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.


Your wardrobe

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.


100% Cotton styles – Dina Sweatshirt, Monaco Stripe Top and Chloe Jacket

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.


Spin speed

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.

Hand washing

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

Washing wool

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.

Which detergent?

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.

Stain treatment

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

Fabric conditioner

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.

Tumble drying

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

Jacky Thompson on Sep 10, 2021 9:19 PM

I always put my Kettlewell items (and other delicates) in a mesh laundry bag when washing them. I would too often end up with a lot of very small holes in an item but since using a washbag, the problem has gone away 😁

Jennifer on Mar 05, 2021 10:08 AM

Stain treatment away from home: shampoo works well. Apply like washing up liquid.

Jacqueline McGrady on Feb 24, 2021 12:30 PM

Agree with Una. I do not put anything with elastane in my tumble dryer. I do not put anything in which says “do nit tumble dry”. Wash woollens on a cold wool wash in my machine. My other clothes on delicates silk programme. Hang on coat hanger to dry and never needs ironing. Even stopped ironing cotton pillowcases and tea towels now as creases drop out. Bought an expensive iron but isnot used much.

Jacqueline McGrady on Feb 24, 2021 12:24 PM

Managed to place an order today (24th) using code TOTAL10. Thank you for sorting this for me. Bought moth stuff as my bedroom us so hot in the summer and ideal for moths.

RENAY EARNSHAW on Feb 20, 2021 2:33 PM

Going into my wardrobe is usually a frustrating experience - it feels crammed and a bit of a mess despite numerous attempts to organise it. It’s also all very precariously balanced - I move one garment and another slips of its hanger. I put the fallen item back into place and another slips off, or the hanger gets entangled. I also own a mixture of hangers from different shops that I’ve acquired over the years - most of them aren’t great quality and result in odd-looking lumps and bumps in the shoulders of my tops.

So I decided to buy some hangers from Total Wardrobe Care and I'm really impressed with the quality and how well they work. They look beautiful, so I already feel calmer when I survey the contents of my wardrobe and because they’re so slim they don’t take up much room or distract from the clothes. They’re also very grippy, so nothing slips off as I move things around. The accessories I bought keep strappy camisoles firmly in place and mean that I can stack matching items together.

I’m going to convert my whole wardrobe to the new regime and make it a less stressful space. Thanks for pointing me to these useful devices.

Jacqueline McGrady on Feb 19, 2021 10:35 PM

Tried to place an order using TOTAL10 but it did not work agai8n.

Kettlewell Colours: Jackie, thanks for letting us know. So sorry about this. We have contacted Total Wardrobe Care and they say the code should now be working and they have extended the expiry date to 28th February.

Sue Berry on Feb 16, 2021 3:21 PM

Thanks for the blog it was useful information. I invested in a washing machine that provides a film of water between clothes and the drum itself which prevents pilling and laddering of items. I noticed a difference. Unless you have to I avoid fabric softener one brand has lavender which I use with woollens.

RENAY EARNSHAW on Feb 14, 2021 3:54 PM

The discount code for Total Wardrobe Care is reported as having expired when I attempt to use it.

Kettlewell Colours: Apologies! Thanks for letting us know. Not sure what happened on Sunday but we have just tried the code and it seems to be working now (Tuesday 16th). Would you mind trying again and it should work. If not let us know and we will contact Total Wardrobe Care.

Jackie McGrady on Feb 14, 2021 3:53 PM

Tried to use the coupon code TOTAL10 and it has expired. Said on the blog it was value until 19 Feb and only 14 Feb today.

Kettlewell Colours: Apologies! Thanks for letting us know. Not sure what happened on Sunday but we have just tried the code and it seems to be working now (Tuesday 16th). Would you mind trying again and it should work. If not let us know and we will contact Total Wardrobe Care.

Jayne McClelland on Feb 14, 2021 10:06 AM

This is really helpful and I have made changes to how I wash my clothes from your blogs. I recently moved and bought a new washing machine. There is more variety than I have ever had, a spin range of 400-1400, long washes of over 3 hours and short washes and so on. I presume a long wash is potentially more damaging to fabrics? I use regular non bio powder, a lavender wool wash and an antibacterial wash. Would the latter be harsh on KW clothes? Am considering trying Woolite that was mentioned in KCC is this for all clothes or just wool? My tumble dryer does have a short programme and lower temp, it took ages to get there as the display in in Swedish! I do short tumbles on my KW clothes to par dry them. What is your view on this? (I have to say my KW clothes are all in fab condition and I still have my first purchase from 6 years ago and it's perfect!) This is a bit longer than I intended.

Sheila Rose Wlkins on Feb 13, 2021 12:50 PM

Love your products, colours wonderful and I found the article on washing very useful and interesting. Thank you.

Eileen Mitchell on Feb 13, 2021 11:59 AM

Thank you for such an informative blog. I did learn something new and so it was well worth reading. I would add that I always turn my clothes inside out before washing as I feel it helps the fabric. I hope that it does!!

Jackie Gardner on Feb 13, 2021 8:45 AM

This is such a useful article, thank you. A lower temperature and spin speed makes such a difference to the life of garments.

Una on Feb 12, 2021 8:22 PM

Don't believe in tumbler driers! Wash inside out, 30°C, shortwash, 800 spin, no softener - not even in London when I was there with the hardest of waters. Get them hung up straight out of the machine and you won't have any ironing. Never ironed one single KW top in my life in the past 14 or 15 years. Merino wool jumpers, even though marked hand wash, washed in the machine with my other cashmeres. Stone coldwash in Persil silk and wool liquid. 400 spin and hang up in the warmth or outside. Nothing has ever shrunk on me. Yes, original Fairy liquid to get any grease stains out, and Vanish suitable for colours for anything else that has stained, like beetroot. That's how I look after my KW clothes! I wash nothing by hand as it is so hard to rinse out all the suds and then not waste endless gallons of water - or now litres for most of you!

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.