Being a lifelong t-shirt fanatic, I love purchasing or receiving a new t-shirt and I wear them all the time. This means frequent washing. Nothing saddens me more than when a beloved tee becomes worn and faded. So I do everything in my power to keep my tees at their best for as long as possible. Here are a few personal tips I’ve learned along the way and how I care for my tees (and other clothing items I’m fond of) to make sure they last as long as possible.
Less is more. A 100% cotton or cotton blend t-shirt should only be washed only when needed. Quality cotton is very durable but every wash stresses the natural fibers which, in turn, accelerates the aging process.
Even though quality cotton is quite robust, every wash causes stress to its natural fibers and ultimately leads to faster ageing and fading of your Tee. Therefore, simply washing less is probably one of the most important tips to prolong the life of your favorite tee.
Hey, another plus to less wash is the environmental impact! Less washing means conserving our precious fresh water and depositing less detergent into lakes and rivers all while cutting down on energy consumption! Look at you thinking green!
wash with similar colors
Remember when mom was teaching you the how to's of laundry? Separating the whites from the darks and colors, which if you’re anything like me you ignored for many years. It’s inevitable that colors will bleed a bit into wash water; by keeping your whites and colors separate you keep your whites white and colors vibrant!
Your new t-shirt is not a fan of heat, which can cause the fabric to shrink and will also be hard on any printing on the shirt. It’s not hard to find cold water detergents these days as washing with cold is also better for the environment as it uses less energy. Cold water will be gentle on your new clothing purchase.
wash and dry inside out
Washing and drying inside out protects the outside of the shirt which obviously protects the side of the shirt that you are showing off to others. Personally, I hang my favorite tees to dry to help prolong their life but if you prefer the dryer (your shirt will also shrink a bit even though it’s pre shrunk so size up one if you plan to dry often) dry inside out.
choose the right detergent
There are a lot of choices when it comes to detergent, it is not difficult these days to find detergents which use more natural and biodegradable ingredients that are both gentle on the environment and clothing. These types of detergents use less chemicals and are the gentlest on clothes. Also follow the directions, more is not necessarily better and this is one of those cases. The quality of detergents and their concentration means that you need often use very little to achieve cleanliness, using more than needed exposes your clothes to more of the damaging components in the detergent, and of course remember your detergent ends up in our fresh water.
say no to tumble dry
As mentioned earlier, all cotton products will have natural shrinkage, which generally happens during the drying process. Let's be real, nobody likes shrinkage, so reduce the risk by avoiding a tumble drier and air-dry instead. A t-shirt is best hung to dry. Use a strong, wide hanger to avoid the shirt stretching under its own weight and insert the hanger from the bottom of the tee to protect the integrity of the collar.
Additionally, skipping the dryer has a positive environmental affect as dryers use many times the amount of energy that washing machines use. Also remember, heat is bad for your clothes and will age them faster.
iron inside out
If you iron your tees, then iron inside out. We’ve gone over most of the reasons behind this tip already. Also be careful not to stretch your clothing while ironing.
storing your tees
t-shirts store better folded neatly in a drawer. If you prefer to hang your tees remember, use a strong, wide hanger to avoid the shirt stretching under its own weight and insert the hanger from the bottom of the tee to protect the integrity of the collar.
always treat stains post haste
stains are unfortunate but also inevitable. obviously the longer a stain sits soaked into the fabric the harder it will be to remove, so act quickly. unfortunately, most effective stain removers are by their nature hard on fabric colors and printing on tees. it’s just not a great situation, but the faster you act the greater your success rate will be.
Well there you have it, hopefully these guidelines will help you and your t-shirts enjoy a happy and fulfilling life together! ;)