Being a conscious consumer is not just about what we buy, but also about how we care for our purchases. Properly maintaining our clothing—like following washing instructions, repairing minor damages, and tailoring as our bodies change—is crucial. This mindful approach to garment care has been drowned out in the noise of fast fashion, which promotes a cycle of hyper-consumption and trend-chasing.
The Impact of Fast Fashion:
Fast fashion pushes a narrative of disposability, urging us to constantly buy new items. This behavior has dire environmental consequences globally. To understand the extent of this impact, researching issues like the Atacama Desert and Kantamonto Market can be eye-opening.
Rethinking Clothing Donation:
Donating clothes is not the catch-all solution it's often believed to be. Over 80% of donated garments end up in landfills or as part of colonial waste exports. The best way to ensure the longevity of our clothing, and to uphold our responsibility, is through careful maintenance.
Garment Care Basics:
Navigating the care of different fabrics can seem overwhelming. Here are a few general tips to help extend the life of your clothes:
- Wash Less, Care More: Frequent washing can shorten the lifespan of your clothes. Try to wash them less often.
- Spot Cleaning: For small stains or soils, spot cleaning is effective and less harsh on your garments.
- Mindful Detergent Use: Modern detergents are powerful, and using too much can leave a residue on clothes, impacting their texture and color. A little goes a long way.
Special Care for Quality Fabrics:
We'll explore how to care for high-quality fabrics like organic cotton, wool, linen, modal, lyocell, cashmere, and leather. These materials may need extra TLC, but it's a small price for the longevity and quality they offer.
Organic Cotton Care Guide
- Water Temperature: Always wash organic cotton in cold water to maintain the integrity of the fibers and prevent shrinkage.
- Detergent: Use a mild, eco-friendly detergent. Avoid bleach and fabric softeners, as they can weaken the fibers over time.
- Cycle Choice: Opt for the gentle cycle on your washing machine. This reduces the stress on the fibers and helps maintain the shape of your garments.
- Load Size: Do not overload the washer. A spacious load allows the garments to get cleaned thoroughly and reduces stretching or twisting.
- Air Dry: Whenever possible, air dry your organic cotton items. Lay them flat on a clean, dry surface or hang them up to dry, away from direct sunlight to prevent fading.
- Dryer Use: If you must use a dryer, choose the lowest heat setting. Over-drying can cause shrinkage and weaken the fibers.
Tips and Tricks:
- Stain Removal: Address stains immediately for easier removal. Gentle natural remedies like baking soda paste for oil stains or diluted white vinegar for mild stains can be effective.
- Ironing: If ironing is necessary, do it on a low heat setting and preferably iron inside out or use a thin cloth between the iron and the garment.
- Storage: Fold and store organic cotton in a cool, dry place to prevent stretching or misshaping. Avoid hangers for heavy items like sweaters.
- Freshening Up: Instead of washing after every wear, air out your organic cotton garments to keep them fresh. This reduces the number of washes needed and prolongs the life of the fabric.
Wool Care Guide
- Water Temperature: Wash wool in cool or lukewarm water. Hot water can cause shrinking and felting.
- Detergent: Use a gentle, wool-specific detergent. Avoid bleach and standard detergents, as they can damage wool fibers.
- Cycle Choice: Select a gentle, hand-wash, or wool cycle on your washing machine. If possible, opt for hand washing to maintain the best condition of your wool items.
- Load Size: Wash wool garments separately or with similar items to prevent abrasion and pilling.
- Air Dry: Lay wool garments flat on a towel to air dry. This prevents stretching and misshaping that can occur when hanging.
- Avoid Heat: Never use a dryer for wool items. High temperatures can cause shrinkage and damage the fiber integrity.
Tips and Tricks:
- Stain Removal: Blot stains gently with a mixture of cold water and wool detergent. Avoid rubbing as it can damage the fibers.
- Ironing: If necessary, iron wool on a low heat setting with a pressing cloth between the iron and the garment to avoid scorch marks.
- Storage: Store wool garments in a cool, dry place. Use garment bags to protect from moths. Cedar blocks can also be used as a natural moth repellent.
- Freshening Up: Wool doesn't need to be washed frequently. Air out wool garments after wearing to refresh them. Wool is naturally odor-resistant.
Cashmere Care Guide
- Water Temperature: Always wash cashmere in cold water. Hot water can cause shrinking and damage the delicate fibers.
