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How To

How to Master the 3 Most Common Sustainable Fashion Challenges

May 6, 2019

Regardless of your style profile, we can all agree that making more sustainable fashion choices is a decision worthy of our attention. With mounting reports of the effects of fast fashion on our ecosystem, we’re sharing ways for fellow fashionistas to reduce the impact their retail therapy has on Mother Nature.

One way is to purchase high-quality pieces and learn proper care techniques to extend the lifespan of your garments, including avoiding the dry cleaner. Thrifting and shopping vintage are other sustainable practices that can keep clothing in closets and out of landfills. You can find a how-to for every textile imaginable in our Fabric A to Z Guide. Here, we’re sharing the most common challenges that come up when caring for reloved pieces and how to overcome them.


Missing a Label? Perform a Water Test

dipping shirt in water

Many thrifted treasures are missing just one thing – a care tag. Prior to caring for any item, vintage or otherwise, we always recommend checking the label to determine what the garment is made of. If there’s no label, conduct a water test by filling a wash basin, sink or small bowl full of cold water. Find an nondescript area such as a sleeve or the bottom of the piece to dip into the water. Pay attention to any bleeding or loss of color and whether or not the fabric ripples or tightens. Silk commonly bleeds. As long as the item is one solid color, it’s okay to wash.

However, for color blocked silks, colors may run together so if you see bleeding during the water test, do not launder at home. The same goes for pebbled fabrics which may lose their texture during the laundering process. Viscose items may tighten, and that means you cannot launder the item at home and it should be taken to the dry cleaner.

See You Later Stains

pouring stain solution on shirt

Surprisingly, scoring a stained piece can be one of the best fashion finds possible but people often discard items before even trying to tackle a stain. These gems can often be revitalized with a little detective work and some elbow grease.

First, determine whether the item can be washed by checking the care label and performing a water test, if needed. Then, try to identify what the stain is. For tannin stains like wine, berries, tomato sauce, and chocolate, our Stain Solution will be your product go-to. Stain Solution is also best for pit stains and pen marks. A how-to for these stains can be found here. For oil-based stains like grease, sunscreen, and dirt, grab our Wash & Stain Bar and follow the steps here.

Don’t Let Smells Scare You

hand spraying delicate spray on garment

Between that telltale “thrift shop smell” and musky odors common in pieces that have been stored for long periods of time, you’re bound to find a scent you want removed from reloved garments. The good news is, it’s easier than you might think.

To eliminate smells that may have been absorbed by your washable clothing or other textiles, pretreat by soaking the item in a wash basin or sink filled with one capful of Scented Vinegar and cool water (water temperature will vary depending on fabric type) or apply directly to odor area before washing. Soak cotton and durable synthetics for at least one hour and woolens for no longer than 30 minutes. Run a wash cycle adding one cup of Scented Vinegar only. Follow with a regular wash cycle using the appropriate detergent.

For items that can’t be laundered at home, try freshening with one of our fabric sprays like Fabric Fresh Classic, Wool & Cashmere Spray or Delicate Spray depending on the material type.

Be sure to consult our Fabric A to Z Guide for instructions on laundering any type of garment by fabric type.

Get the tools you need Shop the Story
Stain Solution

Remove Old & New Stains

Add to Bag |
$19
Scented Vinegar

Clean & Deodorize

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$13
Fabric Fresh Classic

Freshen & Deodorize

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$16
Wool & Cashmere Spray

Freshen & Preserve Woolens

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$10
Delicate Spray

Freshen Silk, Synthetics & Blends

Add to Bag |
$10
Wash & Stain Bar

Spot Treat or Handwash Anywhere

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$6.50
Stain Brush

Conquer Tough Stains

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$10.50
All-Purpose Bleach Alternative

Whiten & Brighten

Add to Bag |
$16
Wash Tub Basin

For Handwashing

Add to Bag |
$40
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