I’ve always tried following the directions on the tags on my clothes, (“medium wash, low dry;” “medium wash, medium dry;” etc.) but I’ve had people tell me that it doesn’t really matter how I wash my clothes as long as I don’t mix colors with whites or use too much bleach or both. And most clothing can be safely dried on high heat. People have even told me that, “They put those tags on to cover their asses. If your clothes fall apart in the wash, they can say it’s your fault because you didn’t follow directions.” (Which sounds to me like paranoia. It also sounds to me like I OUGHT to follow the directions!) Another argument is that the clothing manufacturers don’t really know how to wash the clothes they make, an argument I find silly. (Sometimes, I think the person is just trying to get me to give up my washer sooner so he can do his laundry.)
I’m satisfied with the way my clothes come clean, but I wonder if I couldn’t take less care and get the same results.
Yes, we do know how to launder the clothes that we make. But, in some cases you can wash or dry clothing on temps other than the recommended one. Is it good for the clothes? Well, there are fabrics that will shrink and dyes that will fade significantly if they are not dry cleaned or washed in cold water. If you want to keep your clothes the same color, I recommend laundering according to the directions.
We do test our fabrics before garments are made from them-most retail businesses require fairly stringent tests. That means that the fabric and dye is tested to hold up under the recommended instructions. If you vary from those, you take your chances.
Well I am laundry rebel. I wash everything (darks, whites, whatever) in a single load. I wash everything on cold and dry everything on warm…even if it says hand wash only.
Granted, I can get away with these things because all my clothes are from thrift stores. If something happened it wouldn’t really matter. That said, I am yet to have any problems with my current way of washing clothes. No running colors, no shrinkage, nothing.
If you want to risk it is up to you. The cost for me to replace a couple pieces of thrift store clothing is less than the cost of me doing several different loads at the Worlds Most Expensive Laundromat (can you believe a quarter buys you only six minutes on the dryer here?). If you are really concerned about your clothes, follow the directions, but if you just want them clean and quick, do whatever you want.
I have done a lot of sewing, so taking care of the clothing I make is important. But I find that a little latitude is allowed in the care and washing of some items.
Some of the “dry clean only” fabrics (like some rayons) can be hand washed cold, dry flat (not machine dry). Sometimes they can be air dried in the dryer, with no heat.
On more delicate fabrics (usually seen in the “dressy” clothes) you will shorten the life of the garment (if not ruin it) if you stick it in hot wash, hot dryer. So do take the clothing tag’s instructions seriously on such types of garments.
Loose-fitting jeans and t-shirts, (or cotton/cotton-blend shirts and pants) are usually far more forgiving, and will be more apt to take any washing abuse you dole out.
I, personally, prefer to air-dry anything with elastic in it, such as lingerie and swimwear. The items will last longer, assuming that the cat doesn’t decide to kill the laundry (always a possibility in our household). Using a clothes dryer will shorten the useful life of your clothes. You have to decide whether or not you want to kill your back hanging up all your laundry, or wearing out your clothes quicker.
For my work clothes, I wash in warm water, permanent press, cold rinse. I dry for 20 minutes on warm till the clothes are just moist, then I line dry. For delicates and silks, I place items in net bag, wash on delicate and line dry. For bed sheets and towels, I wash in hot wate with bleach and place in the dryer till just dry on hot. The dryer destroys nice clothing, but I am willing to use it on the towels and sheets. This treatment shortens their lives but seems to make them softer and more absorbent. I only dry clean coats, jackets and other items that clearly don’t belong in a washer or dryer.