…My biggest winter woe

I shrunk my favorite COS sweater last week. I don’t know how it happened. I washed it on cold, I let it hang dry. And in the morning, it was perfectly sized for a pre-teen. Whyyyy? Seriously though, why?

I asked Gwen and Lindsey, founders of The Laundress, for some basic laundry tips and tricks (including how to avoid any further wool sweater disasters). Laundry day is about to get a whole lot better…

Washing. Hand washing is the most gentle way to wash. If it’s the first time you’re washing something, instead of going to the dry cleaner, the most controlled environment is hand washing. Use a cold or tepid water. If you are hand washing cotton or linen, use hot water. It’s better for stains, but use only with cotton or linen.

Drying. We are really big on hang drying. Aside from sheets and towels, the dryer is the devil. It’s really bad, it’s really hard on your fabric. It ages the item, it is as if you’ve had it in your wardrobe for 10 years if you keep using the dryer. We recommend using a drying rack so items can dry properly. When there is limited access due to travel, lay items flat on a dry towel in a low humidity environment. It can take a full day to dry so you’ll need to flip the garment over before going to bed. Avoid a damp basement altogether.

Treating stains. We recommend pre-treating areas with heavy wear (the underarms, the collar, the cuff). We treat the underarms with a stain remover with every single wear. If you treat something every time you wash it, with just a dab of stain remover, you’re going to have a clean slate every time and prolong build up.

Read the tag. Tags are not monitored by any authority. Whatever you want to label, you can label and no one is going to come after you if it is wrong. We like to read the tags for the fabric content and when we know what it is made out of we can wash it accordingly. You can follow the tags as a general guide, but going by the fabric is the best guideline. If a tag says dry clean only, that really means dry clean only.

Taking care of wool & cashmere. You have to be very careful with wool, it’s always a hand wash or a delicate cycle. Wool shrinks with movement as well as temperature. You have to have minimal agitation and a cool temperature, hot or warm water will cause shrinking. You should also use a specialized wool detergent when washing (try a baby hair shampoo that is sulfate free).

Wool inherently repels odor, dirt and is naturally fireproof. You will eventually break the odor barrier in the underarm area, which you can still treat with a stain remover. Don’t iron your wool or cashmere items as this will squash the yarn.