your clothes can live many lives. they can go more places,
have more adventures. all it takes, is a little bit of love.
we’ve created this complete guide for caring for your clothes
washing your clothes
the best way to wash your clothes? not to. when you wash garments less and care for them more, they last much longer. you also save lots of water and energy by simply airing and brushing off your pieces, or spot cleaning small stains.
sometimes, a wash is inevitable. so when you do need help getting rid of stubborn dirt or a lingering smell, there are a few ways you can reduce your laundry’s carbon footprint.
- check your wash care label for the maximum temperature needed to clean your item. then lower it.
- try washing your items on a cooler temperature (around 30°C) to reduce energy consumption. a cooler wash also maintains a garment’s quality for longer.
washing machines aren’t the gentlest. they don’t know your clothing like you do. so instead of honing in on stains or handling them with ease, the way you do when you handwash, washing machines put your pieces through harsh movements, centrifugation and twisting, which can damage the fibres and seams of your pieces.
it can be time consuming. but if you hand wash your fave, more delicate pieces, you’re actually giving them a longer life. think silks, woollens, cashmere, lace, chiffon, velvet, embroidery and embellishments, fine knits and any high fashion items.
this care will prevent shrinking and fading so you can resell the items for a higher value once it’s time to pass them on.
note: some items with structured details like pleats may be better off with an eco dry cleaners.
how to handwash:
- clean the sink, bathtub or basin you’ll be using and fill it with water before adding your clothes to avoid possible fibre stretch
- check the care labels on the piece for washing temperatures and fabric care
- make sure that water is cold or lukewarm. don’t let the water get too warm, as warm water might shrink or fade the fabric
- use a detergent fit specifically for the fabric content (suitable for woollens, silks or delicates) – ideally without bleach, enzymes, or brightening agents to prevent fading
- add detergent. make sure it’s completely dissolved before you add your clothes. turn your clothes inside-out before washing.
- only wash a few items of the same colour or fabric at the same time
- make sure everything is completely saturated, and swish the items through the water without twisting or scrubbing (this can cause them to stretch)
- let the items soak for 5-30 minutes (no more, as this can cause them to fade) – if you’re washing underwear, keep it at 15 minutes max
- when you’re done, lift the items out one by one and drain the sink, bathtub or basin
- refill with clean, cold/lukewarm water and gently rinse the item
- repeat this until you see no more suds, looking out for running dye (especially with silks)
- to dry, gently press or squeeze out as much water as possible and place it down on a thick, white towel in its original shape – this prevents any possible colour transfer
- never tumble or spin dry handwashed pieces
in warmer weather, embrace your inner cottagecore and hang your clothes outside to dry. it reduces the total lifecycle energy consumption by 2x.
on cloudier days, dry clothes on a rack or hanger, making sure you straighten hems and creases.
be aware that the more a piece is tumble dried, the more it ages. the only time you need to tumble dry clothes is when washing down jackets or bedding as they’re much slower to dry, which can cause that unpleasant damp smell.
alternatively, you can spin-dry woollen clothes after washing on a quick 800 rpm-cycle. this will remove all excess water and let you hang-dry them without risk of them losing their shape.
only reach for the iron if you have no other choice - it harms your clothes and takes up energy. our favourite hack is to hang your clothes in the bathroom while you shower. the steam will remove creases naturally.
if you don’t have time for handwashing, make sure you check the care labels before machine washing. as a general rule, aim to wash on a lower temperature than recommended. exceptions can be made for pieces like underwear that are in close contact with skin and need a higher temperature to kill bacteria. to help lower the temperature and remove bacteria, use a laundry sanitiser or antibacterial spray along with your delicate detergent.
before you place pieces in the washing machine, turn them inside out and close all zips/fastenings. make sure you don’t underfill or overfill your washing machine.
