Ever reached for that favorite soft, snuggly tee again and again? Of course you have – but have you ever considered the best way to look after that t-shirt, so it can be a part of your regular rotation for years to come?
Without the proper care, tees can show their age sooner than we’d prefer. Thankfully there are many ways you can extend the life of your favorite t-shirts and keep them looking as good as new.
We’ve gone into detail on the different types of fabric and their care needs, the top techniques for washing and drying t-shirts, as well as storage tips to help ensure that cherished band tee or gift from someone special stays in great shape.
Let’s dive in.
Understanding the fabric
Getting to know some of the basics around different fabrics and how they should be looked after can give your tees a shot at a long and happy life in your closet rotation. Cotton or cotton blends are the most common t-shirt material; this is a hardy, natural fiber which can go in the dryer on a gentle cycle, but can shrink if it’s on a hot wash or dry.
Polyester is another very popular fabric used for tees, especially sportswear. This synthetic material is acceptable for washing on low heat and tumble drying. It’s not a natural fiber, so be careful on a hot wash cycle, as it can actually melt – not something you want to be stuck inside your machine.
Other materials can be used for tees, such as wool blends which require low heat; otherwise, they’ll look more like dolls’ clothes. Linen is another t-shirt option that wrinkles easily and needs regular ironing to look just as good as the day it was first purchased.
If in doubt, always check the t-shirt’s care label to understand best what washing and drying settings it needs.
How to keep your tees pristine
Ready to crack on with washing your t-shirts? Here’s the lowdown on looking after your tee collection so they go through multiple washes without fading, cracking or peeling.
Cold water washing
It can be tempting to stick cotton tees on a hot wash to ensure they’re getting clean, but it can have the opposite intended effect and leave t-shirts faded and shrunken.
Instead, try washing your tees on a cooler or cold setting to preserve better colors and prints, which in turn will make them last longer. (Not to mention, it’s more energy efficient than a hot wash.)
Wash them inside out
Turning your tees inside out before washing them has a couple of benefits. First, it helps protect the outer surface and any print or design from the harsh agitation of the washing machine. This can prevent printed designs from cracking or peeling, which is common in heat transfer tees.
Second, the inside of the tee is usually dirtier from being in direct contact with body oils and sweat! This way, you’re ensuring the dirtiest part of the garment gets cleaned while preserving the design simultaneously.
Avoid the dryer
Sure, dryers are convenient, but even on a low-heat setting, they can drastically shorten the life of your t-shirts. The heat and movement of the machine can cause shrinking, color fading and general wear and tear.
If it’s a nice day, air drying your t-shirts on a line or airer will help to maintain the shape and color of your clothes. It works exceptionally well for thicker tees to stop them from stretching out. Avoid drying clothes in strong sunlight, as this can fade the colors as if you’d put them in the dryer.
Iron with care
Nobody wants to go out with a wrinkled tee, but ironing correctly is vital to avoid the common pitfalls. Generally, cotton and natural fibers can handle a higher heat setting, while synthetic fabrics like polyester require a lower setting to avoid melting or becoming shiny.
If you want to protect any printed designs from the iron, turn them inside out or put a towel between the iron and the tee. And finally, don’t iron wet or damp clothes as it can stretch out t-shirts way before their time.
Top t-shirt storage tips
The t-shirt care doesn’t stop with the washing and drying – there are ways to help protect your tees in between wears to help them last longer. Here are some ideas on how to keep your clothes in tip-top shape.
Fold, don’t hang
Depending on the material, tees can be pretty delicate – especially if they’re like a wool blend mix. This means they can stretch out if hung on hangers for long periods. Instead, folding your t-shirts will help to preserve the garment’s shape for much longer as it reduces the stress on the fabric. If in doubt – folding is golden!
Protect from dust and pests
If you have seasonal t-shirts that you wear on rotation, consider how you’re storing these tees for an extended period to avoid pests like moths, silverfish and carpet beetles from ruining your clothes.
Airtight plastic storage containers or vacuum-sealed bags will help protect your seasonal tees from nasty pests and dust. Be sure to use a breathable material where possible to avoid moisture build-up.
Avoid stuffing the drawer
Of course, it’s tempting to buy as many t-shirts as possible and think about storage later. But overcrowding your drawers with too many tees can cause unnecessary friction between each one and stop proper air circulation from flowing, which stops clothes from going musty.
If you can’t bear to part ways with any of your t-shirt collection, folding more efficiently or adding extra storage are two potential solutions to the problem.
Organize and rotate
To ensure even wear, try to rotate your t-shirts regularly instead of always wearing the ones at the top of the pile (easier said than done, we know). This helps to extend the life of your most-used tees.
Channelling your inner Marie Kondo and getting organized with your tees can help make finding what you’re looking for easier and prevent the tees from becoming squished together. It’s a win-win!
Your t-shirt collection is an expression of your personality, so it deserves a little TLC. By understanding the type of fabric and providing the care required, you can significantly extend the lifespan of your tees and keep them looking newer for longer.
Now that you know how to maintain your favorite tees, wouldn’t it be great if you could easily find top-quality, personalized t-shirts that fit your style and budget? We’re on hand to help you compare the best custom apparel printing companies in the business – start shopping for the best deal right away.
Zach Aries is an entrepreneur committed to providing personalized service and satisfaction across America. From businesses to charities, Zach ensures every client receives top-notch treatment. His dedication to excellence shines through in his work, whether it’s crafting quality custom apparel or sharing insights in printing and T-shirt reviews.