Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Clothing Care Favorite Products + Resources

Last December I used a friend's steamer and had way too much fun using it.  I'd tried using one in the past but it seemed pointless so I never gave them much thought.  I was probably using it incorrectly back then, because when I used my friend's in December I was ALL ABOUT IT and even got my own.

I've been wanting to post about it but felt kind of silly doing an entire post about a small steamer.  Instead, today we'll talk not only about the steamer but also several other clothing care items that Benson and I love.  Also, I figured why not go one further and add some resources with tons and tons of miscellaneous tips on clothing clothing care?

I'm definitely not an expert on clothing care.  When I was younger I was completely oblivious and didn't take care of my clothes very well.  I would definitely NOT say I take extremely good care of my clothes now, but I'm further along than even just a few years ago.

That's just to say PLEASE add some of your favorite products or tips below.  I'm just doing this post to get the conversation going, but I'd love for you all to chime in too!

I'll start us off with some of Benson's and my top products.

Gosh, I hate ironing.  Getting out the board isn't terribly hard, but I'm lazy.  Plus, you have to put it away.  Also, I'm kind of accident prone, so how hot it gets freaks me out with how much surface area there is that I could accidentally touch.  (Thankfully I haven't had an accident with an iron yet, though!)  I don't really like having to maneuver the garment around the board either.  Overall, I know I sound like a grump because ironing really isn't that bad, but for some reason I'd just rather not do it!

Well, I tried my friend's steamer a few months ago, and something about it is oddly therapeutic for me.  Maybe some of you feel that way about ironing, so to each their own.  But I love that I can just put the garment on a hanger and run the steamer up and down to get out wrinkles.  I don't know if it actually takes less time than ironing, but it feels like it takes less effort at least.  No setting up the board and no maneuvering the garment around the board.

I got a travel steamer (HERE) because I travel so much.  I've been using it for 3 months and LOVE it.  First of all, I haven't encountered a wrinkle this steamer couldn't get out.  I'm sure those wrinkles exist somewhere, but so far I haven't ever thought, "Darn, shoulda used an iron!"  Secondly, I like the brush attachment because it allows me to get closer to the garment without my garment touching the hot nozzle, and the steam is still focused.  I don't know if I should be getting the steamer that close--I'm basically combing the garment--but I haven't noticed any damage to my clothes.  If you're more experienced with steamers, is there something I'm overlooking that I should be aware of, or is it okay that I'm doing that?

Anyway, I don't know why some of the reviews on Amazon say water bubbles out and splashes everywhere because I've never had that problem.  Like I said, it's rather therapeutic for me.  I just stand in place either holding my garment on a hanger in one hand or I hang it on a door, and then I kind of zone out while I move the steamer up and down and watch wrinkles get smoothed out.  And all is right in the world.  Therapeutic I tell you!

Note: Mine is a travel steamer, so it's smaller and holds less water, which means it doesn't emit steam for as long as larger ones.  Another portable one HERE (red one below) looks a little bigger than mine but its water capacity is much higher, if you don't mind the size.  A larger one to try for non-travel is HERE (white one below) with 1,900+ reviews on Amazon and 4.3 stars.  Click below:

Wool Dryer Balls
Next up is these dryer balls.  I don't remember how Benson heard of these, but he's one of those guys that reads and researches all sorts of random information so it's not surprising.  He was tired of using dryer sheets to eliminate static cling from our clothes.  He felt like they sometimes either left a film on his clothes or just affected their coloring in some way because of the fabric softening chemicals.  He did some research and eventually found these wool dryer balls as an alternative for dryer sheets.

The wool balls are reusable, and we've used our same set for several years (HERE).  They not only eliminate static cling, but they are also a fabric softener, and they cut down drying time because they bounce around your load, lifting clothing to allow better air distribution.  We've found all of those things to be true!  (More specifically, our drying time was cut down by about 15 minutes for a medium load.)

A well-known company asked me to review their dryer balls which release softener during the rinse cycle, but I declined because WHY, when these wool dryer balls have been so good to us and don't need to emit chemicals?

Garment Drying Rack
It wasn't until just several years ago that I realized more of my clothes should have been air dried.  I like to avoid shrinking and wear and tear on my clothes, so we actually air dry a lot more clothes than we probably need to just to be on the safe side.

