Laundering and Ironing Your Clothes
Most clothing these days use colorfast dyes. This means that when they're washed, the colors don't run. Over time, however, if not properly taken care of, the color of fabrics will fade. Likewise, most clothing made from cotton comes preshrunk. This means that they can be placed in the dryer and not shrink. There are, however, many exceptions to these rules, so be sure to read the labels on each garment carefully before washing it for the first time.
The following are the basic steps involved in successfully washing a load of laundry using a traditional washer and dryer with off-the-shelf detergent:
Read the care labels on each garment and follow the directions.
Separate your clothing by color and fabric types, washing like items together.
Empty all pockets!
Turn down the cuffs of pants and shirts.
Turn jeans inside out to reduce fading.
Close all zippers, snaps, and hooks.
On the washing machine, set the load size.
Select the cycle type on the washer.
Choose the appropriate water temperature on the washer (hot, warm, or cold).
Determine the best laundry detergent, fabric softener, and bleach for the job, and then mix the appropriate amount into the washer when the directions on the detergent say to do so.
Deal with badly stained clothing separately. This may involve using a special detergent and/or allowing the stained garment to soak before putting it through a normal wash.
When the washer cycle is complete, remove the garments promptly. Place each garment in the dryer (if appropriate), keeping in mind that some types of garments need to be line dried and shouldn't be exposed to the high temperature of a dryer.
To minimize wrinkling, as soon as the dryer finishes, remove the garments immediately. You may then choose to iron certain garments to completely eliminate wrinkles.
Stains are almost impossible to avoid if you live a normal lifestyle, especially if you have kids. Food, drinks, dirt, blood, grass, ink, motor oils, grease, makeup, wine, rust, chewing gum, nail polish, perspiration, and deodorants and antiperspirants are all common causes of stains you'll have to contend with sooner or later. The good news is that if you approach each stain in an organized and calm manner, you should be able to make it disappear with relative ease.
Based on the type of stain and its severity, you may choose to have a garment professionally cleaned. You can also try pretreating, presoaking, bleaching, or prewashing the garment, depending on the type of fabric and what caused the stain. Washing the stained garment in the appropriate water temperature and using the strongest possible detergent or stain remover will also help your battle against even the toughest of stains.
In the vintage book
As soon as a stain is created, take these steps:
Sponge stains promptly with cool water to prevent the stain from setting.
Always test your stain-removal agent on a hidden part of the garment first, to check for colorfastness.
Before laundering, pretreat stained articles with a liquid detergent. Remember, washing and drying without any pretreatment can set some stains.
Air-dry treated and washed items. Some residual stains are not visible when wet, and heat from the dryer could set them, making them tougher or impossible to get rid of.
Follow all safety precautions on stain-removal product labels.
Many stains will decrease if you apply undiluted liquid laundry detergent (such as Liquid Tide with Bleach Alternative), undiluted liquid dishwashing detergent (such as Dawn), or suds from an Ivory soap bar directly on the stained area. Launder immediately.
For deep-set soils, old stains, extensive staining, or protein stains such as blood, grass, or urine, presoak the garment. For a maximum of thirty minutes, soak stained items in a plastic bucket or laundry tub with the warmest water safe for the fabric and a good heavy-duty laundry detergent. Bleach-sensitive stains, such as fruit juice or drink mixes, should be rinsed in cold water, and then washed with a nonchlorine bleach product. If stains remain, colorfast items may be laundered with colorfast bleach, and bleachable items may be laundered with chlorine bleach.
Set up the ironing board at the right height, appropriate to whether you're sitting or standing. You should be able to place your hand on the board without bending your arm (extended downward) or your back. Adjusting the ironing board to the correct height will reduce muscle fatigue.
Be sure to correctly adjust the temperature of your iron prior to getting started. Begin by consulting labels for manufacturers' suggestions, especially when ironing dry clothes. For example, when ironing blended fabrics, use the setting for the lowest-temperature fabric in the blend. Most fabrics can be ironed using the steam setting.
Start ironing each garment in the middle and work your way outward. There's no need to press too hard, especially when using steam.
Be sure to use extra care with certain types of fabrics. For example, all silks should be ironed on the reverse side. Cultivated silks should be ironed when evenly damp, but should not be sprayed because they may spot; raw silks should be ironed when dry. Velvet, acrylics, corduroy, embroidered pieces, and synthetic leathers should also be pressed from the reverse side with a clean towel or blanket on the ironing board. This will prevent these materials from ending up with an unwanted sheen.
Whenever you're ironing clothes with unique fabrics, save yourself time by sorting the garments and then starting with synthetics that call for the coolest settings. By working your way up to high-temperature cottons, you'll avoid scorching and having to wait for your iron to cool down, which takes a lot longer than heating up.
When using the heat of an iron, more is not always better. Be sure to use the right temperature for each of your garments. An overheated iron is the quickest way to make your clothes go from clean to crispy. Synthetics and silks react best to low or medium temperatures. Cottons and linens react best to the iron's highest temperatures. Wools respond best to medium or high.