I know we are just out of a late summer (or is it early autumn) heatwave but I am already taking tentative steps to retrieve my clothes from storage, remind myself what I have in my wardrobe and check it is all in good condition, clean and ready to wear!
In recent years I have been trying to overhaul my style choices and invest in 'quality over quantity' and that includes buying less of cheaper man-made, unethical fabrics from the fast fashion outlets. I will now regularly buy items that are preloved, especially cashmere knits or silk dresses and tops. We used to avoid these fabrics because of the dreaded hand wash only or dry cleaning label, now laundry care is so much easier - and better!
Were you aware that the average item of clothing only has two years of use before it is thrown away and that an estimated £140 million worth of clothing goes to landfill every year?
We need to be more willing to wear the same item regularly and restyling our clothing in lots of different ways is something we can all embrace. Cost per wear has always been a key point I keep in mind when buying something - how many different ways can I wear it to make an investment purchase worthwhile? We also need to consider details like the quality of the fabric, the finish used, and be willing to make alterations or repairs as needed. If a hem comes down, fix it don't throw it out!
Clothes Doctor want to bring back the tradition of caring for our clothes, loving them and making them last longer! And with the popularity of preloved, vintage and renting clothes, caring for our clothes has never been more important and relevant.
This blog post is sponsored by Clothes Doctor and contains affiliate links.
In recent years I have been buying more natural fabrics, especially cashmere and silk. And to make it affordable, I buy preloved or look for sale bargains. I have several beautiful knits from Vintage & Vogue, a preloved boutique near me (but also online) and last year I was gifted a stunning bright green cashmere cardigan from online retailer, the Nearly New Cashmere Co. who have the UK's largest selection of immaculate, second hand cashmere.
Because cashmere can be so easily cared for, it makes buying preloved a more cost-effective option. If you care for your cashmere properly then it will extend it's life much more than just throwing it in the washing machine with everything else!
I am a big advocate of not washing knitwear much at all, more on that later. The long, fine fibres in cashmere are less prone to snagging and pilling than wool. And cashmere can be easily brought back to life with simple repairs and good washing. Clothes Doctor offer a Repair, Alter or Restore service and if you use their specialist natural laundry detergents your cashmere will last for a long time. Choosing the best eco-friendly laundry detergents is an essential part of my laundry routine.
The benefits of cashmere
I love my cashmere jumpers, they are lightweight, warm, soft and feel luxurious. Cashmere is highly sought after, it is made from the soft undercoat of cashmere goats and is prized for its fantastic qualities, it is a joy to wear, and always looking sophisticated and expensive.
I love it because it feels so light and isn't bulky, I hate anything too restrictive or uncomfortable under a jacket or coat. But I also use my cashmere knits in the spring and autumn, sometimes you just want to have a jumper to hand should it get chilly and styling a cashmere knit around your shoulders looks super stylish.
As cashmere is a highly breathable fabric it is much better at regulating your body temperature than a man-made fiber - cashmere and wool socks are a must have for February skiing for example! And don't miss my post about the benefits of wool duvets!
Cashmere is also a sustainable and renewable resource, as long as you are investing in the best, higher-grade fibers , cashmere goats are typically only combed or sheared once a year, allowing them to regrow their fine undercoats. It is also biodegradable meaning it breaks down over time reducing its environmental impact. Cashmere is hypoallergenic and for most people is comfortable to wear against the skin and suits sensitive skin. And because cashmere fibers are so durable, it can also be reused and repaired, so jumpers can be repurposed to be used as wrist warmers or scarves for example. Think carefully before throwing cashmere away!
I have retrieved my cashmere knits from storage - next winter I will be using the Protect Me Moth Repellent Scent Bag from Clothes Doctor - but I am happy to see that there are no holes or damage to my cashmere, this has happened in the past so I do need to be more careful.
How to care for cashmere
How I am preparing my cashmere for the coming season ...
Read the care label - I have checked for any specific instructions as different cashmere blends may have slightly different requirements. Generally cashmere labels recommend Hand Wash Only or Dry Clean Only. Fortunately washing machines and laundry powders have moved on so I am very happy to use the gentle hand wash cycle in my machine. This is personal choice though!
Hand wash - using the delicate or wool cycle on your machine and if you want to be extra careful then use a mesh laundry bag to protect the garment from any excessive agitation. I prefer to use 20 or 30 degrees only - be careful here, if your machine is older it may not be accurate on temperature so go lower.
