American Apparel and Footwear Association

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Care Instructions

Consumer Information


Washing and drying clothes may seem simple. However, keeping your clothes looking their best takes knowledge and preparation. This easy-to-use guide includes all you need to know about. 


Caring for Your Machine
A clean machine will perform more efficiently and with better results. To remove mineral deposits and other sediment, fill the washer with warm water and 1/2 gallon of white vinegar. (The vinegar will not leave an odor.) Run it through a complete wash cycle without clothing. Your machine is now clean and ready to use.

Choosing a Detergent
Detergent type is really a personal preference. Whether you use a liquid or powder, detergent must be completely dissolved for optimum washing results. Fill the washer with water, then add the detergent. After it's completely dissolved add your clothes.

Determining Proper Load Size
Overloading the machine is a common mistake. It reduces cleaning effectiveness. To test whether your wash load is properly sized, lift the machine's lid and observe the agitiation of a small item such as a blouse. It should surface a minimum of five times in a minute. If it doesn't, the load is too large, meaning garments can't move enough to become clean.

Selecting a Wash Cycle
The cycle designation on the washing machine determines the degree of agitation and the wash time. Refer to the garment care label before choosing the wash cycle. It will indicate the wash cycle you should select for proper care of the garment (see "Sorting By Fabric" below).
Selecting a Temperature
Water temperature is an important factor in getting your clothes clean. Heavily soiled and greasy items are most effectively cleaned in hot or warm water. Again, check garment care labels before choosing the wash temperature.


By Color
Similar colors should be washed together. Whites should never be washed with colored clothing. Although liquid and powdered detergents containing bleach are safe for all colors, it is still best to wash like-colored clothing together. Dark colors should be separated from bright colors. Since bright colors tend to bleed, always test for colorfastness as described in the "Know the Fabric" section.
By Degree of Soiling
No heavily soiled item should be placed directly into the washer. The wash water will become dirty and will redeposit the dirt onto clothing.

Pre-treat heavily soiled items by soaking them in cold or cool water with ammonia and detergent or with detergent alone. After 30 minutes, drain the water, rinse the garments, then launder them according to label instructions.

By Bulk
In order to become truly clean, large, bulky items need plenty of room to move in the washing machine. When laundering things like sweatsuits, sheets and blankets, remember to test the load size as mentioned above in "Determining Proper Load Size."
By Fabric
Like fabrics should be washed together. For example, permanent press garments should be washed with other permanent press items and not with delicates.

Keep heavy lint-shedders (terrycloths, fleece, heavy nap items) away from smooth garments. Also separate man-made fibers (polyester) from natural fibers (cotton). Man-made fibers attract the oils that are released from natural fibers during washing. These oils can build up and make spots more noticeable.


Common Problems

Overloading: Clothes need room to tumble so the hot air can circulate and dry the garments effectively. Don't overload.

Overdrying: Clothes should be left in a dryer just long enough to remove wrinkles and moisture. Any longer can actually "set" wrinkles with heat, increase static cling, and cause shrinkage.

Lint: Lint is detrimental to efficient drying. Lint traps should be removed and cleaned after every cycle.

For Best Results

Shake each item before putting it into the dryer. Clothes with loose wrinkles are easier to dry than those that are tightly wound by the washer's spin cycle.

Sort items into small loads according to weight. Items of equal weight require roughly the same amount of heat to dry. Proper sorting can reduce ironing time, prevent wrinkling, and speed up drying.

Separate permanent press, delicates, natural fibers, and wash-and-wear clothes into separate loads. Again, different types of fabrics require different degrees of drying.

Prevent wrinkles by drying shirts or blouses in shifts. Dry five shirts for three to five minutes, remove two and hang while others continue to tumble. Remove remaining three and hang, insert five new shirts, repeat the procedure.

Special Fabrics

Short cycle/low heat
Remove while still damp. Finish drying on hangers or clothesline.

Short cycle/low heat
Dry carefully. Remove while still damp and lay flat on absorbent towel.

Do not machine dry.

Fabric Softeners
There are many benefits to using fabric softeners. They reduce static cling, minimize wrinkling, and give clothes a pleasant scent. They also make fabrics feel softer and fluffier. They come in three different forms: as a liquid, as a sheet to be used in a dryer, and as a part of the detergent.


How to Hand Wash a Garment
The way a garment is made, its trimmings, and the fabric usually determine whether or not it should be hand washed. Read the care label carefully. It will state specifically "Hand Wash Only." Follow these simple steps for proper hand washing:

Pretreat all spots and stains according to care label instructions.

  1. Fill basin with warmest water safe for fabric.
  2. Add mild soap or detergent and mix thoroughly.
  3. Add clothes, allow to soak.
  4. Squeeze suds gently through fabric. DO NOT RUB.
  5. Rinse several times without wringing or twisting.
  6. Use cool water to reduce and prevent wrinkling.

