How to Look After Your Clothes
Clothing care might not be the most exciting topic out there (That would be shoe shopping, just FYI…), but nevertheless, I’m sure no one needs me to point out* that there’s not much point in buying nice clothes if you’re not going to look after them, is there?
(*I’m going to point it out anyway. You’re welcome.)
Now, I’m sure no one who’s been reading this blog for more than a few weeks will be even remotely surprised to hear that I’ve had a fairly checkered career when it comes to clothing care. There was the time I dyed every one of Terry’s work shirts pink. The numerous times I’ve dyed every piece of lingerie I own a dingy shade of grey. That one time when I was ironing a bedsheet (Because, yes, I iron sheets: let’s not make this any more of a big deal than it needs to be….), and I glanced down to see the young Rubin casually peeing against the side of it that was draped against the ironing board. OK, so that last one wasn’t actually clothing, or, you know, relevant, but I STILL can’t believe he did that, so I just wanted to mention it one more time, so you can all share my utter disbelief at what a little git he used to be, seriously.
Anyway! This week I’ve been testing out a new range of clothing care products called Verve, and I will now regale you with my findings. Before I do, though, here are some of the tips I’ve picked up over the years about clothing care…
Don’t over-wash your clothes
I had a long conversation a few weeks ago with someone who washes his jeans after every single wear, and was absolutely astonished to find out that I DON’T do that. Actually, the truth is that I try to wash my jeans – and everything else, for that matter – as infrequently as possible: not because I’m lazy, but because I honestly don’t think they need it. I mean, I work from home, in a temperature-controlled office. It’s not like I’m toiling hard in the fields every day, or sweating through my clothes in the space of an hour, is it?
Over-washing clothes is a really good way to shorten their lifespan. I love that “brand new clothes” feel, and most items never have it again once you’ve washed them, which is why my policy is to only wash when it’s actually needed: so, if the item in question is dirty, or starting to smell. Obviously there are certain exceptions to this: lingerie and sportswear is washed after every single wear, as is anything else that comes in close contact with the skin, but something like a full skirt, for instance, which only touches the body at the waistband (and even then, it’s normally worn with a top tucked in), won’t need to be washed nearly as often as that: so why do it?
My obsession with that “brand new” feeling is one of the reasons I was interested in working with Verve: their fabric serum, for instance, is designed to help your clothes retain their colour, fit and shape, even after washing, so it seemed like exactly the kind of thing I didn’t even know I was looking for. I’ll be honest here: I’ve always just bought supermarket own-brand washing powder, without giving it a whole lot of thought, so realising that there are products out there that will allow me to keep my clothes looking like new was a bit of a “D’UH” moment for me. (As I’m sure reading that confession will be for you…)
Treat stains immediately. Immediately.
Although, as I said, I live and work in a clean, modern home, and don’t really do anything at all to damage my clothes, I still manage to get a lot of stains on them. A LOT of stains. I swear to God, I know toddlers who make a better job of eating without spilling things than I do, and I’m honestly not joking about that: my ability to spill things like red wine or tomato ketchup down myself is legendary – and I seem to be able to do it even when I’m not actually eating/drinking red wine or ketchup, either: HOW?
Anyway, the key to dealing with this situation, I find is to treat any rogue stains immediately: as in, the second they occur. If you don’t do that, the stain will have time to dry in, and it’ll be goodnight Vienna. (If I’ve ever eaten at your home, you’re probably familiar with the sight of me standing at your kitchen sink desperately trying to scrub some random stain off my clothes: sorry about that.) As proof of this, while I was taking the photos for this post – and I promise I’m not making this up – I discovered a stain of unknown origins on the sleeve of my beloved Boden sweatshirt. God knows how long it had been there, but after briefly freaking out, I realised this was as good an opportunity as any to try out the Verve range, so I popped it in the machine, along with some of the detergent capsules (Side note: I LOVE these. For years now, we’ve been buying giant boxes of washing powder instead, and I always, ALWAYS manage to dribble it all over the floor when I try to put it into the machine…) and fabric conditioner.
I was a little worried about this, because this was the first time that sweatshirt had been washed, and I really didn’t want it to lose that ‘shiny new clothes’ feel. Luckily, it emerged from the machine looking and feeling as good as new (and minus the mystery stain, thank goodness), and, as an added bonus, my entire house smelt like it had been to the cleaners for the next two days. Speaking of the cleaners, by the way…
Avoid buying dry-clean only items if you know you won’t take them to the cleaners
Now, I have absolutely nothing against dry cleaners (Well, other than the one that ruined my pink satin skirt that time: they will be forever on my list of Enemies…), but, living in the exact middle of nowhere, as I do, there isn’t one particularly nearby, and I’m just going to admit here that I’m WAY too lazy to get in the car and drive for miles, just to get my clothes cleaned. No, if anyone’s going to be ruining my clothes, it’s going to be me, thanks very much. Ahem.
Because I know dry-clean only items will be worn once (or however many times it takes for them to need it), and then spend the rest of their lives sitting in a ‘take to the cleaners’ pile that will never, ever reach its intended destination, I will actively avoid buying those items, if I possibly can. When I DO find myself in possession of something that’s dry clean only, however, I hate to admit it, but unless I’m very, very attached to it, and know it will break my heart to lose it, I will sometimes just gently hand-wash it myself. I’ve had surprisingly few accidents due to this, so even although I know you’re all about to scold me for it, I’m… well, I’m probably going to keep on doing it. You, on the other hand, should definitely make the trek to the dry cleaners, because you’re a sensible person, and that’s what sensible people do when it comes to clothing care. Yes.
Good clothing care means less tumble-drying
I’ve lost WAY more clothes to the tumble dryer than I ever have to the washing machine. I still do it, because, lazy, but seriously: tumble drying can be REALLY hard on your clothes, so if I have something that I really don’t want to ruin, I just won’t risk it. Instead, I dry items flat, normally on the kitchen table: I find that’s the best way to make sure they keep their shape, and it also allows you to neatly side-step that moment where you reach into the dryer for your favourite sweater, and realise that it would now fit the dog. Too many times to mention, folks, too many times to mention…
So, how did I get on with my little Verve experiment? Pretty well, actually: like I said, I’ve always been quite cheap when it comes to detergents – despite spending a lot of money on clothes, I somehow never really saw the point in spending a lot on detergent – which is actually kind of crazy, when you think about it: it’s like buying a house and not bothering to maintain it. (And I know that if Terry reads this, he’ll probably make some kind of comment about my clothes costing almost as MUCH as a house, so HA! Beat you to it, Terry!)
Anyway, I have noticed a difference in my clothes since using the Verve collection: they’re softer, fresher, and I’m less worried about putting then in the machine and having them come back out again looking like a collection of limp dishrags. Most of all, I LOVE the fresh smell these products leave on the clothes, and which, as I said, permeates the whole house on laundry day. It lasts for ages, too, which means your house smells clean and fresh, even if your clothes are the only thing you’ve actually cleaned: result!
What are your top clothing care tips?
[This post was sponsored by Verve]