Fabric care 101

One way to save money is to learn how to take good care of your clothes.

By Bernardette Sto. Domingo


Don’t you just hate it when your favorite top gets mangled in the wash? With prices of food and clothing going through the roof, properly caring for your clothes is one sure way of saving money. So before throwing your prized and pricey clothing in the wash, heed what the experts have to say about fabric care.



Silk is a strong and durable fiber that doesn’t easily absorb stains because of its shiny surface, said Norma Respicio, Ph.D., textile expert and professor of Art Studies at the College of Arts and Letters of the University of the Philippines. “It’s elastic, durable, and finest and lightest of the fibers. It’s lustrous and shimmering,” she added, citing the book, Fibers natures threads: chemical industries of the Philippines series by the University of the Philippines National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development.

One disadvantage to silk is its high cost. Silk comes from the cocoon of the silk worm and requires a great deal of handling and processing. Dr. Respicio also warned that being a protein fiber, silk is likely to be attacked my mildew or moth.

Washing: While a strand of silk is comparable to steel filament, it still needs to be handled with care. It should be hand-washed, if possible, in lukewarm, soapy water, according to Avoid soaking the fabric. Try adding a few drops of vinegar or sugar to cold water to rinse.

Drying: No twisting please! Silk shouldn’t be twisted or rough-dried. Spread it flat on a towel or sponge to dry. Shirts and blouses can be dried on a hanger.


  • Linen

Linen is traditional in the Philippines. “It comes from the saluyot plant; it’s actually the stem. Fibers are removed from the stem and processed to linen. Some would call [the fabric] ramie. It’s a very absorbent material. It’s one of the ideal materials for tropical countries like the Philippines,” Dr. Respicio said.

Like cotton, linen is comfortable for warm weather because it is absorbent and quick-drying. Linen also sheds dirt easily when washed. Linen is considered a fabric of luxury because of its high cost. Elsewhere, linen is made from flax, a temperamental plant to grow. The quality of linen produced from flax depends on the quality of the plant. In addition, the flax fibers found in the stalk are picked by hand to preserve their integrity—one reason linen is expensive. It is advisable to store linen fabrics rolled instead of folded. Flax fibers such as linen are brittle and may break from constant bending. To prevent this, creases and folds should not occur repeatedly in the same area.

Washing: Hand- or machine-wash linen. Don’t dry clean. According to, the more linen is washed, the softer and more absorbent it becomes. However, linen garments should be washed using a mild detergent diluted in lukewarm or cold water. If you are using a washing machine, set it to a mild wash cycle. Make sure to rinse the fabric thoroughly to remove all soapy residues.

Drying: You may machine-dry linen, or hang it on the line to dry, but avoid wringing it too hard before hanging it out to dry, says. Bring it off the line while it is still damp, because linen tends to acquire a brittle quality if it dries too thoroughly, which is difficult to reverse.


  • Cotton

Cotton is among the best selling fabrics in the world—from underwear to fashion staples like denim jeans, bath towels, bed sheets, and a lot more. It is popular for being breathable and skin-friendly. Cotton is a traditional fabric that easily absorbs color or stain, Dr. Respicio said. It can be washed repeatedly. Wash, dry, and iron cotton as you would linen.

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