We all have that favorite t-shirt. The one that fits just right. The one you wore when you caught a foul ball at Wrigley. The one that you swear helped out with that scratch ticket win.
But life takes its toll on all clothing, including your lucky cotton t-shirt. Colors fade. Stains multiply. Seams rip. But there are a few simple washing & drying tips to make sure your cotton t-shirt lasts until its luck runs out — without shrinking.
Stick to Warm Water
When it comes to washing your cotton t-shirts, the first thing to pay attention to is the water temperature. You wouldn’t want to take a bath in water that’s too hot or too cold. Well, neither do your cotton t-shirts.
Cold water won’t ruin anything, but it also might not do a great job getting that ketchup stain out. On the other hand, hot water can cause shrinkage. Warm water is a happy medium: it’s hot enough to help remove stains, but it won’t damage or misshape the fabric.
Like with Like
Your mom probably taught you to wash whites with whites and colors with colors. But really, who has time for that? Well, if you want to keep your t-shirt looking like new, this is one sacrifice you’re just going to have to make.
Dyes from non-white clothing can and will leach into other clothing. You might not notice it right away, but soon that sparkly white t-shirt will start looking like an off-white-gloomy-day-sky t-shirt.
So do two loads of laundry. Your cotton t-shirts will thank you. And give your mom a call to tell her she was right all along.
The Science of Stains
Here’s some high-school chemistry for you: stains are actually chemical reactions. Rather than sit on top of the fabric, stains actually chemically bond with it at a molecular level, which means they can be pretty tough to remove. To complicate things even further, different stains bond differently. Oil is different from wine, and has to be tackled differently.
That’s why there are stain removers. Think OxyClean, Shout, Clorox, and more. And different stain removers specialize in removing different kinds of stains.
So if you have a stubborn stain that just won’t come out with normal detergent, try out a stain remover. It might just be the miracle worker you’re looking for.
A word of warning: unless you have an oxidisable stain (coffee, tea, red wine), try to stay away from bleach. It can cause spotiness.
Dryers are one of the great time-saving inventions of the 20th century. But all that heat and tumbling can be pretty rough on even the most durable shirts. And with enough heat, you run the risk of shrinking your cotton t-shirt.
We’re not saying you shouldn’t throw your shirt in the dryer. But maybe go easy on it. To avoid shrinkage, try drying on medium or even low heat. And if your shirt is still a little damp when the cycle is over, a quick go on the ironing board can get rid of the last bits of moisture without damaging the cotton.