Step one is the question of whether the piece really has to be washed already or whether it might be enough for now just to air it out. This is because every wash not only stresses the fibres of the fabric, it also consumes water and energy. Denim and wool in particular benefit from being aired out instead of washed. As a rule of thumb: never wash clothing at a temperature higher than that recommended, although going colder is often no problem at all. This is gentle on the fabric – and on energy resources. Fine fabrics can be protected by using a mesh laundry bag, while the correct choice of detergent can protect the environment and our health – an eco-friendly detergent contains fewer harmful substances for humans and the environment and is also more suitable more allergy sufferers.
Air-drying is particularly gentle and efficient. A dryer should only be used sparingly – it stresses the material, can cause shrinkage and also consumes twice as much power as a wash cycle. Freshly washed clothing should be shaken out thoroughly as soon as possible, put back into shape and then hung up on a clothes hanger or on a washing line. Wool dries best when rolled up in a towel to absorb excess moisture. The item should then be laid out flat and left to air-dry.
As is often the case, the first question is whether the item has to be ironed at all or if there are just small wrinkles that will disappear by themselves once shaken out and hung up in the bathroom when damp. You can find the permissible ironing temperature on the product’s care label. Lightly spraying water on the item or using a steam iron make removing wrinkles even easier. Do not spray water on silk and always iron it using the lowest temperature. Dark clothing or pieces with decorative elements or prints should be ironed inside out in order to avoid pressure marks or damage. A good alternative to an iron is a steamer. It removes wrinkles more gently and doesn’t take up much space, making it perfect for travelling as well.
Stain removers from the chemist should first be tested on a hidden spot on the inside of the item. Some household remedies are more friendly on the environment and cheaper as well: a solution made of approx. two sachets of packing powder can remove sweat stains and yellowing. Salt and lemon juice are great for blood stains. And vinegar essence deals nicely with deodorant stains and similar. However, you should always test these household remedies on an inconspicuous spot as well, just as with chemical products. If used incorrectly, even the most natural stain remover can leave behind unwanted traces. Some stains disappear simply by being left to dry in the sun.
Some materials are especially sensitive and require special cleaning – this is shown on the care label. Dry cleaning usually involves replacing water with a chemical solvent that tackles stains. When choosing a dry cleaning service, you should pay attention to whether the provider uses environmentally friendly ozone treatments, for instance. Organic dry cleaners do not use toxic chemicals. This is because conventional chemicals are often harmful to health and the environment.