How to care for your tyke's clothing and keep it in top condition for resale
Buying quality items, and taking proper care of them is simply the smartest way to clothe your tykes! Here is our guide to naturally caring for your children's clothes to extend the useful life of the garments well beyond the time your tyke is wearing them, and keep them in top condition for resale.
How to read washing symbols
Understanding the care label (found at the seam of your garments) is key to giving your clothes the best care. The manufacturer is telling you how they think the garment should be washed, so consider it your cheat sheet for keeping your items in good nick.
The wash symbol lets you know if the garment can be machine or hand washed, or not at all.
A cross through the wash symbol means that the manufacturer recommends you never wash this garment. If you see this symbol when you are shopping, consider if you want to buy this garment at all, especially for children’s clothes that require more frequent cleaning.
The temperature listed (with dots, or a written number) is your guide for the highest temperature that garment should be washed at. Only use 60 degrees for bed sheets, or white items. Never use a temperature that high for coloured clothing as it will fade them out. As much as possible, it is best to use a cold setting to preserve colours and fabrics.
For children’s clothes especially, it is a good idea to consider switching to a natural detergent. Regular detergents contain lots of chemical nasties that leave a residue on your clothing, causing skin irritation and rashes for some people.
Switching to a natural detergent is not only the best for you and your tyke’s health, but also better for the environment as the chemicals in the detergent you use will ultimately be washed into our waterways, causing problems for fish and plant life. If you are unsure of where to start, visit june.xyz for a great range of effective laundry detergents and cleaners without the heavy chemicals.
- Wash like colours as much as possible to avoid darker colours muting brighter colours.
- For delicate items, use a mesh bag to give them extra protection in the wash. You can wash hard and soft fibres together if you keep your soft, delicate items together in a mesh bag.
- Always turn clothing with hardware inside out to stop it from damaging your other items in the wash.
Try not to wash wool and silk too often. These fabrics don’t need it (unless you have a stain) and there are other ways to cleanse them before your next wear. Instead of washing, hang them to air in the breeze and give them a shake if they are smelly. Store them with a lavender pillow or sachet (a natural cleanser) which will completely remove any smells from the garment.
Only wash wool in cold water, no matter what the care instructions tell you!
If you have ever experienced washing a wool sweater in warm water you will know that it can shrink a few sizes and become very hard. This is because water, plus heat, plus movement makes wool turn into felt, so be very careful.
When you see this symbol it means the item can be bleached. With a cross through you should never attempt to bleach. Bleach should only ever be used on whites, so check that your everyday detergent doesn’t contain any bleach as it will fade out your colours.
While bleach is effective, you really shouldn’t need to use such harmful chemicals on your clothing. It is not only bad for the environment to flush chemicals from the machine, but bad for your skin (and your tykes skin). If your whites are coming out blueish, this is a problem with your machine, not the garment. Check the filter and clean out any remnants from old washes. This is what is colouring your garments.
To naturally keep your whites white, treat stains with a mix of vinegar and water directly on the stain and let it soak in before washing. When the weather allows, air dry your whites in the sun as the sun naturally bleaches the fabric. Avoid drying your coloured garments in direct sunlight for this reason.
When you see this symbol it means you can use a tumble dryer to dry this item. Even if the symbol isn’t crossed out, no clothes actually like to be tumble dried. It is damaging to the fibres and the seams of the garment and therefore has a direct impact on the life expectancy of your clothes. If you must, the cooler and more gentle the setting the better. The tag will tell you how hot or cool a temperature to use.
This symbol will let you know whether an item can be ironed. There is no rule for what can and can’t be ironed, both natural and synthetic fabrics should be safe to iron. Just use the guide on the tag for what temperature to use. Embellishments and prints are best not to iron as they can melt or fade.
This symbol will let you know if the item can be dry cleaned. Dry cleaning is toxic for your garments and you (and your tykes) so try and avoid a trip to the drycleaners where possible. Special occasion outfits, jackets and knits really only need to be cleaned once a season. If they are smelly, try our natural care hack below. If only part of the garment has been soiled, try spot cleaning that area rather than cleaning the entire garment.
Natural care hacks for your tykes clothing
To naturally kill the smell in very smelly clothing ie sport shoes, seal the item into a plastic bag and place it in the freezer. It is important to make sure the bag is completely sealed so the item only gets cold, not wet. Leave for a few days for the cold to kill all of the bacteria.
Lavender is a natural disinfectant. Store your clothing between seasons with a pillow of fresh (dried) lavender to keep them from discolouring and to discourage bacteria from growing, and use a fabric bag (not plastic) so the items can breath. Plastic harbours humidity which can be a problem in tropical climates.
Wool is prone to pilling, and can look worn quickly without the proper maintenance. To remove the pills and freshen up your knitwear, take a normal razor and shave the pills from the garment. Good as new!
How to remove stains from clothes without harsh chemicals
Even the hardest stains to remove can be lifted with these clever natural cleaning hacks.
- How to remove grass stains. Make a solution of one part vinegar and two parts water and work into the stain with a soft brush. Use an enzyme based laundry detergent to wash (it breaks down the proteins and lifts the stain from the garment).
- How to remove ink stains. Cover the stain with a normal household toothpaste, and then wash the garment as normal. Don't let the toothpaste dry on the garment before washing.
- How to remove food stains, like ketchup, soy sauce and pasta sauce. Apply your dish washing soap to the stain and massage with a soft brush if the fabric isn't too delicate. Wash as normal before the soap has dried.
- How to remove blood stains. Use a normal household bar of soap to rub the stain, then wash as normal.
- Try Spot Gone Stick, a natural stain removal soap stick available at Plastic Free Hong Kong made from palm oil and lemon oil.
Do you have any natural cleaning hacks for caring for your tykes clothing? Share them with us by leaving them a comment on our Facebook or Instagram post about this article.
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