shape.
5. HANG THEM ON THE LINE OR IN THE DRYER ON A LOW HEAT: Be sure to dry them on a low heat or on the washing line.
Follow our Go-To Guide to Denim to get more valuable advice on everything denim from washing your jeans to outfit inspiration and more.
It’s important to look after your leather boots, leather jackets, and other leather items to prevent damage and ensure they last. Leather is made through the process of tanning hides of animals such as cows, pig and sheep.
Manufacturers will provide you with their cleaning recommendations through washing symbols featured on the tags.
Alternatively, you can follow these simple steps for caring for most leather items.
1. USE A PROTECTANT SPRAY BEFORE YOUR FIRST USE: If you’ve recently purchased a leather garment, it’s a good idea to use a leather protectant spray to ensure that it doesn’t become water damaged.
2. DUST USING A SOFT BRISTLED BRUSH: If you want to clean your favourite leather item, begin by dusting the leather garment with a soft bristled brush.
3. WIPE TO CLEAN YOUR LEATHER GARMENT: Wipe the surface of your leather garment with a damp cloth to remove any marks and then wipe with a dry cloth.
4. USE A LEATHER CONDITIONER: Conditioning your leather with a leather conditioner will prevent the leather from drying it out and cracking, as well as keeping it soft and improving the longevity.
5. DRY CLEAN LEATHER OCCASIONALLY: If your leather item has wrinkles, or needs a good clean, it’s best to take it to a drycleaner who specialises in leather.
Polyester is durable, strong, and resistant to creasing. It’s a manufactured fibre that wears well. Wash your polyester clothing in cold or warm water, and use a fabric softener.
It should dry quickly and is resistant to stretching and shrinking. Be careful when ironing, because this synthetic fibre can melt.
Elastane won't shrink as it can stretch and spring back to its original shape, it’s often blended with other materials like denim or cotton.
To clean, set your washing machine water temperature to cold or lukewarm. Dry on the line, and only use a cool iron when ironing.
Acrylic is a synthetic fibre and is a great alternative to wool as it's easier to wash and dry. Machine wash your acrylic garment in warm water and dry in the dryer on a low temperature.
It can be dry-cleaned in many cases, but should only be ironed at a low temperature.
Nylon is a durable, strong, and lightweight fabric that is resistant to creasing. Even better, the colour does not fade.
Wash nylon in cold or warm water. However, if you need to iron nylon, use the iron at a low temperature with no steam as it is sensitive to heat.
Viscose has a soft and luxurious feel and breathes much like cotton. It is the most common type of rayon.
Wash in cold or lukewarm water and avoid pegging viscose on the clothes line as the pegs can leave indents when fabric is wet. Drying on a clothes horse is a better idea.
Rayon has some qualities of cotton; it is soft and comfortable to wear, it drapes well, and it has no static or pilling problems.
Some rayon garments will be dry clean only. Follow the clothing care instructions on the label for the best results.
It is often safe to hand wash with cold to lukewarm water. Iron on a low heat with no steam, and do not tumble dry. Do not wring; instead, air dry.
Acetate is a manufactured, cellulosic-based fibre that makes the material look like silk. It is a very drapey fabric. Depending on the finish, it can be either crisp or soft.
It should only be hand washed with warm water. It dries quickly, but avoid tumble drying as it can melt. Do not wring and use a cool iron with a cloth or pillow case between the iron and the garment.
Polyurethane is a synthetic fibre similar to plastic, so it’s best to keep away from direct heat. Never iron or tumble dry.
It can’t be dry cleaned or washed in the general sense. Simply wipe it clean with a damp cloth and allow to air dry.
Brush the hat/bag gently to remove any large dirt particles.
Fill a spray bottle with water and mild dish soap. For stubborn stains mix one part hydrogen peroxide and one part water in a spray bottle.
Spray onto a soft cloth.
Test a small area to see if the solution is not damaging to the hat/bag. If there is no sign of damage wipe the cloth over the entire hat/bag.
Clean the stain. On encountering stubborn stains simply spray a little of the solution onto the stain.
Taking care of your shoes won’t only ensure they look good, but it will also make them last longer. A good quality pair of shoes can last you for years, as long as you know how to look after them.
Cleaning, conditioning and repair will make a tired pair of shoes look new again.
5 STEPS FOR CARING FOR LEATHER SHOES
1. CLEAN THEM REGULARLY:
Use a specially formulated soap to clean the leather. A soft tooth brush will remove excess dirt. Finish by wiping with a damp microfibre cloth.
