Tips

How to: Care for your unique fabrics

Don't let confusing instructions put you off buying delicate garments. It's easy enough to look after them well once you know how to do it
 

Photo: Showbit

We love the fact that not only are clothes available in all shapes, sizes, colours and designs, they also come in various fabrics that make them (and us) feel extra special.

Laundry labels or instructions from the brand/store should be your first point of reference to answer your questions when it comes to washing, ironing or storing your items of clothing. But it always helps to have a bit of background info where such fabrics are concerned.

You might be new to fancy fabrics or you might have had an unfortunate 'accident' in the past with a precious item of clothing. Whatever the case, here's a guide to caring for your unique fabrics.

 

Silk

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Washing: One of the most delicate types of clothing, this material deserves special attention. Some silk items have laundry labels that say it can go into a washing machine (use a 'delicates' wash if doing so) but it's always best to wash them by hand. Don't soak them though, hand wash in cold water and use a mild detergent (or baby shampoo). If the laundry label says 'dry-clean only', follow the instructions as this means that the item may contain patterns or dyes that could be ruined by washing.

Drying: Don't twist dry silk items, spread it flat on a towel and gently blot to get all the moisture out. Then air dry it. Don't expose it to direct sunlight as it could change the colour of your clothing. And never put it in a tumble dryer.

Ironing: Do this with a warm iron, while the item is still damp.

Storage: Hang them in your closet on hangers that won't let them slip off easily.

 

Velvet

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Washing: Whether a velvet item of clothing should be dry-cleaned or machine washed depends on the type of fabric used. For example, fine velvet with plain weave should be dry-cleaned but crushed velvet can be put into a washing machine (turn clothes inside out before putting them in). If in doubt – or if it's an item of clothing that's precious to you – take it to a dry cleaner.

Drying: Hang it to dry on a soft, padded hanger. Don't hang it on a laundry line as it could leave a mark on the fabric.

Ironing: Do not iron velvet clothing. Creases can be removed by placing the item on a clothes hanger and either placing it in a steamy bathroom or using a steamer or an iron on 'steam' setting. Keep your steamer or iron at least 10cm from your clothing.

Storage: Never fold your velvet garments as this may leave lines. If you have to fold it due to lack of space, place soft tissue in the middle of the folds. Use padded hangers for velvet clothes.

 

ALSO READ: WHAT TO WEAR TO WORK: COLOURS TO MAKE YOU FEEL LESS STRESSED

 

Leather

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Washing: Get it dry-cleaned if possible, especially if the label says so. If washing at home, hand wash it in warm water, with mild soap or baby shampoo.

Drying: Gently squeeze the water out but do not wring it as it will cause creases.

Ironing: Leather generally doesn't need to be ironed but if you're bothered by some wrinkles, hang it in a steamy bathroom for about 15 minutes. You could also iron it very carefully, by placing a cotton or linen pillowcase over the creased area and gently pressing a warm iron over it for a few seconds.

Storage: Store leather clothing on wide wooden, plastic or padded hangers (avoid metal ones) so as to maintain its shape. Make sure there's sufficient ventilation to lower the chances of moulding.

 

Organza

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Washing: Organza is more hardy than it looks. You can wash it by hand if you prefer (just don't wring it after) but it's okay to put it in a washing machine. Put your machine on a cool to warm setting and be careful not to wash it with other items that have zips or hooks that can get caught on the organza.

Drying: Leave it out flat to air dry but keep it away from direct heat. You can also put it in a tumble dryer, on a low heat setting. Organza creates more static electricity than most other fabrics so put a dryer sheet in too. Try to smooth the creases as much as possible before it completely dries, so as to avoid much ironing.

Ironing: Put your iron on a low heat setting and don't keep the iron on one spot for too long. If you don't want to take the risk of burning it, hang your clothing in a steamy bathroom, this will clear out the creases.

Storage: Because organza can get easily caught in things like hangers and zips from other clothes, it's best to store your garment folded and put away in a drawer or box. Place white tissue paper between the folds to protect it from creasing. Don't ever put it in a plastic bag as this could cause mould.   

 

Sequins

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Washing: This would depend on the material of your garment, what percentage of it is covered in sequins and whether the sequins are attached with thread or glue. Use the laundry label as a general guide as sequinned clothes can be washed by hand/machine or dry clean only. If you're hand washing it, use cool water and a mild detergent and turn the garment inside out so as not to damage the sequins. Do not scrub harshly or wring tightly as the sequins could break. Turn garment inside out for a machine wash too, and place it in a lingerie bag, for further protection. Wash on a gentle cycle with cold water and a mild detergent. Also make sure the spin cycle is at its lowest, to avoid damage to sequins.

Drying: Never use a dryer as the sequins or glue could melt. Air dry it instead; heavy garments are best dried flat.

Ironing: Never iron clothes with sequins either, as the heat could melt them. Use a steamer or hang them in a steamy bathroom for half an hour.

Storage: Sequins could snag onto other items of clothing so it's best to wrap the garment in tissue and store them separately. You can place it on a hanger but if it's a piece of knitwear, it's best to fold it.

 

Suede

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Washing: Real suede isn't washable and should always be taken to a professional to be cleaned. Invest in a suede brush if you have many items of clothing in this material as it's easy to remove stains with it. However, if your garment is made from imitation suede (the synthetic kind), it can typically be placed in a machine, to be washed with other clothes, on a cold setting. Check the care label to be sure.

Drying: Air dry your suede garments on a flat surface.

Ironing: Turn the garment inside out and place a cotton sheet or towel over the creased area before you iron it on a not-to-hot setting. If you're afraid you might damage it, try the steam iron or steamy bathroom trick instead.

Storage: Keep suede items in a dark place as colours could fade quickly otherwise. Make sure it's dry too, to avoid mildew. Never store this fabric in plastic as it may cause suede to dry out and crack.

 

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