Reading the signs

What the signs in your clothes really mean – and when you can ignore them.

You can download an overview and explanations of care symbols here:
Download care symbols in a PDF file

Never mix colours and whites?

Never wash colours with whites – do I have to stick to this rule?

For brand new clothes, this is a good rule to stick to. However, if you have a coloured garment and have washed it many times, you can get away with sneaking it into your white wash. This is best done on a lower temperature and should only be attempted with garments that have been washed countless times.

Wash at 30: really?

Washing at thirty is good for the environment and good for delicates but sometimes very dirty clothes might benefit from a bit more ‘oomph’ when being washed. Silk, satin, lace and cashmere all need to stay at 30 degrees, so if you feel they aren’t getting clean enough, why not soak them in a mixture of cool water and detergent before washing them as normal? Again, those cotton-mixes can take the occasionally bit of mistreatment and will survive the odd warm wash.

No tumble dryer?

If I’m in a hurry, can I tumble dry items that say ‘do not tumble dry’?

Maybe . . ., but exercise caution. Many garments are made from a mix of cotton and elastane, and the label states they should not be tumbled dried. However, putting them into the tumble dryer on a low, low heat and taking them out just before they are completely dry, is usually safe. It can help to give them a quick stretch as they come out to make sure they retain their size. But don't even think about doing this with wool, denim or cashmere - unless you’d like your clothes two sizes smaller.

Dry clean only?

Does dry clean only always mean dry clean only?

Ignore this one at your peril! But if there is an item that desperately needs cleaning and there’s no time to get it dry cleaned, you can consider sponging with cool water and a tiny bit of detergent, or even ironing on the reverse with a very cool iron to freshen the look up. There are also freshening sprays like Febreeze, but always, always test these out on an inside hem of a dry-clean only garment first.

The right iron

The right iron

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