How to Properly Care for Your Summer Wardrobe

Summer wardrobes are for fun. More than any other time of the year, shedding your work clothes and getting into something comfortable is the high point of the day! Bared shoulders, lacy tank tops, shorts, faded denim and gauzy cotton dresses make summer the height of carefree fashion. But unless you’re a Kardashian (who undoubtedly has wardrobe attendants), you need to know how to properly care for your summer finery.

The fabrics of summer

Hot days and nights call for breathable fabrics of natural fibers like cotton, linen and silk. Natural fibers wick away perspiration and sweat, keeping you cooler when the temperatures climb. Synthetic fibers and fabric blends of cotton, polyester, spandex, nylon and rayon hold their shape well, resist shrinking and generally are machine-washable and dryer-safe. This makes them especially easy-care for summertime, when no one wants to be stuck in the laundry room!

Check the garment labels as you shop so you can select clothing that you’ll love to wear and be willing to care for. Labels can give fabric content and care instructions, so you’ll know what you’re getting. If hand-washing is not in your universe, steer clear of silk, rayon and linen. Focus on pre-shrunk cotton, fabric blends and synthetics like polyester, nylon and acrylic that can be machine washed and dried.

To help you have a summer wardrobe that keeps you ready for anything, here are some tips from Tailored Living® for caring for your clothes from closet to laundry room so you’ll always be well-dressed around the pool, at a picnic or barbeque, or for an evening out on the town.


100% cotton is probably the coolest natural fiber for summer, and is used for every type of clothing, including undies, tops, shorts, skirts, dresses and shirts. But cotton has a tendency to shrink unless the fabric is preshrunk. Check the garment tag so you’ll know how to best care for each piece.

  • When washing colors, use cool water and a color-safe detergent.
  • White cotton garments can be bleached if they are stained or dingy and a second rinse or one cup of white vinegar in the final rinse will get rid of any chlorine smell. Or, one alternative to chlorine bleach is OxiCleanTM, an all-fabric bleach that cleans and whitens.
  • To dry cotton, hang dry or use a low heat dryer setting to minimize any shrinkage.


Linen is a natural fiber made from the flax plant and provides exceptional breathability and coolness. Wrinkles are inherent with linen and give a comfortable, lived-in look if you don’t apply an iron. With repeated washings, linen gets softer.

  • Hand-wash linen or use the gentle cycle of the washing machine.
  • Cool or cold water and a mild detergent like Woolite or Dreft will clean and protect the fibers.
  • Tumble dry on low and remove while slightly damp and hang to complete drying.
  • If you iron your linen, it’s best to iron when it’s slightly damp just out of the dryer to make wrinkles easier to press out. Use the highest temperature setting and a pressing cloth.

Fabric blends

Favorite summer fabric blends include cotton and polyester, linen and silk, spandex and cotton, rayon and cotton, and nylon and acetate. Fabric blends combine the characteristics of multiple fibers to create a new fabric, often improving durability and handling. Blends hold their shape, resist wrinkles, and are easy-care.

  • Wash like fabrics together, dark colors separate from whites and lights.
  • Use permanent-press cycle or gentle/delicate setting.
  • Use mild detergent and all-fabric bleach to brighten colors.
  • Use low heat or permanent-press dryer cycle and hang clothes when dry to avoid wrinkling.


Rayon is made from synthetic fibers and can imitate the feel and texture of silk, linen, wool and cotton. Rayon can be especially delicate, a thin fabric that drapes beautifully for blouses, dresses and skirts, but rayon wrinkles easily.

  • Hand wash in cool to lukewarm water with a mild detergent and rinse thoroughly.
  • Don’t ring out the fabric, hang the garment totally wet to help remove creasing.
  • Iron rayon with a medium heat setting and a pressing cloth.

A dryer is not always the answer

Some items should never go in the dryer. If you want to avoid shrinking, warping, and destroying some of your favorite summer clothes, keep these items out of the dryer.

  • Bathing suits: the heat of the dryer will leave spandex brittle and broken. Rinse out bathing suits after use and hang to dry naturally.
  • Bras: heat will damage the elasticity and shape; hang dry or lay flat to dry.
  • Pantyhose or tights: hang dry or lay flat; a dryer, even on low heat, will shrink them.
  • Lycra and spandex: workout gear and shorts should be air dried to prevent loss of elasticity.
  • Bling adornments: sequins, stones, beads, etc., on tops, shorts and skirts can be damaged by the heat of a dryer, plus they can snag on other items and get pulled off.

General laundry care tips

There’s more to clothing care than just the right washing and drying temperatures. Proper handling includes the whole process of care, from wearing to putting away cleaned clothes. Here are some general laundry tips to complete our primer on proper care for your summer clothes.

  • Remove items from the washing machine as soon as the wash is complete.Wet clothes left in the washer set the creases and wrinkles and, if they remain long enough, they’ll get mildew-y and stinky and need to be washed again. Hang the items up to dry or transfer them to the dryer immediately.
  • Leave the washer lid or door open when not in use so it can completely dry out. Trapped moisture encourages mildew and that musty washer smell that can transfer to the clothes.
  • Use normal or heavy wash cycle for sheets, towels, jeans, blankets and rugs. Most clothing holds up better with permanent-press or gentle agitation cycles.
  • Remove clothes from the dryer as soon as the cycle ends to prevent wrinkles. Check that seams, collars and pockets are completely dry before putting clothes away. Hang and air dry anything that still feels damp or run the dry cycle for a few more minutes.
  • Use mesh wash bags for very fine fabrics, swim suits and lingerie to avoid stretching and pulling.
  • Never put away damp or wet clothes in the closet, hamper or dresser drawers. Mildew happens.
  • Use a pressing cloth to prevent any marks on your clothes from the iron. Use appropriate temperature settings. If in doubt, test an inside seam or use a low temperature. A hot iron can actually melt some synthetic fibers.
  • Turn garments with trim or beads inside out and iron from the underside of the fabric.
  • For washable shoes and sandals, check the labels. If they are “machine-washable, dryer-safe,” use cool air or low heat and place in the dryer with several towels. Set non-dryer items outside to dry in the sun.

Don’t let wardrobe maintenance be a stress factor in your summer! Tailored Living can help tame the chaos of clothes for the entire family with custom closet systems to keep everyone organized for a care-free summer. And step up to a custom laundry room design to make laundry day a breeze so you have more time for fun. Call 866-712-3404 today to schedule a free, in-home consultation. As whole home organization specialists, we can provide innovative storage solutions for every area of your home, from closets to garage storage, and home offices to custom pantries and entertainment centers.

Everyone loves to wear white in the summer; check out How To Keep Your White Denim Clean And Crisp.