30°C is your default option for all pieces that aren’t too dirty, synthetic materials, sports clothes and other delicate pieces. always check the fabric care label on your pieces.
washing items on a cool setting or delicate cycle can also prevent them from shrinking. bonus points for putting them in a mesh laundry bag.
air dry where possible, but if it’s absolutely necessary to tumble dry, use your dryer’s lowest heat setting. if you take clothes out while they’re still damp, you may be able to avoid shrinkage.
white and lights
- it’s not old fashioned – make sure you sort laundry into colours and delicate vs non delicate items
- remember to also separate very dirty clothing
- use a washing powder instead of a liquid detergent, which dulls whites (less is more)
- check the care label and use the warmest water recommended as higher temperatures get rid of dirt – always aim to air dry (uv rays can bleach and sanitise)
- cotton whites can be washed in 60°C to maintain brightness
- wash darks together in the shortest, coolest cycle possible to prevent fading (you can do a test in the sink to see if it bleeds – especially for cotton and denim)
- choose a liquid detergent over a powder – either one specifically for dark colours or the smallest normal amount possible
- air dry away from direct sunlight, as uv rays cause your colours to fade
- separate pales and pastels from brighter tones to prevent dye transfer
- follow washing and drying instructions for dark colours as above
- try to stay away from detergents that include bleach
- wash as little as possible to keep the colour of your piece locked in and to lower risk of the colours bleeding (yes, even after the first few washes)
- synthetic blend fabric needs low temperatures (max 30°C)
- use an odour control detergent to remove post-workout smells
- for more intense smells (ie post rave or after a heavy cardio sesh), soak in cool water for an hour beforehand
cotton clothes and fabrics
- cotton can handle higher temperatures, but colours will still fade if you wash them above 30 - 40°C
- cotton whites can be washed in 60°C to maintain brightness
- wash in cold or warm water by hand or machine (max 20-30°C), using a mild detergent to prevent wear and tear
- only wash with other microfiber items, otherwise they gather lint from other fabrics (especially cotton)
- don’t use fabric softener – it will clog the spaces in between the fibres
- avoid using bleach – it will erode the fibres
- hang to air dry or, if absolutely necessary, place in a dryer with no heat or dryer sheets, which can destroy the fabric easily
- place pieces in a mesh/guppy washing bag to prevent fibres from being released
- instead of washing, air them out and spray them with a clothing mist from time to time
- if you decide to wash, opt for a delicate detergent over an enzyme-based one to preserve the jacket’s natural oils
- add an extra rinsing cycle to get rid of detergent residues
- tumble dry on low temperatures, inside out
- add three plus clean tennis balls to the mix and let it run until your jacket is completely dry
- pause the cycle every so often to shake out the jacket
eco dry cleaning
but what do you do about the ‘dry clean only’ label? like most labels, they’re there to be ignored. but for certain delicate materials, like beading or embroidery, you might not be able to get the stain out at home.
conventional dry cleaners use chemicals that are harmful to our air quality, clothing fibres, and even to the people who work there. for example, perchloroethylene is a potential carcinogen and a pollutant still being used in the uk, despite being banned in the us.
instead, opt for a green or eco dry cleaner that doesn’t use toxic chemicals.
green dry cleaners use gentle treatments and expert technology to avoid any damage to pieces, people or the planet. win-win.
some safe and durable dry-cleaning methods include wet cleaning, carbon dioxide cleaning and ozone cleaning.
be cautious of greenwashing when choosing your eco dry cleaner. words like ‘green’, ‘sustainable’ and ‘environmentally friendly’ are thrown around and unregulated. check if they share details on their processes online or in store.
if you’re based in london, try blanc living. they’re one of the very few dry cleaners to really get clothing care without the chemicals. just mention RLVD20 in-store or online and get 20% off your first order.
materials that can be dry cleaned include silk, linen, leather, rayon and denim. there’s no need to dry clean cashmere, cotton and most wools - they can be handwashed or spun on a delicate cycle in your washing machine.
- to remove scratches, scuffs or dust, use a lint-free cloth
- apply a leather balm to the area with a soft sponge, and let it soak for a few minutes
- if diy didn’t do the job, the pros can fix fading leather. leather restoration specialists use paints/dyes to repair the leather surface
- silicone polymer or acrylic copolymer spray can preserve the shine of your leather
- grease or wax-based products provide better waterproofing but can alter the colour, shine and sometimes even that buttery leather smell. never use products containing mineral oil or petroleum as they can cause damage.
- only apply these products 2-3 times a year. remember that they cannot fully protect your leather garments from water, so don’t wear your leather jacket in the rain
wool is cozy, warm, soft. but it could also use a bit more care. tough stains like coffee or chocolate can be the enemy of wool – especially if it isn’t raw or organic. here’s how you can take care of your wool safely.