We've used this drying rack for several years, and I really like it.  You can hang a garment (or two if they're small) from every horizontal metal bar, so it holds quite a bit while still maintaining a fairly slim profile.  Other racks we've tried either don't have as many bars, or if they do it's a panel that swings out horizontally which means the rack takes up a lot more floor space.  This one allows you plenty of hanging rods with minimal floor space.  I also like the mesh part on top for laying sweaters or more delicate items flat instead of hanging them dry--otherwise they'll get misshapen if hung.

Some reviews said the bars are too thin and bend when really heavy clothes are on them.  I can imagine what they're talking about, but we generally haven't hung such heavy clothes on it so I've never noticed that.  The heaviest we've placed on it that I can recall are jeans, my "grandpa" cardigans, and thicker joggers.  If we need to put heavier things on it I would just use multiple bars for more support instead of one thin bar.

Shout Gel
This isn't really anything special, but it's a favorite of ours so here it is.  I prefer this over the Tide To Go Pens, though I use the Tide pens on the go for lighter stains on white clothes.  But when there's a serious stain, or even when I get home after using the Tide To Go Pen I'll use Shout gel.  Well, the gel PLUS the brush to lift the stain.  The tiny squeeze gel bottle didn't last long with a kid in the picture, so we bought the larger Shout Advanced Action Gel bottle and kept the empty squeeze bottle just for the brush.  (I can't find the exact larger bottle we buy online anywhere.  It's the spray bottle but it's blue, whereas everything I see online is white and not a gel.)

I thought maybe I was giving too much credit to the stain lifting action of the brush, so sometimes I got lazy and just sprayed the stains without brushing...that didn't work as well.  It's really the gel + brush combo that's the winner for us.  One note: I would use the brush with caution on more delicate pieces, only brushing lightly, if at all.  On really delicate pieces I'd probably skip the brush unless I was desperate.

Anyway, just 4 products for now.  Add your favorites in the comments, and let's move onto some miscellaneous clothing care tips!

Favorite Tips
Over the years I've read various articles on clothing care and maintenance.  Usually it's so much info at once that I can't remember them all, but here are the ones that have stuck with me.  Some of them might be obvious to you, and some were immediately obvious to me once I actually thought about it.  But like I said, when I was younger I was oblivious and wasn't thinking about this stuff, so nothing was obvious to me, haha!  So I'm stating them anyway.  :)

shop outfit 1  //  outfit 2  //  outfit 3
  • Air dry things with elastic or spandex like bras, sports bras, and other activewear to preserve elasticity.  The dryer heat wears down the elastic faster.  
  • Wash jeans only every 4-5 wears.   I also wash mine inside out, though I don't know if that really helps preserve anything.  And I air dry them.  
  • Don't wear a garment immediately after ironing or steaming, or it'll probably wrinkle.  Let the press cool so that it sets, just like how you let your hair set after curling it before you mess with it.  
  • Fold sweaters instead of hanging them to prevent stretching.  Learned this the hard way in high school!  However, I just realized I've been hanging my light cardigans because they wrinkle in my folded piles.  Maybe I should fold those too though?  Does it make it more okay that they're lighter than my sweaters so they sag less?  
  • Real Simple's guide for how often you should wash different garments HERE
  • "Do I Really Have to Dry Clean This?" - by Real Simple.  Gives me peace of mind about hand washing my "dry clean only" items.
I'll stop at 6, lest this gets overwhelming.  Plus, there are a bunch more tips in the resources below.

Tips I Want to Try
  • If a shirt has shrunk, put it in a bowl with ice cold water and 1 cup of hair conditioner to restore it to its normal size.
  • To rid jeans of odors between washes, put the jeans in a plastic bag and freezer them for 2 days.
  • Store costume jewelry in Ziploc bags to retain luster rather than hanging them outside.  The air causes the metal to tarnish faster.  I really need to do this, but the thing that's keeping me is feeling like it's probably already too late!  

A Few More Resources

And there you go!  Like I said, I'm not anything close to an expert, and this is not exhaustive by any means.  Just trying to get the convo started.  If you've got a tip you live by, a product you can't live without, or a resource to share, please leave them in the comments!

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