Best Practices for Your Favorite Garments

If you’ve ever caught yourself staring blankly at the care label on your favorite shirt then hastily deciding that you’ll wash on delicate and hang to dry—just to be safe…you’re not alone. Care labels can be daunting, not to mention, trying to remember the various “rules” for different fabrics and colors. It’s enough to make you want to bring all of your clothes to ZIPS. Until you come to that conclusion, please refer to our handy tips below on the appropriate methods of care for all of your favorite garments.

What do the symbols on the care label mean?

The Federal Trade Commission has developed a series of symbols to explain how you should care for your garment. To see a copy of these symbols and what they mean, click here.

What should I do with a defective garment?

Unfortunately, some garments are not able to withstand the permanently attached care procedures recommended by the manufacturer and can be damaged when cleaned. If this happens, the garment should be returned to the store where you bought it. If you don’t remember where you purchased the garment, you can locate the garment manufacturer and return the garment to them instead. If you need help returning the garment to the store or retailer, you may want to use the Sample Complaint Letter provided by the FTC. To get a sample complaint letter provided by the FTC to assist with returning defective items, click here.

You can also submit a complaint online regarding a defective garment. The Federal Trade Commission appreciates all complaints and uses the information to enforce the care label rule. Click here to submit an online complaint for a defective garment.

General Information About Cotton

From www.fabrics.net:

Cool, soft, comfortable, the principal clothing fiber of the world. Its production is one of the major factors in world prosperity and economic stability. Cotton "breathes." What would we do without cotton? Since cotton wrinkles, polyester was added to give it wash and wear properties for a busy world. In recent times, the consumer determined that polyester, although easier to care for, took away the cool from cotton and also added a "pilling" effect to cotton/polyester blends. Consumers now often request "100% Cotton." Permanent finishes also added to the all cotton fabric gave a wash and wear property to cotton. cotton. The cotton fiber is from the cotton plant’s seed pod The fiber is hollow in the center and, under a microscope looks like a twisted ribbon. "Absorbent" cotton will retain 24-27 times its own weight in water and is stronger when wet than dry. This fiber absorbs and releases perspiration quickly, thus allowing the fabric to "breathe." Cotton can stand high temperatures and takes dyes easily. Chlorine bleach can be used to restore white garments to a clear white but this bleach may yellow chemically finished cottons or remove color in dyed cottons. Boiling and sterilizing temperatures can also be used on cotton without disintegration. Cotton can also be ironed at relatively high temperatures, stands up to abrasion and wears well.

General Information About Linen

From www.fabrics.net:

Elegant, beautiful, durable, the refined luxury fabric. Linen is the strongest of the vegetable fibers and has 2 to 3 times the strength of cotton. Linen table cloths and napkins have been handed down generation to generation. Not only is the linen fiber strong, it is smooth, making the finished fabric lint free. Fine china, silver and candles are enhanced by the luster of linen which only gets softer and finer the more it is washed.

Linen is from flax, a bast fiber taken from the stalk of the plant. The luster is from the natural wax content. Creamy white to light tan, this fiber can be easily dyed and the color does not fade when washed. Linen does wrinkle easily but also presses easily. Linen, like cotton, can also be boiled without damaging the fiber.

Highly absorbent and a good conductor of heat, this fabric is cool in garments. However, constant creasing in the same place in sharp folds will tend to break the linen threads. This wear can show up in collars, hems, and any area that is iron creased during the laundering. Linen has poor elasticity and does not spring back readily.

General Information About Wool

From www.fabrics.net:

WOOL fabric brings to mind cozy warmth. Some wools are scratchy giving some people the idea that they are "allergic" to wool. Although wool fiber comes from a variety of animal coats, not all wool's are scratchy but rather extremely soft. The wool fibers have crimps or curls which create pockets and gives the wool a spongy feel and creates insulation for the wearer. The outside surface of the fiber consists of a series of serrated scales which overlap each other much like the scales of a fish. Wool is the only fiber with such serration's which make it possible for the fibers to cling together and produce felt. The same serration's will also cling together tightly when wool is improperly washed and shrinks! Wool will not only return to its original position after being stretched or creased, it will absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture without feeling damp. Its unique properties allow shaping and tailoring, making the wool the most popular fabric for tailoring fine garments. Wool is also dirt resistant, flame resistant, and, in many weaves, resists wear and tearing.

General Information About Polyester

From www.fabrics.net:

A strong fiber that is resistant to crease and thus keeps it shape. Polyester melts at medium to high temperatures. Although many people dislike polyester, perhaps due to the double knit fad of the 1950, polyester remains a versatile and important man-made fabric. Blends of polyester give cotton a permanent press property and extend the wear of these blended garments.

Polyester is manufactured in many weights including fiber-fill used in pillows and upholstery. Threads spun from polyester fibers are strong, wear exceptionally well, and are used extensively in home sewing and manufactured sewing.

General Information About Rayon

From www.fabrics.net:

from cellulose, has many of the qualities of cotton, a natural cellulose fiber. Rayon is strong, extremely absorbent, comes in a variety of qualities and weights, and can be made to resemble natural fabrics. Rayon does not melt but burns at high temperatures.

Rayon drapes well, has a soft, silky hand, and has a smooth, napped, or bulky surface. Rayon will wrinkle easily and may stretch when wet and shrink when washed.

General Information About Other Man Made Fibers

From www.fabrics.net:

ACETATE is not a strong fiber but can be extruded into fibers of different diameter and woven into fabrics that have the luxurious look of silk but do not wear like silk. Acetate does not absorb moisture readily but dries fast and resists shrinking. This is a resilient fabric that resists wrinkling in addition to being pliable and soft with a good drape. Triacetate is an improved acetate fabric which doesn't melt as easier and is easier to care for. Remember, acetate in nail polish and nail polish remover will melt acetate as will alcohol so take care with perfumes and nail products including super glue.

ACRYLIC is a fine soft and luxurious fabric with the bulk and hand of wool. Light weight and springy, this fabric is non-allergenic, dries quickly, draws moisture away from the body and is washable. Acrylic does not take even a moderate amount of heat. Modacrylics are used in pile fabrics like fake fur and are more flame resistant.

NYLON became a household word in 1940 when it was knitted into hosiery. In 1942 it was called into service for the armed forces use in parachutes, flak vests, combat uniforms, tires and many other vital military uses. Until the war was over nylon was not available to the public. Nylon became one of the most versatile fibers of the man-made fabrics. In addition to hosiery, nylon is used in tricot, netting for bridal veils, and in carpeting.

Nylon is stronger yet weighs less than any other commonly used fiber. It is elastic and resilient and responsive to heat setting. Nylon fibers are smooth, non-absorbent and dry quickly. Dirt doesn't cling to this smooth fiber nor is it weakened by chemicals and perspiration. Extensive washing and drying in an automatic dryer can eventually cause piling. Nylon whites should be washed separately to avoid graying.