Washing kids clothes should be simple. That’s why I like to sew with fabrics that aren’t fussy so you can wash with ease and they lower impact on the environment too. Generally, all of the fabrics I try to use both for myself personally and in my shops can be washed in cold water with phosphate free detergent, tumbled dry with low heat or hung to dry outside in the shade.
Many of the fabrics in my shop are organic cotton and will soften wonderfully over time so no need for chemical softeners! The low impact dyes are friendlier to our planet though they will fade slightly over time. If you like the softened vintage look of the colours great! Keep washing as usual. If you like vibrant brand spanking new colours I have some tips to help keep them that way and withstand repeated washing.
If you have been sewing for any amount of time, you’re likely familiar with the dilemma of whether or not to prewash your fabric. In addition to getting any shrinkage out of the way before sewing, pre-washing is great way to set colours and minimize bleeding. Prewashing can be achieved with normal wash settings, with or without detergent and tumble dry on low or medium heat. As for ironing, it’s really not necessary to press most fabrics if you pull them out immediately and give a good shake and lay or fold flat. I even find taking my stuff out before completely dried saves me ironing. Although if you are adamant about crisp clothes it’s fine to use regular cotton settings with steam. I usually have my iron set to the hottest setting (cotton or linen) for everything without issues.
Keep in mind it does help to use more water (or wash in smaller loads). More water means clothing has more room to slosh around, less friction and the wash cycle will be gentler on natural fibers. Turning clothes inside out also helps. Below are a few more tricks to extend the vibrancy of printed fabrics.
Salt: Save the expensive pink Himalayan salt for cooking iodized table salt will do. The chloride in salt will help seal the colour to prevent fading. You can use this method with new fabric or finished garments to help retain their color. Keep a jar of salt next to your washer and toss in a spoonful with the rinse cycle. Some even say that salt can actually help restore the brightness of dull pieces.
Cold water: Washing your fabric in cold water not only keeps money in your pocket but it can also aid in preserving bright colours.
Vinegar: Not only are your fabrics not going to fade but you are also going to get a clean washer. Add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle. The vinegar with freshen up the fabric and help the colors maintain their vibrancy. Before the first wash you can also soak your dark fabrics in water mixed with 1/2 cup of vinegar and a couple teaspoons of salt to help set the dyes.
Baking soda: Oh this stuff is magical and cheap! With so many uses throughout the house you’ll wonder why you had a cupboard filled with chemicals and artificial scented cleaners. I keep a box of baking soda in every bathroom as well as a jug of vinegar. So add a box to your laundry room. Add 1/2 cup to your wash cycle and give it a spin and help your fabrics maintain their brightness. For stains wet the garment with cold water and sprinkle the soda directly onto stained areas. Wait a couple hours and gently rub baking soda into the garment with more water and then throw in the wash as usual. When I tried this the whites in the print appeared bright as new!
Alcohol: DOES NOT WORK! Whiskey belongs in an Old Fashioned and not on your kids’ clothes! We heard from somewhere that alcohol is the secret to removing stains, well, they were wrong! It didn’t do anything. There may be times when it works or on certains types of fabric but I tried on my son’s shirt and it did actually remove the stain but it removed the colour and print as well it looks almost like a bleach spot. I may still try this trick but honestly why waste good alcohol.
Who knew that simple household basics could be so useful in the laundry room.So have a look through your cabinets and toss away (carefully) those harsh chemicals and stock up on some jugs of vinegar and boxes of baking soda and put some money back in the bank.
What kind of environmentally products do you use in your house? Any other laundry or stain removal tricks please feel free to share.