The laundry cycle takes a serious toll on cotton t-shirts. Frequent washing and drying causes fabric to break down quickly. While we don’t recommend never washing your t shirts, you can probably get away with wearing them a couple of times before throwing them in the wash. If you only wore a shirt for a few hours and didn’t sweat or spill anything on it, there is no reason to wash it right away.
If you want to freshen up your favorite shirt in between washings, throw it in the dryer for a few minutes on the “fluff” or “no heat” setting. Toss in a dryer sheet for a burst of fresh fragrance without all the wear and tear of completely laundering a mostly clean shirt.
WASH INSIDE OUT
Before you throw a cotton t shirt in the washing machine, turn it inside out. This is especially important if it is screen printed or otherwise decorated. There are a few reasons to do this. First, turning shirts inside out helps prevent images from being damaged during the wash. It also helps keep dark and bright colors from fading.
Turning your shirts inside out might also help get them cleaner. Think about it—the inside of your shirt is the part that is up against your body. It absorbs your sweat throughout the day, so, chances are, it’s dirtier than the outside. By turning them inside out, you can be certain that your washing machine handles the worst of the grime.
DON’T OVERLOAD THE WASHER
When you are trying to save time and use less water, cramming the washer as full as possible may seem like a great idea. It really isn’t, though. In fact, overloading the washer is actually harmful to your clothing and the machine itself. Clothes do not get as clean when the washer is overloaded, and they rub together so much that the fabric can be damaged.
Clothes partially get clean in the washer due to the friction that occurs when the agitator moves them around. When everything is packed in too tightly, though, it can cause too much friction and result in delicate fabrics like cotton breaking down prematurely.
Doing multiple loads will take more time—especially if you’ve fallen behind on laundry—but it will help protect your cotton t shirts from damage, and you won’t have to worry about wasting time rewashing items that were not properly laundered the first time around.
BE CAREFUL WITH BLEACH
Bleach may seem like the best solution for washing your white cotton tees, but it should be used with caution. If you are dealing with sweat stains, it may not even work. If you just want to brighten up a load of whites, be sure to properly dilute it. When used in too high a concentration, chlorine bleach can be extremely harmful to cotton.
Never use chlorine bleach when washing non-whites, and be sure not to drip even a drop on your colored tees. Color-safe bleach is a much better and safer solution for keeping whites their whitest and brights their brightest.
GO EASY ON DETERGENT AND FABRIC SOFTENER
Just about everyone who does laundry is guilty of occasionally using too much detergent or fabric softener in a load. In addition to being wasteful, this can harm your clothing. Many people mistakenly believe that more detergent equals greater cleaning power, but, in reality, it has the opposite effect. The extra detergent settles on clothing and makes it stiff, dull, and uncomfortable. Too much fabric softener can have the same effect.
Try using half as much detergent as usual and adding ½ cup of baking soda. The baking soda acts as a detergent booster and deodorizer that allows you to get your clothes cleaner without using more detergent. Baking soda won’t harm your cotton tees. You may be surprised to see just how clean and comfortable they come out when using this simple trick.