- soak a lint-free cloth in wool detergent diluted with lukewarm water
- use the cloth to gently dab around the edges of the stain
- gently blot the area with an absorbent towel/cloth
- if the stain remains after drying, soak a cloth with white spirit and dab gently from the edge of the stain, then gently press again with an absorbent towel/ cloth to soak up any excess
- hang to air dry
- wash only if the stain still won’t come out
- rinse the liquid off as much as possible with water
- apply a dilute solution of wool detergent in lukewarm water
- if the stain remains after drying, dab it with a mixture of 3 parts surgical spirit/rubbing alcohol and 1 part cold water
- allow to air dry
- scrape the stain’s surface with a spoon or blunt knife to remove any excess oil
- use a hot iron over a few layers of tissue to soak up the excess oil/grease
- if it persists, gently dab the area with a lint-free cloth in white spirit or proprietary grease remover
- blot as much as possible and repeat if necessary
- allow to air dry
- rinse well. if the stain still won’t come out, put it in the wash.
wash wool as little as possible. instead, hang out woollen pieces outside overnight, airing them out frequently will help them stay fresh. if that doesn’t work to get rid of unwanted smells, then give washing a go.
- when you do wash, invest in an enzyme-free wool detergent that protects fibres
- wash gently in cool water to prevent shrinkage, either by hand or on a cool, delicate setting
- don’t fill up the washing machine more than 50%, but feel free to wash with other materials
- if you spin dry, don’t go over 800 RPM
- dry the piece by laying it out flat in its original shape on a mesh surface
- even if they’ve been spin dried, hang dry wool sweaters
- to disinfect wool, you can boil it for 10 minutes, but make sure you keep it completely still – moving it around in hot water will make it shrink for sure
- if your piece shrinks or loses its shape, stretch it with decisive movements
- make sure to always treat stains as soon as they appear
- rinse in cold water immediately, adding a few drops of gentle detergent, cashmere wash or dishwashing liquid (soap or machine detergents can actually set stains, so avoid those)
- let the garment soak until the stain has disappeared, before rinsing again with cold water
- if the stain is still there, use a stain solution on the area
- you might choose to lightly hand wash the garment afterwards
- for chocolate stains, dip a cloth in liquid detergent and very gently rub the stained area
- turn the piece inside out to avoid abrasion
- soak it for a minimum of 15 minutes, then gently swish it around in cold water
- hand washing is always the best way, but you can also wash it on a delicate cycle of max 30ªC
- lay the item out on a large towel to air dry (never wring or twist it – this will damage the material)
- press to remove the water or roll the towel up with the item in the middle, applying pressure to the towel before unrolling it and letting it air dry flat on another towel
- iron or steam inside out on the lowest setting with a damp cloth, always keep the iron moving
- avoid hanging the piece as it can lose its shape
- store in a mesh storage bag with cedar balls to keep away moths (open the bag every few months and give your garment a good shake)
- never put stained cashmere back in the drawer as this will definitely attract moths
- always target a spill as soon as you see it
- rinse the stain with cold water and rub it gently from the inside using laundry detergent or bile soap
- you can also use acetone or chemically pure petrol (without oil) on grease stains. be sure to test them on a discrete spot before you go for it.
- don’t use a store-bought stain remover on silk as it is too harsh
silk’s natural fabric can resist dirt and dust. as with all materials, less is more when it comes to washing. air silk items out frequently after you wear them to keep the need for washing to a minimum. try only washing your silks only a few times per year. if you want to freshen them up, you can also try a clothing mist.
when you do wash silk, try to do it by hand.
- check for details, texture or structure (e.g. pleats that can be damaged when washed) and make sure you’re extra gentle with them
- the first few times you hand wash silk, you may see some dye come out in the water. don’t panic. it happens.
- use an enzyme-free, eco-friendly, surfactant-based detergent that won’t dissolve the fabric
- fill a basin with cool water and silk detergent
- turn the piece inside out before you gently submerge it, soaking for max 30 minutes
- empty the basin and refill with clean water, rinsing it until it’s soap free
- if you do use a machine, wash it on the wool cycle spin (30°C) and never fill the machine more than 50% – you can wash silk with wool but remember to separate the colours
only dry clean silk if the care label specifically tells you not to wash it with water.
