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Washing Your Springtime Garments

by Bill Welles

Of all the household chores we do each day, laundry seems like one of the easiest. You put the clothes in the washer, add a little detergent, press the start button, and let the machine do its thing. It might seem simple enough, but there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to protecting your clothes. 

If you’re not careful, routine washing can take its toll on your fabrics, so it’s important to be aware of the subtleties that produce a perfect load of laundry. There are plenty of tricks to keep your everyday laundry and linens in brand-new condition, but seasonal garments can require a little extra love and care.  

woman holding a stack of clean laundry

Spring is in the Air 

As we enter a new season and anxiously await the arrival of spring, we’re all eager to trade our scarves and flannels for short-sleeve shirts and dresses. Most of our springtime garments have probably been boxed away or kept buried deep in our closet for the winter, so after three long months, it’s about time to throw those clothes in the wash.  

After enough time stored away, our clothing will start to mimic the smell of our closet or dresser drawers. The material absorbs into our fabrics and can leave a lingering odor. If your clothes ever resemble a musty smell like the one at grandma’s house, this is probably why.  

You don’t want to put on your favorite spring outfit for it to smell like mothballs—instead, run a quick wash cycle so your clothes can be fresh and clean for the new season. Follow along for these simple yet effective tips for washing springtime garments.  

Keeping Whites White 

Luckily, spring is the time we get to wear white again, but if you’re wearing white as often as you can before Labor Day, you’re bound to end up with a few stains along the way. The main cause for whites turning a gray or yellowish hue is not sorting them correctly before starting the wash. People tend to have fewer white clothing items to wash, so they casually toss them in with the rest of their colored garments.  

Unfortunately, some of the most common and popular fabric types aren't colorfast, so their dyes end up in the wash bin and settle on other lighter-colored fabrics. Cotton is the biggest culprit of this, which is why it’s important to wash certain items inside out or sort the items that should be washed separately.  

If you’re washing a white springtime blouse or pair of pants, running a cycle with heavily soiled items like gym clothes or old bedsheets can leave your fresh clothing looking dull and dingy. It will require more detergent than you’d normally use because the dirt particles, dyes, and perspiration can bleed into your white fabrics much easier.  

woman wearing all white

What to Do 

Always wash whites separately. To retain the color and keep your whites looking new, it’s best to wash white items together on a warm or hot wash cycle. Choose a detergent with a bleach alternative and increase the cleaning power of the detergent by adding a laundry booster like borax, baking soda, or distilled white vinegar to maintain whiteness, remove odors, and soften clothes.  

Treat Stains 

After unboxing all your short-sleeve items, you might discover stains from last season that went unnoticed. To remove perspiration and any food-related stains, pretreat with liquid detergent, dishwashing liquid, or shampoo before washing.  

Gently rub the cleaning liquid into the fabric using a soft cloth or a soft-bristle brush. Tackle colored stains like food spills or underarm yellowing by applying undiluted liquid oxygen bleach directly to the area. Leave to absorb for no more than five minutes, rub into the fabric, and wash immediately.  

The Right Water 

Some stronger fabrics, like flannel or denim, can withstand harder water, but for more delicate springtime wears made of cotton, satin, or polyester, hard water could do damage. Hard water is water that’s rich in calcium and magnesium, which can reduce the effectiveness of common household detergents and affect how your whites emerge from each wash cycle. 

A tell-tale sign of high calcium and magnesium content in your water is a reddish stain in your toilet or along the edge of your bathtub. If this is the case, try using an iron-removing cleaning solution. You'll want to avoid chlorine bleach because the chemicals in bleach combined with iron and hot water can cause yellowing. Oxygen bleach is more effective at treating your clothes and it’s better for the environment.  

If the water in your home is particularly hard, your white fabrics might not ever return to their pristine color unless you install a water softener, which helps to remove harsh minerals and particles from the water.  

Keep Brights Bright 

With spring’s arrival, we should be seeing much more of our friend Mr. Sun. The golden rays of sunshine certainly feel good on our skin, but natural light also helps to protect our fabrics. Drying certain materials can cause fading, shrinking, or warping, so if possible, hang your clothing items outside to dry to help maintain their original appearance. You don’t want to leave your clothing outside for too long or under direct sunlight on a scorching day, but the gentle rays of the springtime sunshine can be great at treating your clothes without over-drying.  

As with brighter clothing items, hot water and the churning action inside the machine can cause some typical wear and tear. Deep, brighter colors will shed over time and some color loss is inevitable, but the goal is to keep this to a minimum. To keep your brights as bright as can be, separate your laundry by color depth and intensity, or into two separate groups: bright colors and pastels.  

Wash brand-new clothing on their own for the first cycle or two as new clothes are more likely to bleed significant amounts of dye. Before you throw them in the wash, turn your items inside out so the color on the front of your clothing better retains its bright appearance. And don’t forget to pay attention to your machine’s settings. Select the shortest cycle appropriate for the particular soil level and fabric material you’re washing.  

bright t-shirts on hangers

What if Colors Run? 

If any items bleed onto your springtime garments, vinegar won’t do much good at this point, but to save your fabrics, do not put any stained items into the dryer. The heat from the dryer will cause the stain to set in, potentially causing permanent discoloration or damage. Instead, wash the stained items again separately or treat the stain by hand. If you don't apply heat, the dye color should come out with an additional wash.  

Care for Your Clothes  

Proper fabric care is important year-round, but to keep your springtime wears looking their best, it takes a little extra patience and attention to detail—and an efficient washing machine couldn’t hurt, either. If you’ve noticed additional wear and tear caused by your washer, it could be a sign that it’s time for a new one. Give us a call, shop online, or visit our store to discover our entire collection of laundry appliances and cleaning accessories. Consider it spring cleaning.