In Singapore, a country where the weather can be sweltering, it comes to no surprise that printed t-shirts are the most common piece of clothing. Wherever you go, left and right, you are bound to spot people wearing one. In fact, you yourself would have at least one in your wardrobe. Despite how commonly owned they are, not many understand the basics of upkeeping a t-shirt.
Have you ever bought a good piece with an amazing design you loved, but that love faded away along with the print? Or have you ever gotten a cool tee with the perfect graphics only to find it cracked after a few washes? That just means that you, my friend, have fallen victim to the tragedy that is a lack of knowledge on t-shirt care.
Now, why do they fade and print designs crack? What are the causes and how do we prevent them? Needless to say, it is due to wear and tear. It is expected that their condition deteriorates slightly with use. After all, nothing stays the same and the quality of things do decline as time goes by. However, the way they are washed, dried, and folded have a hand in determining how they end up in the long run. Without proper care, printed t-shirts will eventually succumb to the cracking and fading at a quicker pace.
But not to forget though that the type of print makes all the difference too. For instance, a typical print design done with conventional binding is more likely to crack than that of a digital print. This is due to the nature of the print as the latter is incorporated onto the t-shirt, making it less susceptible to fading and cracking.
So what are the ways around keeping t-shirts in tip top conditions and looking brand new? Here are a few tips to help with that.
- Turn Inside Out
The first step to maintaining t-shirts is to turn them inside out before washing them. This reduces direct contact of the prints with external surfaces and also minimises the effects from the tossing and spinning of a washing machine, giving them a fighting chance in preserving the designs and colour against the harsh environment of washing. If you wish for an even more delicate process, you can consider hand-washing them. But no matter how they are washed, be it by hand or machine, always make sure they are turned inside out for maximum protection.
The same goes for ironing. Although it is preferred not to, if you must iron, always do it with your t-shirt inside out. Never place a hot iron directly on the print as the heat will ruin it, dulling the colours and shortening its lifespan. If you simply wish to eliminate the wrinkles, you can easily do so before you hang your tee to dry because the moment it is done with a wash is the ideal time to shape or straighten them out.
- Wash With Cold Water
This might seem a little strange because water is water, right? Wrong. Differing temperatures of water during wash will result in a difference in the outcome. The heat from hot water can bring a negative effect on t-shirt material and print where it promotes shrinkage and also cracking as ink dries up under hot water. So get washing with cold water which is a lot more gentler and allows the graphics to stay intact. Should cold water not be an option, a warmer temperature is still preferable to hotter. Remember, the lower the temperature, the longer the life of the print.
- Hang to Dry Under a Shade
Having t-shirts tumbled dry means causing a lot of friction between them, the washing machine, and other pieces of clothing. With more friction, comes quicker cracking. The best way to go about this is to hang them to air dry. But not under direct sunlight. While the sun does an excellent job at drying things up and the rays kill bacteria and germs, the emitted heat does quite a bit of damage which is similar to what hot water does to it. So instead, hang them t-shirts under a shade where they can dry naturally without the risk of premature cracking.
An additional tip to reduce the friction would be to separate and wash your tees in a laundry bag. This will help to extend the longevity of the graphics and the t-shirt itself.
- Use Only Suitable and the Necessary Amount of Detergent/Soap
When it comes to washing, one might think that using more soap or detergent in the wash would result in cleaner clothes. This is an absolute mistake as not only will that destroy the designs, that can also cause skin itch or rash. Using excessive amounts of soap can lead to the excess not being diluted by water and getting stuck on or between the cloth fibers, which will require another round or two of washing for the t-shirt to be fully rid of, which in turn will accelerate the cracking and fading.
If you’re not careful, you might get skin irritation from the extra detergent. And if you’re allergic to certain ingredients in soap or detergent, the irritation can get quite bad that you’ll need medication for it. Hence, only use an adequate amount of washing liquid or powder. This way, you save your t-shirt, water, detergent, electricity, and possible medication. Never underestimate the power of laundry detergent.
You might think then, what is the sufficient amount to use? Well, that is something not to fret about as you can simply follow the instructions on the package labels. Also, it is better to use a milder form of soap and not the harsher types like bleach, softeners, and those that produce a lot of suds. You won’t want the adhesives getting dissolved and spoiling the print design on your favourite tee.
So there you go. The tips provided above are practical and cost virtually nothing (except perhaps the laundry bag). As a matter of fact, they are cost-saving as a whole and are able to bring new life to any piece of clothing. Follow those simple tips and you’ll be enjoying your t-shirts for a longer time.