Not all fabrics are alike, and not all fabrics can be cleaned the same way. Although you should always check the care label in a particular garment, here are tips for cleaning some of the most common natural fabrics.
- A fine wool made from the undercoat of the cashmere goat, cashmere is as soft as it is expensive.
- Most cashmere can be dry cleaned, and some can be gently washed. Most woven cashmere requires dry cleaning to retain its shape. But knitted cashmere, such as sweaters, can — and should — be hand washed.
- Careful washing helps them retain their lustre and loft.
- Use a natural, undyed soap and cool water. Move the sweater around in the cool water for a few minutes.
- Rinse repeatedly — until the rinse water is clear.
- Lay out the sweater to dry, pressing it with a dry towel to remove excess water.
- If you need to touch it up with an iron, do so carefully, using a pressing cloth.
- By far, cotton is the most widely used fibre found in today’s wardrobes.
- Since not even boiling hurts the fibres, cotton can be machine washed in high temperatures using any good detergent.
- You can use chlorine bleach safely on cotton whites (but never soak for more than 15 minutes, since the bleach will break down the fibres) and all-fabric bleach on dyed cottons.
- Cotton is an absorbent fibre and requires lots of drying time.
- Because it wrinkles easily, it often requires pressing. Use a hot steam iron.
- Linen is made from flax, one of the oldest textile fibres. (It dates back to at least 5000 BC!)
- Today, you can wash some varieties of linen, but others should be dry cleaned. Sometimes it’s up to you.
- Linen has natural pectin that keeps it stiff and crisp. Washing removes the pectin, making it softer.
- If you prefer crisp linen, then have your linen dry cleaned.
- Otherwise, machine wash it in warm water and tumble dry.
- It tends to wrinkle and often requires pressing. Use a steam iron on medium or high heat.
- Made from protein fibre produced by the silkworm, this ancient material connotes fabulous wealth and exotic locales.
- It is expensive and must be treated accordingly.
- Most silk is dry clean only, since laundry detergents can harm silk.
- If the care label says that hand washing is okay, use a mild soap and lukewarm water.
- Never use bleach with silk.
- When ironing, iron inside out on low heat.
- A natural fibre that comes from sheep, wool has been around for thousands of years. It is known for its warmth and ability to shed wrinkles.
- There are many types of wool and different ways to care for it.
- Generally speaking, you should dry clean wool at least once a season or when needed.
- You can also hand wash wool.
- Since wool loses its shape when wet, when washing a wool sweater, first lay the sweater out on a piece of clean paper and trace the shape. You’ll use this for laying the sweater out while drying.
- Use warm water and a mild detergent that contains no bleach.
- Don’t soak.
- Rinse well.
- To dry, roll the sweater in a clean towel and squeeze out excess water.
- Put a piece of plastic over the pattern you made, to prevent dyes from the paper from bleeding onto the sweater.
- Pat the sweater out to fit the shape.
- Smooth out wrinkles.
- If the item needs pressing, use light steam and a press cloth.