Clothing care guide: How to wash and store every single thing in your closet

clothing care guide
clothing care guide

Dry clean only: Three words we dread to hear when it comes time to wash our clothes. Because let’s face it. We all know dry-cleaning can be a money-sucking entity (Hello, $20 to clean one silk blouse? Um, no thanks!).

But before you throw in the towel and decide to shell out the bills anyways, YouTube sensation Melissa Maker of Clean My Space explains, “‘Dry clean’ means you can also hand wash.” While many would find washing complicated fabrics at home nerve-racking, if cared for correctly, not only could you prolong your clothing’s life, but also save a helluva a lot of money. And who’s never up for that? Says no one.

So to help solve our clothing woes, we tapped industry’s best (i.e. Line Knitwear’s co-founder Jennifer Wells, denim designer Paige Adams-Geller, swimwear’s cool girl Beth Richards and many more) for tips and tricks on how to clean and store every material out there. From silk to cashmere to trickier ones like velvet and suede, here is your ultimate clothing care guide for everything in your closet. Consider your fashion prayers answered.

Note: The following are general guidelines. Always check the care label supplied by the manufacturer or contact the manufacturer directly if you have any concerns.

clothing care guide silk

How to wash/clean it:
1. Soak the garment in a bucket or basin filled with four litres of cold water and a teaspoon of gentle detergent (colour free, scent free).
2. Gently agitate it with your hands. Let it sit for a few moments.
3. Rinse in cool water and squeeze water out. Never wring.
4. Lay it flat on a towel and roll the towel up to absorb extra moisture. Then lay flat to dry.
5. If needed, iron on a very low setting (there might even be a ‘silk’ setting).

How to store it:
Hang it up on a good quality hanger.

Melissa Maker, YouTuber of Clean My Space

clothing care guide cashmere

How to wash/clean it:
Always remove pilling before cleaning. You can do this with a de-pilling tool or with a pumice stone. – MM

1. Hand wash in a sink or basin with a mild detergent or a delicate care product like Zero by Woolite. Baby shampoos are always an option. Remember to use cool water – not too warm or hot to avoid shrinkage.
2. Squeeze out excess water. Try not to wring or rub the fabric too much.
3. Roll the sweater in a clean towel to remove excess moisture and lay flat to dry on a drying rack or towel. A great tip is to reshape the sweater while it’s flat. Avoid using a hanger to dry the garment, as it can distort the shape.
4. Finish by using a garment steamer to remove any wrinkles and restore the shape.

How to store it:
1. Store your knits in a dry, well-aired space with no direct sunlight.
2. During the summer months, fold and store cashmere pieces in large plastic bins for easy stacking. Steer clear of cardboard boxes, as the paper holds moisture.
3. Punch air holes in the lid to help with air flow.
4. Store your cashmere this way for up to 3 months at a time.

Note: Avoid storing your knits with hard products like leather bags, belts, jewellery and shoes, as the knits are delicate and can easily pull or snag.

Jennifer Wells, Co-Founder and Co-Creative Director of Line Knitwear

clothing care guide cotton

How to clean/wash it:
1. Wash with similar colours. Remember to separate from other cotton items like towels and linens.
2. Use the right detergent, as well as the right amount of detergent (more doesn’t equal cleaner clothing!). Too many suds in an HE machine mean dingy clothing.
3. Launder with hot or cold water, depending on the type of load (typically hot water is used for whites)
4. Hang garments that are prone to shrink while placing those that aren’t prone to shrink in the dryer.

Note:I found that Tide HE Turbo, which is a new seal from the brand, features suds that collapse like soda bubbles, leaving no extra suds behind in the wash.

How to store it:
Hang or fold.


clothing care guide leather

How to clean/wash it:
1. Use a slightly dampened clean cloth and softly wipe away marks. If that doesn’t remove the stain, invest in a good quality leather cleaner and protector.
2. Remember to do a test patch on a hidden area of the bag first.
3. Always air dry naturally.

Karl Kowalewski, Roots Vice-President Leather Product Development and Manufacturing

Leather bags:
3. Use a vacuum with small brush attachment, or a lint roller, to remove lint and clean inside the bag.

