Thrifty Whitties: Caring for Your Clothes

Olivia Jones

Alright, you are now in college and hopefully you have learned how to do your own laundry. Unfortunately, laundering your clothes is a little more complex than just piling them into the washing machine with some soap and pressing start. Even if you have been in the practice of laundering for years, there are still a few tricks to learn. Clothes, and making them look nice, has been my family’s business for generations, and with my penchant for one-of-a-kind, fragile vintage dresses, I have learned to pamper my clothes. I am also a frugal college student, so I have a lot of clothes purchased at thrift stores. However, even if you are wearing something you bought for fewer than five dollars, you can still look chic and well-tailored simply by taking good care of your clothes.

First, go back to the basics-separate your colors. I know the one load system is popular for students with so many better things to do than laundry, but your whites will never stay white if you don’t wash them on hot. Whites may make up a small percentage of your laundry load, so do a load of sheets and whites on hot together. As a bonus you will be sure to wash your sheets every two weeks or so with this method, and let us face it-that might not be a bad thing.

Next, make sure to get a stain treatment spray or stick. You would be surprised by just how much of a difference they make. If you can’t seem to remember to spot treat your clothes before you throw them in the wash, then get a roll-on stick and treat them at the end of the day before throwing them in the laundry pile. After you have washed a garment that you have spot treated and before you put it in the dryer, check the stain to make sure it has disappeared. If it has not, you can re-treat the stain while the garment is still wet and re-wash it.

Another use I have found for stain treatment sprays is white bra straps. If you do not wear bras you can skip to the next paragraph. If you do, then you know how difficult it is to keep white bra straps from becoming discolored. When I am hand washing my delicates (if it has lace you really ought to hand wash) I usually wash the whites and light colors first while the water is still hot. Before I throw them in the sink, I rub stain removal spray into the straps and any other discolored places. Then while I am washing them, I scrub the straps until all of the soap is out of them.

Finally, remember that dryers are the bane of your clothes. They fade them, shrink them, wear them down and fray them. Personally, I avoid drying as much as I can. I do not dry polar fleece, as it will pill, nor do I dry anything I own that is nicely tailored. I definitely do not dry my jeans or my sweaters. Jeans should be washed inside out to prevent fading as best as possible and then air-dried, either by hanging them or laying them flat to dry. For wool sweaters, lay them flat on a towel and every few hours flip it over until they are completely dry.

That is all for laundering, but stay tuned to Thrifty Whitties, and I will teach you more tricks for making your clothes look like they are worth more than you bought them for.