It is inevitable that all children and baby clothing will at some point end up covered in an array of different things. Such is life. And the more mobile a child gets, the more that washing pile starts to add up. As parents ourselves we have learnt a few tricks of our own which we would like to share with you. Keep in mind the below advice relates to natural fabrics, as we do not use any synthetic fibres and therefore have no experience with such fabrics. Remember to always read care labels, which are attached to the inside of any clothing item for more detailed instructions for specific products.
Advice on Protecting Clothing:
Firstly, in terms of protecting clothing from potential stains a bib or apron is a fantastic way to do this. As bibs and aprons are made to be washed more often they can withstand regular washing and more aggressive stain removal techniques. By using a bib to protect clothing you are also reducing the need for complete outfit changes and ultimately your washing pile will reduce. Win win.
Our second piece of advice around protecting clothing is to make sure a delicate fabric, such as merino wool, is next to the skin as a base layer, with a more robust fabric (i.e. cotton/linen) over the top. This way the more delicate fabric is less likely to come into contact with potential stains and therefore will not need to be washed as frequently, ensuring its integrity and longevity.
Washing and Stain removal Advice:
We have broken down our washing advice into two main groups of fibres: Merino/Silk and Cotton/Linen/Bamboo
Merino Wool and Silk Garments:
Merino is a tricky beast to clean so that it maintains its integrity and ensures it lasts. Being a very fine wool fibre means it needs to be treated with more care than your typical natural fibre such as cotton, linen and bamboo which are all much more robust. What merino does have going for it in the cleaning department is that it does not need frequent washing. Because of its amazing ability to regulate temperatures and wick moisture form a human body, it has unique deodorising characteristics. This means that merino garments do not absorb smells and body odour, meaning they stay fresher for longer and require much less laundering. This runs true for most natural fibres as they breathe so well. We only recommend washing clothing if there are noticeable stains or smell. This in turn helps to reduce water usage and therefore is beneficial to our environment. Less frequent laundering also increases the lifespan of clothing, meaning you get longer out of your products.
Garments with a silk content (check your care labels in all your clothing) should be treated the same as wool. For instance if you have a garment with a blended fibre content of 50% cotton and 50% silk – wash to the most delicate fibre, in this case silk.
General Machine Washing of Merino/Silk Garments:
For general washing we recommend saving all your merino and wool garments and doing a specific wool wash. You will need a wool detergent and to ensure your washing machine has a wool wash cycle. If your washing machine does not, then make sure your water temperature is cold, spin cycle is low and you use a wool specific detergent.
WARNING: Using regular detergent on woollen products can cause tiny holes to form throughout the fabric. As though a moth has nibbled at it. This is because of tiny amounts of bleach that can be present in regular washing machine detergents and powders.
To dry merino wool products we recommend line dry or drying flat in the shade. Direct sunlight exposure to woollen garments (especially light coloured fabrics) will cause uneven fading.
WARNING: A white merino wool product, will turn a very strong yellow when in direct sunlight.
Merino and Silk products are not recommended to go in a dryer. To ensure their longevity we recommend always line drying as dryers can be too rough and cause some shrinkage and holes in the delicate fabric.
What happens when I get a stain on my merino/silk garment?
While merino needs to be treated with a bit more care than regular natural fibre you are still able to get rid of stains relatively easily.
Generally speaking soaking is not recommended for merino wool products. In our experience it is best to leave stained merino garments dry until you are ready to prep them for the wash. However, there are a few stains that we do not recommend leaving to dry on any clothing:
- They look innocent but once the banana has dried on a textile item it becomes near impossible to remove.
- Poo, especially explosive nappy leaks from babies.
Our advice on removing unruly stains is all about the washing machine prep. We use a bar of Sard Soap (this is in no way a paid advertisement with Sard, it is just the stain removing soap we happen to use and therefore recommend). Using a slight stream of cold running water in a wash sink (warm water sets stains and makes them much harder to remove), we rub the soap over the stained area and then rub the fabric together to get the soap into the fibres and help it to remove unruly stains. Generally you will see the stain wash away instantly, if not keep applying the soap under the running water. If there is still a slight residue then we recommend leaving some soap on the stain and leaving it to soak in for a few hours.
After this prep work, wash your garment on the appropriate wash cycle using the correct detergent.
For Clothing with Fibres such as Cotton, Linen and Bamboo:
Just like Merino garments, the above natural fibres are breathable and therefore will last longer between washes than their synthetic counterparts. Washing clothing only when necessary to remove smell and stains is a more sustainable habit to get into which lessens your washing pile but also is helpful to the planet through using less water and electricity and ensuring clothing lasts longer. Unlike merino and silk fabrics, cotton/linen and bamboo fabrics are more durable and can withstand more abrasive washing practices.
This is great if you have very little time and just need to get the item of soiled clothing off as soon as possible. Leave the clothing to soak in some water to keep the stain loose and deal to it later. Make sure the water is cold, heat can fix stains into the fabric.
This is a copy and paste of the above method of stain removal using Sard Soap for merino and silk garments.
“Our advice on removing unruly stains is all about the washing machine prep. We use a bar of Sard Soap (this is in no way a paid advertisement with Sard, it is just the stain removing soap we happen to use and therefore recommend). Using a slight stream of cold running water in a wash sink (warm water sets stains and makes them much harder to remove), we rub the soap over the stained area and then rub the fabric together to get the soap into the fibres and help it to remove unruly stains. Generally you will see the stain wash away instantly, if not keep applying the soap under the running water. If there is still a slight residue then we recommend leaving some soap on the stain and leaving it to soak in for a few hours.
After this prep work, wash the garment on the appropriate wash cycle using the correct detergent.”
The magic sun bleacher. We all know how strong direct sunlight can be, causing our curtains and clothing to fade. Well it can also be used to our advantage. Stubborn stains such as banana, and that delightful new born poop, can be removed after washing by being laid out in direct sunlight. This method is recommended for lighter colour fabrics, as darker fabrics tend to fade noticeably. Stains that come up really well after being left in direct sunlight include: mandarin/orange juice, banana, and poo to name a few.
See images below.
WARNING: do not dry merino wool garments and products in direct sunlight. They will fade and whites will turn yellow. Merino must be dried in the shade or out of any direct sunlight.