Care for your colours
We know that you expect your Kettlewell Colours clothes to last a reasonable lifespan, but with a little extra care and attention, you can increase that lifespan from ‘reasonable’ to ‘exceptional’. To help you do just that, we’ve collected and refined all of our favourite garment care tips and tricks.
I’m talking here about the physical space in which you store your clothes. Make sure that if you hang your clothes, they aren’t all squashed together (this can lead to items being stretched out of shape over time, as they get pulled around every time you try to squeeze more in or out of the wardrobe), and invest in the right hangers for each garment. We love Total Wardrobe Care, and their non-slip hangers will hold any garment you might feasibly want to hang up!
If your clothes are folded in drawers, try to ensure that they aren’t stacked too deep or squashed in too much – again, the endless stretching and tugging, and even snagging on the inside of wooden drawers if they are stuffed in, will cause unnecessary wear and tear on your garments.
If you’ve ever owned pure wool, there’s a chance you’ve had to deal with moths. These tiny pests create miniscule holes in any natural wool items (including cashmere and merino), making them look tatty and even unravel.
Total Wardrobe Care (this post isn’t sponsored, we’re just huge fans of Julia Dee’s expertise and passion for a well cared for wardrobe!) offer a huge range of anti-moth solutions, whether you’ve been plagued in the past or are keen to protect your woollen investments for the future.
Laundry cycle and temperature
Firstly, consider the temperature you wash your clothes on. We all know that the hotter the water, the harsher it is on the fibres and colours in your clothing, but cold water can struggle to tackle some types of dirt. Find a balance that works for your water hardness and lifestyle, but 30 degrees can be taken as a good rule of thumb temperature for most of us – it is significantly gentler than 40, and most modern detergents will function well at this temperature. Also remember that manufacturing tolerances for many fabrics (particularly cotton) allow for up to 5% shrinkage. Our factories try to minimise this by pre-washing, but washing your clothes on the coolest and gentlest settings and avoiding tumbling will protect the sizing as much as the colour.
Also, consider how aggressive the wash cycle you use is. Even viscose and modal fabrics will benefit from the most gentle cycle possible (Melissa and I are both big fans of using a delicates wash as standard unless a garment needs more serious washing!). As a general rule, wash cycles run (from least- to most- when it comes to agitation and spin):
- Hand wash/Wool (NOTE: check the temperature of these cycles and adjust down to the coldest setting if you choose to put strictly hand wash items in the machine)
- Delicates (can be useful for very lightly soiled items, especially in small loads)
- Synthetics (this can be a really useful sweet spot between heavy agitation and a delicates cycle)
- Cotton (this is the wash we often default to, but can be aggressive on soft fabrics)
- Hygienic/towels (best kept for cotton and linen towels and sheets)
Be cautious with quick wash cycles – they often incorporate lots of agitation and high spin speeds in order to reduce washing time.
A final note on machine washing: consider which different items go into one wash load – the buttons and flies on jeans and other trousers can create tiny little abrasions on soft jersey, which will eventually lead to further damage. Bra clasps can have a similar effect, but are easily contained within a lingerie laundry bag.
High spin speeds are excellent for helping clothes dry quickly, but can damage fibres and on strong coloured items, allow dye to pool into the creases in the fabric if garments aren’t dried promptly. This can cause garments to look slightly creased even after washing and drying, so always use a modest spin speed to prolong the high quality look of your clothes.
While we increasingly use the hand wash cycles in our machines, genuine hand washing is a very useful tool to have in your arsenal, especially for more delicate fabrics like our cashmere gauze stoles. I love a wool specific detergent for my cashmere in particular, and a gentle soak in a tub of cool water, before being pressed in a towel (never wring out wool) and left to air dry.
Don’t be alarmed if excess dye seeps into the water when hand washing – this happens in the machine too, but we never see it! For this reason, clothes should always be washed with similar colours whether hand or machine washing.
100% Merino wool Connie Sweater
This is covered above, but always worth repeating. Wool shrinks with heat. Ensure the water is tepid when hand washing and if you choose a wool / hand wash setting on your machine, don’t forget to turn the temperature dial to cold.
We always recommend using a colour care detergent on any Kettlewell pieces (or other garments whose colour you want to preserve) – even the palest shades, like Ice Pink and Soft White, will have their pale colours protected, saving them from fading to insipid nothingness over time. Specific detergents for ultra dark colours may also provide additional protection to the deepest colours in your wardrobe (Springs need not worry here!).
Laundry powders are often more effective cleaners than liquid detergent, but can be more aggressive on clothes, so consider your lifestyle and how much actual ‘dirt’ gets on your clothes when choosing a detergent. Water hardness can also affect which one will be most effective for you.
There are all kinds of clever stain removal treatments, which will help remove even the most stubborn marks. Remember to always test the stain remover on a hidden part of the garment first, in case it leeches colour from the fabric along with the stain.
We at Kettlewell are all big fans of a dab of washing up liquid (again, test this on a hidden patch of fabric first, as some washing up liquids are more harsh on fabric than others), particularly for grease marks – simply dab onto the mark, moisten slightly and gently rub in with a finger tip, leave for a few minutes before washing as normal.
Some of the laundry symbols you might see on Kettlewell care labels
Also known as fabric softener, fabric conditioners can often do the exact opposite of what their name suggests. The chemicals in them can destroy any elastane in your garments, making them lose their stretch and shape over time. The chemicals in them can also build up on clothes, reducing the water absorbency of the garment, which means washing becomes less effective over time – this can often be the answer if clothes stop smelling ‘clean’ after a period of regular washing.
The lure of the tumble dryer is almost impossible to resist, but the gentler the cycle, and the less time garments are in there, the longer their lifespan will be. Use a low temperature, gentle setting, and if you can hang clothes out on an airer or line for even a short time before tumbling, or during the summer months. This will all help to protect the fibres of your clothes from damage over time.
Remember that tumble drying can cause shrinkage as well as making clothes look ‘tired’ more quickly.
We don’t want you to become scared of wearing your colours – all of our clothes at Kettlewell are designed to be worn and washed regularly without fading or losing their shape prematurely – but taking a little time to consider how you care for your garments can make a marked difference to how long you’ll get to enjoy them at their full vibrancy for!
Until 19th February 2021 Total Wardrobe Care are offering Kettlewell readers a 10% discount with code TOTAL10