I then add the Eco Wash for Cashmere & Wool from Clothes Doctor into the machines dispenser (for light soiling use 2-3 capfuls (15 ml), for medium soiling use 4-5 capfuls (30 ml) and for heavy soiling use 8-9 capfuls (50 ml)). The machine will gently agitate the knitwear, a hand wash cycle shouldn't go on too long (about 20-25 minutes is a good time) and The Nearly New Cashmere Co recommend following with a fast spin (maximum 1200 rpm) as removing as much water as possible is good for cashmere and helps fluff it up again. Then you need to lay your cashmere on a flat surface, ideally on a clean towel and leave to dry gently.
The Eco Wash for Cashmere & Wool from Clothes Doctor is expertly formulated to be gentle and softening and extend the life of your knitwear. It is lightly scented with Himalayan cedarwood and orange oil to provide a natural moth defence and is the perfect alternative to dry cleaning.
Remove any pilling or bobbling - all cashmere will bobble over time and it is usually a good indicator that your cashmere is due for a wash, much of the pilling will actually disappear during the washing process, but once the jumper is washed and dried then you can use the Clothes Doctor Beechwood Cashmere Comb to gently remove the bobbles from all your knitwear. I do this on my ironing board when I am steaming my knitwear ready to wear, you just gently comb the fiber in one direction to keep pilling to a minimum.
Storage of cashmere - when not in use (and certainly if you store out of season clothes as I do) then place in a breathable garment bag or a clean cotton pillowcase.
Moth protection - when your cashmere is in storage pop in a Protect Me Natural Moth Repellent Scent Bag, moths love cashmere and remember to check your cashmere regularly for signs of any moth activity.
The Protect Me Natural Moth Repellent Scent Bags from Clothes Doctor are a natural moth repellent and wardrobe refresher, they are scented with lavender, patchouli, lemongrass and eucalyptus and you an hang the bag in your wardrobe, leave in a drawer or add to your chosen storage bag.
How often should I wash cashmere?
As little as possible in my opinion, obvious signs of pilling and bobbling is a good indicator your cashmere needs a little love and of course any stains or marks will need to be dealt with quickly. But otherwise I recommend wearing a camisole top or light vest top under your knitwear and this will protect both cashmere and wool from sweat and body oils. I either use the Zara Vests with thin straps or the Airism Vests from Uniqlo.
We are no longer a throwaway culture!
As I have previously admitted I have been a terrible at supporting our throwaway culture in the past But I am learning and small changes do eventually add up. The founder of Clothes Doctor was working in retail for many years but realised it was time to take a long hard look at her own unsustainable shopping habits. When she learnt how much waste is created in the fashion sector, she decided she wanted to build a business that would encourage people to change their habits and extend the life of their clothes.
We throw clothes away for many reasons, sometimes we are just bored of them, or they no longer fit us or suit our body shape, or they've lost their newness from over-washing or lack of proper care.
Clothes Doctor are on a mission to change our habits and in 2017 they started a clothes alteration and repair service as well as launching their range of sustainable laundry detergents and specialist clothing care products. They are proud of their loyal and supportive community and Clothes Doctor continue to be dedicated to cleaning, protecting and repairing clothes just the way our grandparents generation did - extending the life of our clothing and throwing away less!
Laundry day with Clothes Doctor
Next time you are preparing a laundry load, stop and think about the laundry powder and products you are using.
Do they contain natural ingredients? Or are they full of artificial fragrances?
Are you helping to reduce plastic waste?
Do you know what harsh chemicals are in your conventional detergents?
Are your laundry detergents available in compostable packaging?
Have you checked the ingredients list in your laundry detergent products?
Many of traditional liquid detergents we buy without thinking with our weekly shop can have adverse effects on the environment due to the harsh chemicals and toxic chemicals they contain and the way they are used.
For example these detergent options often contain phosphates which enhance cleaning power but they make their way into the water bodies and lead to water pollution and harming of our aquatic water systems. And non-biodegradable surfactants can accumulate in water affecting aquatic life and contribute to the foamy, polluted water we often see in rivers and lakes. Harmful chemicals are damaging to our ecosystems. And traditional laundry detergents need higher water temperature to be effective, leading to increased energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. And finally the microplastics in these detergents can enter the water supply and harm aquatic life.
Clothes Doctor want to mitigate all this by offering ...
Eco-friendly detergents that are biodegradable, phosphate-free and low-surfactant to reduce environmental impact.
