Pal how do I keep my apparel looking as good as the first day I bought it?
Great question! All my first time customers usually receive a care notice with their first order that offers some suggestions. I like framing and hanging my apparel on the wall (Hey I'm a monkey I don't wear clothes that often). I've learned there are 3 things that cause most of the damage when it comes to apparel, the world itself, chemical reactions, and heat. The world happens and we can't control that, so let's concentrate on the next two chemical reactions and heat.
The chemical reactions we are going to deal with are happening when you do the laundry. Our new laundry detergents with all their additives sure do a great job at removing stains and making the clothes smell like a spring meadow, but they are extremely hard on our clothes. Anything with the word bleach in it is an absolute acid to your apparel. It doesn’t matter if it is regular bleach or “color safe” bleach it will attack the artwork and dissolve the edges. Bleach strips a small layer of the fabric fiber off and makes what’s left a little more brittle each time it is washed. That’s why as the apparel gets older it gets thinner and a little stiffer. As it stiffens we tend to add more fabric softener.
Fabric Softeners make your clothes soft by “fluffing” or “puffing” up the fibers in the fabric. This fiber movement breaks the bond it has with the artwork causing the artwork to wear off. Luckily that “distressed” or worn out look is fashionable, because it gives us that sense of vintage or favorite.
The third apparel killer is heat. Heat as we know makes things expand and change states of being. Hot water makes the fiber expand causing the bond between fiber and artwork to be compromised. Throw that compromised bond into a hot dryer and the artwork will literally start to melt off the clothing. Too many times I’ve seen great looking apparel ruined by a dryer using high heat.
So how do we keep our clothes looking great? First of all read the care label. This is the manufacturer’s instruction on how to take care of the clothing. Now turn the garment inside out so your artwork isn’t getting beat up by the washer and everything else in the machine. Wash it in the coolest, gentlest setting, without going over what was recommended, that will allow the garment to be cleaned. Use a mild detergent, the fewer additives the better. When you dry it, use the coolest setting that the fabric can take. This is especially important with the new performance fabrics that are out there. A lot of the moisture wicking products (UnderArmour® gear and other athletic apparel) usually do best by air drying. Follow this advice and your apparel should stay looking great for a very long time.
Have a question for Pal? Email him.
Return to the article archives.