Leather shoes:
1. Clean salt stains off leather shoes by spraying on a solution of white vinegar and water.
2. Buff off with a cloth.

How to store it:
Store leather bags in dust bags and out of sunlight when not in use, and be sure not to hang from their handles to avoid extra stretching and wear.


clothing care guide denim

How to clean/wash it:
1.Wash jeans inside out.
2. Hang to dry.
Note: If you don’t like the crispy texture that results from air-drying, throw them in the dryer with a damp washcloth for 10 minutes on the tumble setting. It’s not hot, so it won’t blow out the lycra and cause stretching.

How to store it:
1. Store denim in a dark space. When exposed to light or sunlight, the washes can oxidize and turn yellow. The good news is that the yellow will wash away as soon as you clean your jeans and they will return to their original color.
2. Avoid placing your black or super dark denim next to white or lighter coloured denim when storing. The indigo or black dye can rub onto the lighter denim.

Paige-Adams Geller, Founder and Creative Director of Paige Denim

clothing care guide suede

How to clean it:
1. To remove dirt or marks, use a good-quality suede brush and rub gently until the marks are gone. Roots offers a leather protector that offers year round protection for all genuine leather, suede, fabric and nubuck. – KK
2. For nubuck and unfinished leather, stains and mild marks can be removed with a white rubber eraser and gentle brush if necessary.

How to store it:
1. Store suede bags in dust bags and out of sunlight when not in use.
2. Be sure not to hang from their handles to avoid extra stretching and wear.


clothing care guide down

How to clean/wash it:
1. Remove everything from pockets and zip up the item, if needed.
2. Follow the care label provided. In general, launder in cold water with a low sudsing detergent (ie. Tide HE Turbo), since you want to ensure all soap and residue is gone once you’ve washed everything.
3. Use a gentle cycle; too much spinning can ruin the down.
4. When drying, run the item through several ‘fluff’ dry cycles. Use tumbling and very low heat – too much heat can be harmful as can too much action.
5. Add a few tennis balls or dryer balls into the dryer to help beat out the moisture and re-shape the down.
6. Do not take the item out until it is completely dry. Avoid air drying or else mold and mildew can form.

How to store it:
Place in a breathable bag in a non-damp environment.


clothing care guide wool

How to clean/wash it:
1. Fill a sink or basin with lukewarm to cool water (not too warm or hot to avoid shrinkage!). Use a mild detergent or baby shampoo.
2. Soak your sweater for approximately 10 minutes and squeeze out excess water. Be careful not to wring or rub the fabric too much.
3. Roll the sweater in a clean towel to remove excess moisture, and lay flat to dry on a drying rack or dry towel. I don’t recommend using a hanger, as it will distort the shape of the garment.
4. Finish by using a garment steamer to remove any wrinkles and help restore the shape.

How to store it:
1. Wool knits should always be folded, as hanging will often distort the shape.
2. In the summer months, pack away your knits in sealed bins to maintain their shape from season to season.


clothing care guide velvet

How to clean/wash it:
Velvet has to be one of the most complex fabrics to care for. My advice would be to run to the cleaners with it, they would know how to clean and dry it effectively to restore.
1. Use a tailor’s brush to fluff up the nap, however I would recommend asking the retailer, a tailor or dry cleaner to demonstrate exactly how to use the brush first, to ensure you don’t damage the fabric.

Velvet shoes:
1. Recommended to treat with upholstery cleaner before wearing them.
2. Clean any spots with warm, soapy water and dab on gently with a cloth.
3. Blot off to dry.