With no single use laundry pods and unnecessary extra plastic packaging, every Clothes Doctor product comes with recyclable packaging.
They are a non-toxic laundry detergent option that only use natural fragrance.
The environmental impact of laundry detergents can vary widely depending on the brand and formulation, so it's important to read product labels and choose options that are more environmentally friendly whenever possible.
My top products from Clothes Doctor
I enjoyed exploring the extensive range of eco-laundry detergents at Clothes Doctor. Firstly as you can see, the packaging looks stylish and impressive in my laundry room, but they also come in an extensive specialist range for cashmere and wool, silk, delicates, sportswear and baby.
I loved the Knitwear Mist, another option to reduce the amount of times you wash cashmere, a quick freshen up with the Knitwear Mist (I have the Cedarwood and Vanilla), it is hated by moths and can be sprayed regularly onto knitwear to keep it fresh. And the fantastic Steamer Water cleans, de-creases and freshens with just a simple spray, no need to even get the iron out if you don't want to, or simply add to your steamer to infuse your clothes with a blissful, dreamy scent.
The Eco Wash for Cashmere & Wool Detergent was perfect for my delicate and precious cashmere and my favourite wool knitwear.
But the Signature Eco Wash for everyday washing has been a winner, it is a mineral based detergent that is effective for stain removal, is free from toxins and harsh chemicals and is perfect for low water temperatures, it has a lovely fragrance and. you don't need much of it!
I also added the Tough Love stain removal to my order from Clothes Doctor, I've not used it yet, but it is recommended as brilliant for removing tough stains like wine, grass or coffee, it is a powder formula with a natural scent and is kinder to the environment than chlorine bleach based stain treatments and it won't fade colour-fast fabrics. The Tough Love stain removal is not suitable for use on cashmere, silk or wool.
Recyclable bottles from Clothes Doctor- it's easy, when you need a refill, simply the atomiser head and attach it to your new bottle, the Steamer Water and both Knitwear Mists offer this option. Other products are packaged in plastic free, infinitely recyclable bottles - no more single-use plastics!
Clothes Doctor offer different size options including a fantastic travel size in their Travel Essentials range and a subscribe and save service so you never run out of your favourite eco laundry detergents.
When I was out for lunch a few months ago with Tracey from Fighting Fifty, we got chatting about 'Darning Needles' and the next time we met up, she bought one for me! Now safely in my sewing kit (yes I still have the one my mum made for me) with other essential clothing care tools - do explore the range available at Clothes Doctor, it is lovely to see the old fashioned sewing accessories back in vogue!
Clothes Doctor offer free shipping when you spend £40 and get 15% off your order using my code FAF15.
I've always loved caring for my clothes properly and I even don't mind ironing - not the actual process but the finished result, I love a freshly pressed garment, it feels like new again! I inherited that from my mum, in fact even as her dementia progressed, she still enjoyed ironing, as a teenager it was often the time I'd sit and chat to her, while she was busy ironing!
Our changing attitudes and more eco-conscious sustainable lifestyles are encouraging us to wear our clothes more often and in different ways (a dress with heels for a night out or the same dress with trainers for a day shopping) making our style choices much more versatile. And we are returning to the mindset that we can repair our clothes too.
We are also more conscious of how we dispose of our clothing, I no longer just take things to landfill but will make considered decisions - charity shop, sell on Vinted (read this guide on how to sell on Vinted), sell through a preloved boutique or if all else fails then donation via a Rag Bag. We've gone full circle and we are back to the habits from our grandparents generation, clothes are not disposable, single use items, they have multiple lives and lots of uses. Look after them well and you will have many years of joy from everything you buy.
Disclaimer: this blog post was sponsored by Clothes Doctor, I was gifted some products to review and I am using affiliate links (for my details on how I work please visit 'the legal stuff' on my blog).
Welcome to Fifty & Fab, a lifestyle blog to inspire you. I am a blogger with a passion for writing about health, menopause, fitness, beauty and style with a focus on the over 50's.
Subscribe below to receive regular updates by email:
Hi, I’m Michelle and my blog Fifty & Fab is all about my journey into and through my 50s. I started this blog in 2016 with the purpose of helping other women at this stage of life. I’m delighted that my blog has grown to over 13k visitors per month. Visit my Work with Me page and request my Media Kit for details of product reviews, blogging services and social media content creation.
Join my mailing list (above) for regular updates and don’t forget to look at my social media pages too..