- Detergent: Use a mild detergent formulated for delicate fabrics. Cashmere requires gentle treatment to maintain its softness and luxurious feel.
- Cycle Choice: Hand wash if possible. If using a washing machine, choose the gentlest cycle. Cashmere is best cared for with minimal agitation.
- Load Size: Wash cashmere items separately or with similar delicate items to protect them from damage and pilling.
- Air Dry: Lay cashmere flat on a clean, dry towel to air dry. Avoid hanging cashmere as it can stretch and lose its shape.
- Avoid Heat: Never use a dryer for cashmere. High temperatures and tumbling can shrink and damage the fabric.
Tips and Tricks:
- Stain Removal: Address stains by gently dabbing with a mixture of cold water and mild detergent. Rubbing can damage the delicate fibers.
- Ironing: Ironing is rarely necessary for cashmere. If needed, use a low heat setting and a pressing cloth to avoid direct contact with the iron.
- Storage: Store cashmere folded in a drawer or on a shelf. Avoid hangers to prevent stretching. Moth repellents like cedar blocks can help protect it.
- Refreshing Cashmere: Cashmere doesn't need frequent washing. Often, airing it out is enough to refresh it. Cashmere's natural oils resist dirt and odors.
Linen Care Guide
- Water Temperature: Wash linen in lukewarm or cold water. Hot water can cause the fabric to shrink or lose its shape.
- Detergent: Choose a mild, gentle detergent. Avoid bleach as it can weaken the linen fibers and strip away the fabric's natural softness.
- Cycle Choice: Use a gentle wash cycle. Linen is durable but can be prone to wrinkling, so a gentle cycle helps minimize this.
- Load Size: Don't overcrowd the washing machine. Linen needs space to move in the water for thorough cleaning.
- Air Dry: Hang or lay flat to air dry linen garments. This helps preserve the fabric's shape and reduces wrinkles.
- Avoid Heat: High heat from a dryer can shrink and weaken linen. If you must use a dryer, use a low heat setting and remove the linen while it's still slightly damp.
Tips and Tricks:
- Stain Removal: Treat stains immediately by blotting gently with cold water and mild detergent. Avoid rubbing harshly as it can damage the fabric.
- Ironing: If you prefer a crisp look, iron linen while it's slightly damp on a medium-hot setting. Use steam to ease out tough wrinkles.
- Storage: Store linen in a dry, well-ventilated area to prevent mildew. Fold it neatly to avoid deep creases, which can be hard to iron out.
- Refreshing Linen: Linen naturally resists dirt and stains, so it doesn't need frequent washing. Hanging linen in fresh air can be a great way to refresh it between washes.
Lyocell/Modal Care Guide
- Water Temperature: Wash lyocell and modal fabrics in cold or lukewarm water to maintain their strength and prevent shrinking.
- Detergent: Opt for a mild detergent. These fabrics are delicate, so harsh chemicals should be avoided to preserve the fabric's softness and color.
- Cycle Choice: Select a gentle or hand-wash cycle. Both lyocell and modal benefit from delicate handling to maintain their smooth texture.
- Load Size: Avoid overcrowding the washer. This ensures the garments can move freely and get cleaned effectively without undue stress on the fibers.
- Air Dry: It's best to air dry lyocell and modal fabrics by laying them flat or hanging them up. This helps maintain their shape and prevent wrinkles.
- Avoid Heat: High heat from a dryer can damage these fibers. If you must use a dryer, choose a low heat setting and remove the garments while they're slightly damp.
Tips and Tricks:
- Stain Removal: For stains, gently blot with cold water mixed with a bit of mild detergent. Rubbing can damage the delicate fibers.
- Ironing: If needed, iron on a low heat setting. Use a pressing cloth to protect the fabric, especially for lyocell, which can be prone to scorching.
- Storage: Store these garments in a cool, dry place. Fold them gently to avoid harsh creases, as both fabrics can retain wrinkles.
- Refreshing the Fabric: Both lyocell and modal are known for their breathability and moisture-wicking properties. Simply airing them out can freshen them up effectively between washes.
At OAT & OCHRE, we're passionate about offering classic wardrobe essentials crafted from the highest quality fabrics. For a selection of these durable, timeless items, you're welcome to browse our collection here. Discover clothes that you'll love today and value for years to come.
All the best,