- gently press the garment between your hands
- absorb excess water with a towel, then leave it to dry flat on top of it
- if you hang to air dry in the shade, place it in its natural shape to avoid stretching
- do not dry in the sun as this may bleach the fabric
- never, ever tumble dry
- hang blouses and dresses on strong wooden hangers that will prevent tear and avoid creases
- you can also fold them carefully and place them in a drawer
- never overcrowd your closet and always keep an eye out for moths
steaming reduces wrinkles, removes bacteria and targets unwanted odours. while ironing can burn the fabric, steam is gentle and can give silk an extra oomph of plumpness. go ahead and steam your silks, we recommend it.
- once you see the stain, soak your jeans asap with very warm tap water
- pour table salt directly onto the stained area and let it sit for 5 minutes
- brush the salt away and rinse the area with cool water
- lay the stained area face down on paper towels, pressing gently to transfer any remaining stain
- rinse and wash again immediately with cold water
- for fresh stains, you can apply baking soda liberally to the spot, then let it stand for 1-2 minutes
- pour boiling water through the stain and rinse with cool water
- if none of this works, saturate the area with undiluted white vinegar and let it stand for 5 minutes, then rinse with cool water. repeat as needed.
- in all cases, launder the jeans immediately with cold water afterwards, and then hang to air dry
denim is made from cotton, a breathable fabric.
after you wear your jeans, hang them outside to let them air out. this will remove and prevent any funky smells.
you can also spray them with a clothing mist that targets sweat and odours.
denim isn’t very eco-friendly. growing the cotton is a chemical process that can harm the environment. that’s why preserving your jeans is extra important. you’ve probably caught on by now: the less you wash your jeans, the better. but it’s not as gross as you think - a pair of jeans that hasn’t been washed in a year has almost as little bacteria as jeans that haven’t been washed in a week.
denim moulds to your body over time. washing disrupts that process.
all this doesn’t mean you should never wash your jeans. just try to stick to once every few months. and don’t forget to air them out and target any stains immediately. here are some tips on washing your jeans.
- zip them up, turn them inside out, and empty all pockets
- to handwash, fill a sink, bathtub or basin with cold water and fully submerge the jeans
- add mild detergent or vinegar as it fixes the dye, softens the fabric and slows the fading process
- let them soak for max 30 minutes, then refill the sink with cold water to remove the suds
- to machine wash, place in a laundry bag that protects the fabric (e.g. a mesh/guppy bag)
- wash on max 30°C (a gentle cycle)
- use a colour preserving detergent (choose a specific one for dark jeans). never ever use fabric softener – it’ll fade the fibres over time and its strong chemicals wear out the fabric
- hang to air dry in a drying cabinet or on a drying rack
- never tumble dry - this will damage colour and fabric
- you can steam your jeans to perfect the fit and soften the fabric
- soak in cool water and rewash with stain remover
- launder using chlorine bleach (check if it’s safe for the fabric first) or oxygen bleach
- for red wine, cover the stain with salt immediately, then rinse with cool water - if the stain is old, try club soda
- for grease, add some pre-wash stain remover or liquid laundry detergent
- air out and remove stains before washing
- for delicate, sheer and embroidered pieces, choose the wool programme or hand wash
- for machine washing, choose a mild, eco detergent
- do not use fabric softener - the fatty compounds bind to the fabric and form a waxy coating that reduces the fabric’s ability to absorb moisture
- even if you choose to machine wash, soak the piece in lots of water beforehand
- squeeze out excess water and choose a gentle spin cycle (approx 30-40°C)
- never tumble dry
- straighten all seams and hang out to dry
- preferably steam or iron at high temperatures while the fabric is still moist (unless you’re going for the messy vibe. no complaints here.)
- for a more polished look, use a clothes mangle - it will repel dirt and let your pieces shine
some extra diy tips for damaged fabric:
lightly pulled thread
- cut the extra thread. if it’s a knitted sweater, push the visible thread back inside the garment
- stitch the hole only if the hole is very small or if the patching won’t be visible
- restitch the undone lining using the same stitching pattern and colour of the original garment
- no use crying over spilled ink. try to clean the ink mark with soap, water and a sea sponger. if that doesn’t work, send it to the dry cleaners.
diy materials worth investing in:
- sea sponges for applying leather balm
- polishing cloth for leather
- zipper conditioner to aid zipper movement
- acetone to remove remnants of glue
- leather balm/conditioner to clean dirty leather
- autosol to remove oxidation from buckles/hardware on belts and bags
love your pieces, care for them, and when it’s time, pass them on.
you can list your clothes on rlvd here.