Guy Files: How To Wash Your Wardrobe

By Josh Nichols
In Style

Washing your clothes should be a simple task, but it isn’t as easy as you might think. Every garment you buy comes with care instructions that most of us don’t take the time to read. Actually, even reading the care tag can be a daunting task. Many of them are written in laundry care symbols that are impossible to decipher (You can find an online reference for those symbols here). But caring for your favorite garments doesn’t have to be difficult. Take a look at some of the items in your closet and we’ll give you some basic care instructions to help all of your clothes last longer.

Image courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Denim is probably the trickiest item in your closet and there are a couple of different schools of thought when it comes to caring for it. First of all, if you are buying high-end denim, most enthusiasts will tell you not to wash it. I’ll admit, I try to wash my denim as little as possible, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.

I can tell you from experience, the quickest way to ruin a good pair of jeans is putting them in the washing machine. Not only will machine washing shrink your denim, but it will cause them to fade and wear faster.  Wash your jeans as little as possible.

You can keep them fresh, bacteria-free, and odor-free by tossing them into the freezer overnight once a week instead of a full wash. If you have to wash them, do it in your bathtub in tepid water and about 1 1/2 cups of salt instead of detergent. Submerge your denim, inside out, and leave them for about a half hour. Give them a good rinse, and hang them up to air dry.

T-Shirts are much easier to care for. Most of them can be thrown in the washer on warm with no problem. The exception to this rule would be cost. My rule of thumb is if you spend more than $30-40 on a t-shirt, wash it on cold.

If you want them to last, avoid the dryer. Honestly, most of my T-shirts are fine on a low dryer setting, but air drying will make them last much longer. It’s important to remember that if you do toss them in the dryer, take them out immediately when they are finished to avoid wrinkling the fabric. Ironing a t-shirt should never be necessary.

Dress Shirts
If you spend a lot of money on your dress shirts, it can be a little scary to toss them into the washing machine. Truly, you aren’t going to ruin them by machine-washing them on warm with a low spin setting—the dryer is where you can get into trouble. To make your shirts last longer, hang them to air dry. You can make life easier for yourself by ironing them when they are still slightly damp.

If there is one thing I’ve ruined in the wash more than any other, it’s a sweater. When it comes to knits, the type of fabric is really important. If your garment is cotton, it is safe in the wash on a delicate setting. Turn it inside out to avoid unnecessary wear. Let it air dry flat, as a hanger can cause stretching in the shoulders.

Wool should be washed on cold inside of a mesh garment bag to keep it from rubbing against the inside of your washing machine. Hand-washing is an even better option for wool. Cashmere should always be washed by hand in some tepid water with just a little detergent. Give it a gentle rub, and then let it soak about 10 minutes before letting it air dry flat.

Suits and Blazers
When it comes to caring for your suits, take them to the dry-cleaner. This is one thing you should never attempt to wash yourself. Jackets and blazers do not need to be dry-cleaned every time you wear them. Take them to the dry cleaner two-three times a year. Remember, you don’t wear them directly on top of your skin. Just like your winter coats and spring jackets, a blazer does not need to be washed every time you wear it. Always hang your blazers up: Use a wooden hanger to help it keep its shape, and always place suits in a garment bag when you travel.

Josh Nichols is a 15-year industry veteran who is a nationally recognized expert in hair styling. A St. Louis native, Josh attended Current Trends Academy and went on to become a top revenue stylist at the award-winning American Image Salon in Chesterfield. Josh opened his first salon—Josh Nichols Studio—in 2010. He has since expanded his services, added employees and relocated to Clayton, renaming his salon KINK Hair in 2012. His latest project, Notch, is a men’s barbershop concept that opened August of 2014 in The Grove.

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