I've learned a lot of lessons since becoming a parent, big and small. And although many have been heartstring tugging and life changing, others have been, well, less emotionally driven and more real life practical - like the fact that toddlers (and all kids, as I'm told) are freaking messy. I can't tell you how many times every single day I change what Essley is wearing because she spilled what she was eating or spit out her juice or rolled around in the mud (or worse). I mean, the washing machine is full of food or dirt (or, again, worse) caked toddler clothing at all times. It's dirty business guys. And man does repeated washing of a garment take its toll. When I was working in the fashion industry, I learned first hand how harsh detergents and other effects of laundering substantially decreased the lifespan of apparel (and made them look like crap in the process), and more recently, I've really started being mindful of this when taking care of Essley's clothes. Although she's still growing quickly and only able to wear her clothing for limited periods (like all kids), it doesn't take much time for it to look worn out or even fall apart. And I've noticed a big difference since I started being more cautious with how I laundered her garments. So today I'm sharing some tips for things that have worked first hand for me in keeping my little one's clothes in great shape.
1. Sort and Separate. This might sound like a no-brainer, but it's so easy to blow off when you're rushed. I found that in the first several months of doing baby clothes there was just so much (and I was so tired) that I tended to just mindlessly throw everything together to get it over with. I learned the hard way what a nightmare that can create. Taking the extra few minutes to separate light from dark colors and delicates from regular laundry can end up being the difference between a completely ruined load of laundry and a long-lasting kiddie wardrobe.
2. Hang dry. I know. This sounds like a huge pain. But trust me, how you dry your clothing makes a massive difference in terms of how it lasts and how good it looks. The heat from dryers can fade colors, break down fabrics, damage trim and buttons, and cause garments to over shrink. Hang/line drying is also better for the environment, fellow eco-conscious folk. I admittedly don't have the time to hang dry every piece of Essley's clothing, but I always do it with pricier and more delicate pieces.
3. Close it up. Since I've started making sure to zip every zipper, button every button, snap every snap, and close every piece of Velcro on Essley's clothes, I've noticed much less snagging of other garments and a lot less missing pieces of trim. I've also noticed knit items with zippers like her hoodies have better retained their shapes.
4. Turn inside out. This especially holds true for items like screen printed shirts or pieces with decorative trim, but it's a good idea for anything you wash. The agitator in the washing machine rubs against clothing, and friction is also created between fabrics. I've noticed that when I turned Essley's clothes out before I wash, they fade less and look much newer than when I don't.
5. Choose your laundry detergent wisely. This one is big. Since the beginning of my clothing designer days, I've always recommended using a gentle (but effective) natural detergent. Harsh detergents can seriously strip all the goodness from a garment, and if it's a kid's garment that's going to be washed over and over, it won't take much time to do its damage. I'm a big fan of method's new 4x concentrated laundry detergent - it's got naturally derived cleaning power that's been proven to remove tough dirt and stains. It's also biodegradable and hypoallergenic (which is great for little ones), and it works great in cold water (see #2 and how heat can damage fabrics). And it can be used as a really effective pre-treat for stains, which is another bonus when you're dealing with kids' laundry. Can I also say how much I love that it's earth friendly? (Pssst… If you want to try out method's awesome new concentrated detergent for yourself, use the code THREEFORME right here and you'll get $3 off your online purchase.)
I hope this proves helpful for my fellow parents hoping to keep their little ones' clothes in good shape (and for those of you who would like to make your own clothing last longer too!). What do you do to keep your babe's clothes (or yours) in good condition? Any laundry tips I might have missed?
P.S. Hey fellow fans of method and ASOS! If you love these brands as much as I do, you'll be stoked to learn that the two have teamed up to create a curated spring collection (called ASOS X) that focuses on playful, easy-to-clean pieces. Available now through June 30 on ASOS, the line brings together functional fashion and gentle clothing care. That yellow skirt is mine!
This post is in partnership with method. Thank you for supporting Bubby and Bean by allowing us to post occasional sponsored content. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
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