Once we have purchased a clothing item and worn in once or twice, it will need to be washed and dried in some fashion. Most men don’t know how to do their own laundry because they have their girlfriends or wives do it for them. Guys, every dapper gentleman should know how to do his own laundry regardless. Consider it to be part of your dapper “skill set.” Trust me, you won’t lose your man card over doing laundry. We may all have an outfit that we can “rock,” but if it’s dirty or stained, forget “rocking” it out. It will need to be washed and dried properly.
The next challenge for us is how to properly wash and dry our cloths. All it takes is the wrong cycle and our clothing investment can literally be washed away. This is why we have laundry tags. Every piece of clothing that we purchase comes with a laundry tag. It’s there to help instruct us so we can end up with clean clothes that haven’t shrunk or lost their color. One final word before we dive into terms and definitions. I highly encourage you to view this as a fun activity and investment in protecting your wardrobe and personal style. Don’t get lost in a “boring” perception when reading the following.
Read the Tag. That’s right, that little piece of sown on fabric with symbols holds a lot of power for our clothes. The good news is most tags now have written instructions instead of crazy symbols that seem to need a special agent “decoder” ring to decipher its meaning. Just in case you end up with one of those “pictograph” tags let’s look at what each one means. Also for your benefit, below these terms and symbols I have included a “user friendly” chart to reference to.
- A little three-sided tub is the washer; a square or square with a circle on it is a dryer.
- A symbol with a number inside it is telling you how hot that machine needs to be.
- Three squiggly lines side-by-side means “hot.” When you look at this particular symbol it might be paired with a tub or a little wave symbol, which means “hot water”. Please keep in mind that it is possible for it to be paired with other symbols, but it’s the universal depiction of “heat” and that’s what it’s always going to mean.
- An “X” through anything always means “NO.” For example, when you see an X through the heat symbol means “cold water” or “air only”.
- All the ironing information is represented with an iron shape.
The good news is that most modern tags usually write the instructions out. For example, “WARM WASH ONLY WITH LIKE COLORS” means exactly what it’s stating. Don’t do things that are not found in the instructions.
The Wash Cycles. Pretty much allwashers and dryers will have a chart that shows you what parts of the cycle are what temperatures. Here are couple things to help you along the way.
1. WHITES or LIGHT COLORS. Hot water wash and hot air dry. This is usually the longest wash and dry cycle as well you will have. Use these settings for things like light cotton dress shirts or sturdy, lightly dyed items.
2. COLORS. Warm water wash and hot air dry. This cycle is similar to the WHITES/LIGHT COLORS setting on most household machines. What’s important to understand is a bit of cold water to keep dyes from running and spreading.
3. BRIGHT COLORS. Cold-water wash and warm air-dry. This cycle is intended for heavily dyed clothing. If you use warm water with a WARM cycle your cloths will bleed.
4. PERMANENT PRESS. Hot water on a short cycle and warm air dry. This cycle is intended for treated or blended fabrics.
5. DELICATE. Warm water on a short cycle and a cool air dry. A word of caution: Only use this cycle for items tagged “machine wash delicate”. If you are unsure about the cycle, don’t take the risk on machine washing. Generally some silks, wools, or fragile weaves will be washed in this cycle.
6. WOOL/WOOLENS. A short, cold-water wash and cool air-dry. This is very important when it comes to wool items. The cold water and air will keep the wool from shrinking. Be cautious though when using the spin cycle. Modern machines are powerful enough to actually stretch and damage the hand-knit wools.
O.K. gentlemen. Let’s stop here a minute after reading all of that and take a ten minute break. I encourage you to walk away for the next ten minutes. Give your brain a break from these terms and then return to finishing reading this article. Trust me it will help.
Detergent Labels. Not all detergents are the same. Some are strong but also hard on fragile fabrics. Other detergents are mild but will leave dirt behind on the first wash. Liquid detergents are more expensive than powdered ones, but powdered versions will not dissolve all the way in cool water. You don’t want this happening. Here is an important tip to know: Detergents basically break down into three categories: regular, delicate, and with bleach.
1. Regular detergent comes in a wide variety of scents and brands. Pick one that you like and seems effective.
2. Delicate detergents brands like Woolite, Purex, and ALL are made specifically for non-standard wash loads. These are a big help because they are intended to create a way for you to machine-wash items that you couldn’t wash with regular detergent. The downside of it all is they are more on the mild side and are less effective on tough stains.
Keep this in mind. No matter what detergent you choose to use, be careful because that measuring cup is marked way too high. Did you know that the amount of detergent doesn’t matter much once you get past a pretty small minimum amount? Manufactures wont tell you that. To save money and product, be sure to pour a splash in the machine and it will work.
Gentlemen, I hoped this helped you save your cloths and now this can be added to your “skill set.” I want to hear from you and how this article helped you with your clothing. Tell me what worked for you and what didn’t. Leave your comments and ideas below. If you have any questions feel free to ask by posting in the comment section below. Finally, if you’re reading this blog on a regular basis, consider subscribing to it so it will come right to your email when a new post comes up.