Down and winter coats
Care and storage of winter coats is especially important if we want them to keep their original feel, fit, and warmth for several years. “I always recommend washing coats by themselves—don’t forget to empty the pockets and zip up all the zippers,” says Jody Schwartz, president of Free Country, a popular outerwear brand. “Down and other winter coats can go in the dryer, but be sure to follow the instructions on the tag.” Any sort of fur trim should be removed before drying so it doesn’t melt or get matted, and save your money on dryer sheets, she adds, because the fabric is likely already finished with fabric conditioners.
Schwartz’s favorite tip is to add a tennis ball or two to the dryer (one of our favorite additions to the mind-blowing laundry facts list) to help keep the quilted, padded, and stuffed parts of your coat fluffy and as close to their original condition as possible.
When the weather gets warmer and you’re looking to store your coat for a season or two, clean the outwear, fasten all buttons and zippers to maintain the coat’s shape, and store it in a dry, dark place with cedar blocks to prevent moth damage.
Your 100 percent cotton basics
You can feel good about washing, drying, and wearing your cotton basics like tees, underwear, and socks, but just make sure you don’t mix in garments made of synthetic fibers when you throw them in hot water or a dryer. Natural, plant-based fibers are porous, so heat helps deliver detergents throughout the garment and whisk away odors, dirt, and bacteria. Synthetic fibers are more similar to plastic, and can easily melt and degrade when heat is applied!
“Typically for basics in 100 percent cotton, you can machine wash in warm water with like colors, tumble dry low, and iron if necessary,” says Michael Lubin, vice president of fabric innovation at Delta Galil, a large manufacturer of popular leisurewear brands and undergarments. Here’s what’s critical: While just about any supermarket laundry detergent is fine for cotton basics, fabric softener isn’t necessary, as most fabrics are finished with industrial softening agents now. Most cotton basics do best when gently folded and stored on shelves or in drawers versus being hung. You can also use this pantry item to deodorize your cotton clothes in a cinch.
Baby and children’s clothes
First of all, you should be folding all that adorable, little clothing instead of hanging it. Most children’s clothing is made from malleable materials like cotton, fleece, and blends that are easily misshapen by hangers. You don’t want that dreaded shoulder bump look on your little ones, right? Then there are stains—lots of them. “Stains are an everyday occurrence with babies,” says Michael Frey, Dreft brand manager and father of two little ones. “Stains should be pretreated before going in the laundry machine.” Frey also recommends washing all articles of baby clothes (even organic baby clothes) and linens in a baby specific detergent, like Dreft, to remove any dirt, excess fabric dyes, and processing chemicals that can linger on fabrics before they touch baby’s skin.