11 Tips and Tricks for Caring for your Kids’ Clothing
Of all the household tasks, laundry probably doesn’t rank high on your list of most exciting jobs, despite its importance. In our house, my husband and I divide up all the necessary tasks, and each of us thinks we carved out the better half of the workload. He is the chef, as I become overwhelmingly exhausted by the mere thought of cooking dinner, and I oversee all the laundry. As I would sauté the onions and garlic in all the wrong order, my husband would mix all the wrong fabrics or colors in a load of laundry. Since I purchase our clothes, I naturally care more about what happens to them. I also have a good sense of how long a piece of clothing will remain in our outfit rotation and have high expectations it will survive through that length of time.
In a recent Meems article, Top 6 Brands Worth the Investment, we discuss why spending more on good brands is worth it, and now we want to share the best methods for taking care of these worthy clothes. Spending a bit more time properly caring for our clothes ensures their longevity. We recognize everyone is busy, and as a mom of four young children, my time is precious. I have everyone presort their clothes at the end of each day by having baskets set aside for each pile of laundry based on colors. This is also a great method for teaching young children their colors and a fun learning activity to squeeze in at the end of the day. I leave Sunday afternoons (sometimes later into the evening depending on the weekend) to clean, sort, and organize our closets for the week ahead. It can be a great time to multitask and catch up on your favorite Youtuber, watch a tv show, or video chat with a friend, while you sort, fold, or iron out clothes.
The fabric tag is the best place to start. I often make a mental note of the material and care method (I also think with practice, how to care fo certain types of fabric becomes more apparent), especially in case you need to remove the fabric tag for your sensory sensitive child! Now that you have basic care advice from the fabric tag, we wanted to offer the best tips and tricks to care for your clothes, so that you can expand the life of your investment in the clothing you buy!
Break down clothes into color piles of darks, lights, colors, and pinks/reds.2. Breakdown to piles
Next, break those color piles down even further based on the clothing fabric and function: sock and underwear, dress shirts, cottons, spandex, uniforms, sleepwear. By breaking these piles down even further the loads are smaller and items wash better.3. Stains
Children are hard on their outfits and often leave clothes with stains, marks and glue from school! Work hard, play harder, right? This problem can be easily managed with stain removing products. Treat the items at the end of each day and set them aside until they can be washed. Respray harsh stains before putting them in the laundry machine. In the summer, lay white items outside, as the sun will naturally bleach clothing.4. Don’t overload
Try not to overpack your machine. If there is too much jam packed into one load, items won’t have enough space to soak, move around, and be beaten clean.5. Inside out
For the childrens’ clothing, keep items turned right side out because they are often much dirtier. However, with adult clothing flip the items inside out to add extra protection to the item, and avoid color fading, additional wear and tear, and aging.6. Temperature
Wash your clothes in cold water. Very rarely use warm or hot water on any piece of clothing. Certainly, never on good clothing. Fabric tags often suggest washing on cold because it protects fabrics from shrinking and colors from fading. The Cleaning Institute makes the case that “cold water laundering is good for your clothes, good for the Earth, and good for your wallet” Nancy Bock ACI Senior Vice President, Education.7. Detergent
Consider gentle organic laundry detergent. Big name brands can be harsh and strongly scented. Avoid laundry pods because they release microplastics into the water and onto your clothes. We recommend gentle infant laundry detergent that is lightly scented. Use the exact amount recommended because overusing detergent can leave a soapy residue behind that damages fabrics.8. Mesh bag
Consider using a mesh washing bag with more delicate pieces of clothing to prevent tears or pulls.9. Dryer
Heat can cause delicate fibers to break down, shrink, and age much sooner than they should. Consider hanging your clothes or using a drying rack, especially with those items that have a specific structure you are hoping to preserve.10. Iron
Taking the time to press clothing lets you further inspect each item. You have time to see if a thread is coming loose, if a button needs to be tightened, and if there are stains that did not lift out. Ironing also gives a more finished look to each item. It helps keep the shape of your clothes, rather than letting them crease the wrong way.
Always iron with steam. Dry ironing is very harsh on fabrics and the water spray function can often cause more harm than good, leaving behind more stains if the water in the iron has sat for a while and turned a little brown. This can happen when the iron isn’t stored properly after the last use (a problem I’ve personally experienced while staying at an Airbnb and hotel).11. Storage
Make sure items that should be folded are stored on your shelf, and not accidentally hung up. Never hang knitwear, like wool, angora, or cashmere. Gravity is not a friend to delicate materials. Knitwear can easily be stretched from hanging incorrectly, especially when it is a naturally heavier material. Shoulders can be warped and that is very noticeable when worn. Folding is always the most reliable way to store delicate materials.
Children’s clothing is often made of cotton, but, obviously, there are variations in the quality of it. Meems’ brands carry some of the best quality cotton on the market, like Sammy & Nat’s classic Pima cotton (an amazingly soft fabric from Peru). I take extra care of items made of such high-end fabrics and will wash them separately on a hand wash cycle, lay them flat to dry, and iron out any kinks. In our Meems Monday interview with Kaleigh Ryan, we talked about how her infant onesies use bamboo fabric and how important it is to care for them properly to ensure the item's longevity. Bamboo is a great, environmentally conscious material, not relying on any pesticides, fertilizers or water to grow. However, these items must also be washed in cold water with minimal heat afterwards, so that you can enjoy the benefits of this high quality fabric for longer.
We hope this information gives you a different perspective on how to best care for your wardrobe, so that your investment may serve your little ones a lot longer!