How to store it:
1. To store velvet, do so in a breathable garment bag.
2. Hang a cedar sachet along with the item to ward off moisture and moths.


clothing care guide swimwear

How to clean/wash it:
1. Swimwear must be rinsed off after each wear to remove body oil, sun products (lotions and oils), salt, sand and chlorine.
2. Hand wash your swimwear by adding a teaspoon of laundry detergent, something gentle and low-sudsing like Tide HE Turbo, to a basin filled with warm water. Low sudsing is key here, since it will reduce rinse time and residue left on the swimsuit.
3. Soak for 10 minutes or so and gently work the soapy water into the swimwear
4. Rinse well.
5. Press along the side of the basin to remove excess water.
6. Hang to dry. – MM

– After a beach, pool or spa session, rinse in cold water to get any chemicals out before it dries, or pop into the wash. Most quality swim fabrics are engineered to withstand chlorine, lotions and abrasive surfaces but to skin garments should be at the very least rinsed for hygienic purposes.
– Stay away from products with bleach that will break down fibres. Non-abrasive agents are best.

How to store it:
1. Store it in an intimate or shoe dust bag, but not necessary.
2. Tuck away from contact with velcro or other abrasive trims and hooks is a good thing. Again, depending on the style (ie. fine mesh), they can still be delicate even though they look sturdy.

Beth Richards, Founder and Designer of Beth Richards Swimwear

clothing care guide sportswear

How to clean it:
1. In order to preserve all the qualities and properties of the fabric, we suggest to machine wash in cold water on gentle cycle.
2. Separate colours or wash separately.
3. Recommend using the right or recommended amount of detergent. If you use too much, it might leave residue on your clothes, affecting the performance of your gear. – Hélène Cyr, Quality Assurance Manager at Lolë

For technical synthetic fabrics (i.e. luon and luxtreme)
1. Turn your gear inside out.
2. Wash like with like in cold water (avoid mixing synthetics with cotton).
3. Use cold water and your normal laundry detergent without fabric softener.
4. Hang or tumble dry.

– To extend the life of your gear, look for high quality fabrics and technologies that are inherent to the products you purchase. Anti-stink technology is great, especially for high sweat workouts. Seek out anti-stink solutions in gear that you plan to use a lot for extra sweaty activities; this will extend the longevity of those pieces by keeping them fresh as the day you bought them for years to come. – Brittany Gelineau, Manager of Brand Product Education of Lululemon

– The golden rule with fitness gear is to never use fabric softeners, which clog the moisture-wicking fibres and leave your workout clothing smelling unclean.

1. Clean the exterior of the sneaker with a solution of one teaspoon of laundry detergent to a cup of water.
2. Scrub with a toothbrush.
3. Remove suds with a sponge dipped in clean water.

Note: Use foot powder to reduce odours and always wear with a sock to create a moisture barrier.

How to store:
1. Never leave them in your gym bag, in a ball, after an intense workout or a hot yoga session. This for sure will not let your clothes dry or air out.
2. Always make sure to remove your clothes from your gym back when you get home, and to store your items only when completely dry.
3. Leave your sneakers out in the sun for a day to help kill odours as well.

clothing care guide lingerie

How to clean/wash it:
1. Hand wash lingerie by filling a basin with warm water and add a teaspoon of detergent.
2. Pre-treat any stained areas with the same detergent by simply applying it straight onto the stained areas.
3. Allow garments to soak for 30 minutes, and then before rinsing, gently roll the pieces between your hands to clean.
4. Rinse by emptying the basin and running lukewarm water, pressing the garments between your hands to remove suds (not wringing).
5. Hang or lay flat to dry. – MM

– It’s best to hand wash your pieces as machine-washing your lingerie causes materials like elastene to lose its strength – which is important for support. More delicate items like lace and embroideries will also last if they’re washed gently by hand.
– We do not recommend dry-cleaning, bleaching, ironing and tumble-drying lingerie, as it will damage delicate fabrics.
– Most specialty stores strongly recommend a lingerie wash to help maintain the life of the lycra in your bra. If you see runs in the back of your bra, your detergent is eating away at the lycra. Soak Wash is made in Canada and my customers love that you don’t need to rinse your garments when they’re done “soaking.”

How to store it:
Non-moulded bras can easily be folded in half and stored in your drawer. You should never fold your moulded cups into one another. I recommend hanging your contour/moulded bras over a hanger in your closet so they don’t dent.

Frederika Zappe, National Fit Specialist for Eveden