Not sure whether to hand wash, machine wash or dry clean your favorite clothes? Here are some valuable tips in choosing which option is best in any given situation:

Read the labels that come attached with your clothes- they often contain washing instructions that works best of the material used. The clothing brand manufacturer knows its fabrics best, and the instructions in that small label will teach you how to best take care of your clothing. A “dry clean only” label is just that, while “dry clean” is not strict in a way that it can still be hand-washed at times. A big “X” basically means a no-no, such as keeping it away from a spin cycle by all means. An “air dry only” tag means it is not advisable to put it spinning and tumbling in the dryer.

A hand wash is worlds apart from a machine wash in terms of caring for your clothes. Even on gentle settings and cycles, your clothes are more prone to snagging, stretching and agitation. There are also certain advantages when using machine washes, and they will be covered in the sections below.

Hand Wash When:
You don’t want to risk your favorite and delicate clothes a cycle in the washing machine. Fragile fabrics like silk and cashmere, those that come in solid colors, and those that are labeled “hand wash only”. Fill a clean basin with lukewarm water while adding in a mild detergent. Put in your garments and swish them about for a good five minutes. Don’t rub and scrub vigorously with a brush or hand, as a gentle kneading will work just fine. Hand washing extends your clothes’ life but not all of us have the extra time.

Machine Wash When:
You are pressed for time, and the clothes’ labels tell you “hand wash” but not “hand wash only”. Always use the delicate settings when operating the washing machine, and follow the recommended temperature for best results. You may put them in thin washing bags to further prevent snagging or tearing. Be sure to separate the whites and keep the similarly-colored ones together. Finally, do not overload the machine, as what you want to simulate are the gentle swishings that a hand wash can do.

Dry Clean When:
You cannot decide whether to hand wash or machine wash, and don’t have the time nor the effort to get your clothing clean. Dry clean when the label says “dry clean only”. You can bring it down to professional Winter Park dry cleaners and they will be happy to dry clean it for you. Special fabrics like tafetta, velvet or Dupioni silk degrade and lose their superb quality if not dry cleaned.

Also, it is important to know when its best to fold vs hang clothing. Here are some general guidelines:

Collared Shirts, as they wrinkle easily. Dress pants to air them out and reduce wrinkles. Suits, as they should never be folded unless traveling. Same for Sports coats and Blazers. Jackets and rainwear should also be hung to dry them out quickly. Belts and ties should also be hung. Light garments, blouses and bathrobes are made for hanging. Dresses, as they also easily wrinkle. Silks, taffetas, chiffons and velvets all belong to this category, and anything made of cotton, linen or rayon as well.

Small items such as socks, underwear and shorts. Polo and long-sleeved shirts should be folded, and casual everyday clothing like warm-ups and sweatshirts. Sweaters, knitwear, cotton t-shirts can stay perfectly okay if you fold them. Scarves, casual pants, some jeans and fleece belong to the folded department.

Some additional useful tips for laundry:

  • Keep your whites the whitest by soaking in 4 liters of water and about 180g soda bicarbonate. Put in about 5 aspirin tablets and 240 ml of white vinegar to the rinse cycle.
  • Eliminate unpleasant odor by adding a half cup of baking soda to 1 gallon water and soak for a couple of hours. Complete the process by putting in half a cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle.
  • Add mouthwash in a measurement of half a cup to an empty washing machine to disinfect it.
  • Bring back cotton from aging and becoming yellowish by mixing 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup salt in a gallon of boiling water. Put in the yellowed clothes and wait for an hour.