The Fashion Folder: Fresh from the Wash

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

By Roxy Rowton

Like many rooms in today’s modern home, the laundry room has undergone a dramatic makeover. Not so long ago this pragmatic but vital household task was consigned to a small room or shared a compact space with other routine domestic chores. Today’s modern laundry room with its bright, airy space and equipment designed with up-to-the-minute conveniences, makes the task of clothes-keeping simpler and more enjoyable.

Many of the clothing items in our wardrobes are machine washable and dryer safe. However, there isn’t anything more disappointing to a fashionista than to pull from the washing machine or dryer a favorite piece of clothing that has been ruined because of improper laundering. For clothing sold within the U.S., manufacturers are required to include a care tag that provides general information about the method of care. But is this the only method or the safest way to care for our garments?

A good grasp of basic clothes-keeping practices is a fashionista’s first line of protection against laundry mishaps. The fine art of laundry includes familiarity with fabric identification, colorfastness, stain treatment, laundry detergent, water temperature and machine agitation. The fabric and color of a garment are key factors to determine the desirable or appropriate laundering method.

Begin the laundry by sorting the wardrobe into color categories of whites, brights, and darks; followed by separation into categories of heavy, light and delicate before washing. While sorting, empty pockets, unroll cuffs, button buttons, zip zippers, tie drawstrings, and snap snaps to prevent garments from twisting or tangling during the wash process or other mishaps. Tackle any spots, spills or stains before laundering. There is no one product or technique that’s ideal for the treatment of stains. Keep a fabric care glossary close at hand for a reference to pre-treating stains. Finally, clothes are ready for washing. Reference the fabric and color to determine the correct water temperature and agitation for the wash/spin cycle.

When the wash cycle is completed, tumble dry or air dry garments. Shrinkage, color fading and fiber breakdown are caused by heat—whether the heat source is from hot water during washing or the dryer. Clothes should tumble dry on a medium to low setting in the dryer. Delicate garments are better served by air drying or at minimum using a “cool air only” cycle on the dryer. Any garment that can be tumble-dried can also be hung to dry on a clothesline outdoors or a drying rack in the laundry room. This is a kinder, gentler method of clothes-keeping.

A few words about hand-washing versus dry cleaning: According to, 90 percent of garments labeled “dry clean only” can be washed at home. Many garment manufacturers label the care tag “dry clean only” because it reduces the risk of a ruined or damaged clothing item because of improper at-home laundering methods. Contrary to care tags that recommend “dry care only,” many fabrics from gauzy linens to delicate silks and woolens can be laundered by hand washing or machine washing on a delicate or woolen cycle. However, there are a small quantity of garments that should not washed by machine or hand. (Suiting, leather, suede, acetate, and fur are better left in the care of professional dry cleaners.)

Mastery in the fine art of laundry ensures garments smell fresher, retain color better, and hold shape longer. Good practices of clothes-keeping help ensure the wardrobe of the fashionista or pragmatist looking and wearing at its best.

Wardrobe and style consultant Roxy L. Rowton ( spends much of her workweek in the closet or the fitting room helping women look and feel their very best. She has two-plus decades in the fashion, apparel, and beauty industries. 


Comments are closed.