How to Drip Dry a Garment

When done correctly, drip drying reduces wrinkling and eliminates the shrinkage normally caused by heat. After washing:

  1. Hang garmet on rust-proof hanger without moving excess water.
  2. Blot with towel; do not squeeze, wring or crease.
  3. Fasten zippers, buttons and closures.
  4. Straighten collars and garment lines to hang evenly.
  5. Make sure side seams are vertical; waist and hemlines horizontal.
  6. Smooth stitching with fingers to eliminate puckering.
  7. Keep away from direct heat.



  • Follow care labels
  • Avoid high wash and dry temperatures
  • Use slower agitation


  • Follow care labels
  • Place garment on flat surface such as an ironing board, secure with weights or pins


  • Sort carefully by fabric and garment type
  • Wash heavy lint-shedders (towels, blankets) separately
  • Check washer or dryer for overloading
  • Rewash using fabric softener according to package instructions
  • Make sure all detergent is thoroughly dissolved
  • Clean lint trap after every cycle


  • Pilling is the formation of tiny balls of fabric on the surface of garments. They are the result of abrasion during normal wear and use.
  • Turn garment inside out before washing
  • Use slower agitation and shorter cycles
  • Pull fabric taut over curved surface and carefully cut with scissors


  • Sort diligently
  • Wash in warmest water safe for fabric
  • Treat water source if using hard water
  • Reduce size of load
  • Pre-soak for longer period
  • Rinse immediate after washing


  • Wash in warmest water safe for fabric
  • Add fabric-safe bleach, agitate, then soak
  • Soak overnight in hot water with chlorine bleach, detergent (bleachable fabrics)
  • Soak overnight in hot water with cream of tartar
    (non-bleachable fabrics)

Mineral Stains

  • Filter or treat water supply
  • Make solution of lemon juice and water, then apply directly to stain
  • Launder with rust remover specially formulated for fabrics
  • Avoid chlorine bleach


Understanding what stains are, how they're caused, what removes them, and what "sets" them is absolutely essential for good clothing care. Staining is actually a chemical reaction that takes place between the spilled substance and the fiber, bonding the stain to the fabric. Sunlight, heat, and time all help trigger and strengthen this chemical bonding in varying degrees.
Act Quickly
This is the cardinal rule of stain removal. Immediately blot or wipe the spill. Never rub. A quick rinse of cool water helps prevent most stains from "setting" on washable fabrics. For non-washables, blot with a dry sponge. Never rinse with water.
Know the Stain

Most stains can be generally classified into four categories:

  1. Protein - blood, urine, egg, feces, baby formula, perspiration, deodorant, meat juice, grass, milk, ice cream, dairy and fish products.
  2. Grease - oil, butter, margarine, grease, crayon, cosmetics, mayonnaise, candle wax, gum.
  3. Tannins - coffee, catsup, tea, wine, fruit juice, vegetables, soft and mixed drinks, chocolate.
  4. Combinations of special stains - inks, mildew, scorch, tar, fingernail polish, typewriter correction fluid, mustard, gravy.

Know the Fabric
There are two broad categories for fabric when it comes to removing stains:

Bleachables:White and colorfast items
Non-Bleachables:Non-colorfast items and those labeled non-bleachable.

Read the garment's care label to determine whether or not a fabric is bleachable. If it is not indicated on the label, test a small hidden area for colorfastness. A mixture of 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach and 1/4c. of water applied by drops to a hidden area is sufficient. Let stand one minute, then apply heat. If there is no change in color, the fabric is bleachable.

Know the Remedy
Bleachable or not, all stains call for pretreatment before laundering. This can range from soaking to sponging depending on the stain. Again, knowing the type of stain and the fabric will dictate the remedy. Here are some common stain removal staples:

Use bleaching agents, enzyme presoaks, liquid detergent, laundry detergent containing color safe bleach or containing enzymes, ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, bleach, hand dishwashing detergent or dishwasher compounds. Soak in cool water, rub detergent directly on stain, launder in hottest permissible water. Repeat. For stubborn stains soak 30 minutes in warm water with detergent containing enzymes. Never use bleach with enzyme-fortified detergent because it deactivates the enzymes. Non-chlorine bleaches can be used on all fabrics. Use chlorine bleach only on colorfast fabrics, never on silk or wool.

Use absorbents such as cornmeal, talcum powder, chalk, fuller's earth. Apply to stain, let stand 15 minutes, brush or vacuum off, launder as usual.
Use prewash soil and stain removers such as drycleaning solvents, amyl acetate (banana oil), detergents, glycerin, and water. Use on washable fabrics before laundering. Permanent press items require special solvents.
Use detergents containing color safe bleach or use white vinegar and washing detergent. Soak in warm water. Apply directly to stain, rinse, and launder in hottest water safe for fabric. Use bleach if stain does not respond. Never use bleach first or in combination with other agents.
Use solvents such as drycleaning fluid (consult your drycleaner), spot remover, rubbing alcohol, acetone. Apply directly to stain. Never use in combination with water or in washing machine.