2. CONDITION FOR BEAUTIFUL LEATHER:
A leather conditioner will soften and moisturise leather. This will prevent the leather from cracking and drying out.
3. PROTECT YOUR SHOES:
Prevention is always better than having to repair your leather shoes down the track. Weatherproofing with a protectant spray will protect your shoes from puddles in winter.
To avoid scuffing and wearing through your soles, it’s a great idea to head to a cobbler and ask for protective soles.
4. POLISHING IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED:
Using a wax polish will not only make your shoes look amazing, it will also condition the leather and protect it from water and stains.
If you polish your shoes regularly, you build up a layer of polish that protects them from scuffs and marks.
Apply the wax polish using a soft brush. Apply liberally and then use a pair of women’s stockings to remove any excess and polish them up.
5. REPAIR AND REPLACE SOLES:
If your shoes are looking a little worn, or the sole has been worn down to the stacked heel, head to the cobbler and have them repaired before it gets any worse and the damage becomes permanent.
4 STEPS FOR CARING FOR CANVAS SHOES
1. BRUSH OFF EXCESS DIRT:
You will want to brush off the dirt regularly to avoid it getting to deep into the fibres. Stomp to remove dirt from the soles, and then brush off the caked on dirt with a soft brush. If your shoes muddy, wait until they are dry to remove dirt.
2. WASH YOUR SHOES:
Once excess dirt is removed, wipe with a damp microfibre cloth. Use a little soapy water and a soft brush to gently remove stains.
Sprinkle some bicarb soda into the shoes to remove odours. Using a washing machine is not recommended, but if you insist, place them in a canvas bag to protect them.
Many people like to use a bleach solution to clean white sneakers. Before you do, be sure to check the cleaning instructions on the shoe to see whether this is recommended.
Remove scuff marks on rubber soles using a nylon pad, and soak laces in soapy water before rinsing them.
3. DRY YOUR SHOES CAREFULLY:
Never put your canvas shoes in the dryer. It will destroy the rubber and glue holding your shoes together. Instead, let them air dry.
You can speed up the process by placing the shoes in front of a fan. Placing silica gel packets will help dry the insides faster, or just crumple up some plain paper and place inside the shoe.
4. REPLACE PARTS & PROTECT YOUR SHOES:
Investing in new inserts every so often will keep the shoes fresh and comfortable. You can also replace laces when the originals start to wear.
Using a protectant spray will keep them cleaner for longer, while using a liquid shoe polish will keep your soles looking fresh.
Looking after your lingerie will ensure it continues to last and look good. No-one likes a pilled bra that is stretched out, with underwire that pokes and prods. So taking good care of your lingerie is essential.
Lingerie is delicate, so it must be washed carefully and mindfully. Replace bras at least once a year, and make sure you have enough bras to rotate through so you don’t wear out your favourite too quickly. See our Lingerie Guide for tips on choosing the perfect bra for you.
HAND WASHING IS BEST
This is the best way to care for your bras. Fill a sink or bucket with warm water and a small amount of a gentle soap.
Gently rub where stains or sweat collects and soak lingerie for a couple of hours. Rinse in cold water and then use a towel and press to remove excess water. Hang by both straps to dry.
WASHING MACHINE TIPS
If you want to use the washing machine, a lingerie bag will keep your bra straps from getting caught and stretched. It can also prevent pilling on delicate materials. Use cold water and never put your bras into a dryer as the heat will damage the elasticity.
WASHING SHAPEWEAR & UNDERWEAR
It’s a smart idea to wash delicate underwear in a lingerie bag. Choose a gentle washing machine cycle and soap for both your underwear and shapewear. It’s best to air dry these items so you don’t damage the elasticity.
Those washing symbols on the label of your favourite jacket may seem like a forgotten language, but each symbol is there to let you know how best to care for your favourite clothing item.
Not all items are alike; that’s why it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s washing instructions. But those washing symbols can be difficult to decipher. If you are wondering how to interpret those clothing care symbols, we’re here to help!
Follow this helpful Washing Symbols Guide to make sure you clean your clothes properly and get the most out of them.
The most durable clothes are those that are made of the best quality materials. So if you’re looking to invest in a staple item of clothing, such as your jacket or winter boots, be sure to choose premium fabrics. Leather, cotton and denim are all made to last … But give them a helping hand by following our clothing care advice.