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The Everyman's Guide To Laundering Every Kind Of Fabric

It's not as simple as wash, rinse, repeat
by Dyan Sheryl Carolino | Jan 13, 2017
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Have you ever asked your mom (or your girl) how to wash a woven sweater or how to iron a crumpled leather jacket. Maybe you’ve turned to the dry cleaners right across the street, just because you weren’t quite sure how to wash those non-cotton pieces properly without damaging the fabric.

In many cases, caring for your clothes is just a matter of knowing the material, and how certain factors like water and heat can destroy them.

Here's a manual that covers everything from caring for clothing according to material, with some bonus laundry hacks.


Cotton is a wardrobe staple for the Filipino man because of the comfort and versatility it offers.

This material can be easily laundered. It may shrink, however, unless the fabric has been processed or pre-shrunk, so always check the care label. If it says “cold water only," your favorite cotton pants may be transformed into capri pants if not washed properly.

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To be safe, machine wash cotton clothes in warm water, and tumble dry low. Use a good detergent and a cool iron.


A natural fiber made from flax, linen can be a tricky material when it comes to washing. That’s because some linens are washable, while others are dry clean only.

The best thing you can do is to check the care label on your linen garments. If it’s machine-washable, wash according to label instructions and recommended water level. Take note that linen absorbs more water than other fibers, so avoid overcrowding in the washer. Iron it from the inside out as well using hot steam.


Acetate is a man-made material, often combined with other fibers to make it flowy and flattering. Most acetate clothes are dry clean only, but some may be handwashed in lukewarm water. It cleans up well, but can be sensitive to color transfer.

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Don’t twist acetate clothes, and iron while fabric is damp, as acetate is a weak fiber and can easily be damaged. Iron inside out using a low-temperature setting and use press cloth to preserve the beauty of the fabric.


Never toss your leather jackets in the washing machine. Leather is meant to be dry cleaned.

The good news? You can iron leather—but not directly. Use a sheet of paper to put on top of the fabric, use the lowest setting, and iron gently. Or better yet, simply hang the jacket for at least 24 hours and let the creases sort themselves out.

As for storage, store your leather clothes in a well ventilated area, and polish regularly with a good quality leather polish. If it has stains, remove the them as soon as possible with a saddle soap, and go to a professional for more serious stains.


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Naturally insulating and incredibly soft, knits are a wardrobe staple especially in the months leading to December. In its natural state, it’s washable, but because many knitted garments like wool incorporate sensitive construction methods, make sure to check the label.

If it’s washable, hand wash in a sink with cold water and use a gentle detergent. Always air-dry, and for storage, lay flat or fold, as hangers will destroy its shape.

One common problem with knits is snags. If you see one, resist the urge to snip that thing off as this will only create a hole. Instead, turn the clothing inside out and maneuver the thread back into place.


Spandex is another man-made fiber. It's elastic, which means it can be stretched many times its length and still spring back to the original length.

This clothing material is relatively easy to care for. But while it is hand and machine-washable, avoid hot water and chlorine bleach. Heat will only cause the fabric to bubble or pucker. Use warm water and line dry, unless care labels provider otherwise.

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If ironing is necessary, just press the clothing quickly with a warm iron.


The beauty of denim is that it looks better after you wear it a few times—but it’s still destructible.

To make it last, don’t wash new denim in the first four months; after the fourth month, wash it as little as possible. If you’re grossed out, pop the piece in the freezer in the meantime to kill any bacteria.

Wash in cold water, too, and use a tiny amount of detergent. Or better yet, wash by hand. It won’t be easy, but you’ll be wearing your favorite pair of denim pants much longer because of it.

Other Clothing Care Tips

Read the label
That tag down the side of your shirt or at the back of the neck isn’t there for decoration. It gives the laundering instructions—don’t ignore it or you’ll end up ruining your clothes.

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Rotate clothes
Treat your simple shirts and even pambahays as you would a custom suit—don’t wear the same piece nearly everyday so they’ll last longer.

Start with quality
It’s always a good idea to start buying quality clothes. By spending more on staple quality pieces, you create a solid wardrobe with longevity in mind.

Repair clothes and treat stains ASAP
Never let a lose thread, a small hole, or a stain sit. Acting right a way can make the difference between clothes that last long and a piece of fabric you’ll only turn into a rug later on.

Keep yourself clean
If you’re dirty, naturally, your clothes will be dirty. If you sweat all the time, your clothes will get sweat stains. Sure, you can live life to the fullest, but if you’re going trekking, don’t do it in your favorite shirt. 

We usually talk about being stylish and wearing clothes like a boss, but it’s also important to know how to take care of the clothes we wear. Style, fashion, and grooming all fall into place if the things you’re wearing are clean and well taken care of.

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