All of our fabrics (with the exception of Methow) can be washed, although some of them change appearance with washing; and some of them will shrink with the first washing, even in cool water or air. Please see the Washing & Shrinkage by Fabric page for those fabrics that change appearance with washing and our attempt to describe the changes; and for shrinkage percentages in both cool and hot temperatures. We personally like all the changes with washing, but you may not, so if you intend to wash the fabric, test it first to see if you like the changes.
We always suggest using cool temperatures to prolong the life of your fabric and to save energy. When you wash our fabrics do not use fabric or water softeners.
PLEASE BE ADVISED:
We do not warrant fabric shrinkage or performance when washed, as equipment and treatment varies dramatically. When we say that we do not warrant how the fabric will behave, we mean that we will not guarantee that, if you wash it, you will have no problems. We have washed all of our fabrics many times and are sure of our reports here, but your water and dryer temperatures may differ from ours, your machines may have residues which effect the fabric, and other factors may mean that our guidelines can be considered just that – guidelines.
SPECIFICALLY FOR LINEN AND HEMP:
The more you wash fabric made from linen or hemp, the softer and more luminous it becomes. We love freshly washed linen and hemp because they have a naturally clean fragrance, which gives a sense of well being.
You can use many different methods for drying linen and hemp: line drying, machine drying or rolling in terry towels. Whatever method you use, remember to remove the linen from the line, the dryer, or the towels while it is still slightly damp. If linen or hemp dries thoroughly, it will crease or wrinkle more easily; and it may take several hours to recover its natural moisture and full flexibility.
Most people regard ironing as a chore. But ironing linen or hemp can become a less onerous task if you do it when the fabric is damp. Be sure the soleplate of your iron is clean and smooth for quicker and easier ironing. If you have a steam iron, check for mineral deposits, which can cause brown spotting. Do not depend on a steam iron to take the place of dampness to begin with – a household steam iron is not strong enough to remove wrinkles from even medium weight linens.
Iron on the wrong side first, then on the right side to bring out the sheen, until smooth but not dry. Iron dark linens on the wrong side only. Once wrinkles are gone, hang the linen item until it is dry. Linen and hemp are strong! Respect and work with that fact and the fabric will reward you with long life.
CLEANING YOUR UPHOLSTERY:
If your fabric is upholstered on a frame, we suggest professional cleaning, because trying to spot a stain, even if using distilled water, may leave a water ring. One thing that will keep your upholstery, draperies and wallcoverings clean for a long time is vacuuming - an often overlooked, yet simple, solution. Vacuum your drapes and upholstered furniture often!
More than 80% of dry cleaners in the US use perchloroethylene (perc), a chlorinated solvent that is linked to a variety of cancers and nervous system damage. That new dry cleaned smell you often encounter – that's perc. Scope out your local area for alternative dry cleaners – at this time, there is a web site which will give you local eco friendly cleaners by zip code: www.nodryclean.com.
But before you give them your business, make sure they are using one of two methods: Wet cleaning using only non toxic soaps and water or carbon dioxide (CO2) based cleaners:
- Wet Cleaning — a system that uses biodegradable soap and water. Water based machines with sophisticated timing, agitation and temperature controls, plus computer-controlled dryers and stretching machines ensures that the fabric retains its natural size and shape.
- CO2 Solvents — Carbon Dioxide is normally a gas at room temperature, but under pressure it converts into a liquid and can act as a carrier of biodegradable soaps in much the same way water does. When the cycle stops, it converts back into a gas, much of which is reused. Clothes cleaned in this way dry instantly, are cool to the touch and have no odor. And there is no shortage of CO2 in the world! (www.greenamerica.org/livinggreen/drycleaning.cfm)
- More importantly, the CO2 used in cleaning solutions for this purpose is the by-product of other industrial operations, so there is no added contribution to global warming - or at least that is the claim. (www.nodryclean.com/carbon_dioxide_cleaning.htm)
Often you will see advertisements for cleaners who claim to be Earth-friendly (or "green", "organic", "environmentally friendly"). Be sure to ask them about the specific chemicals they use. Those to avoid:
- Hydrocarbon cleaning methods: Hydrocarbon is a petroleum-based solvent and carries all the environmental concerns of petroleum, including the fact that it's a major source of greenhouse gases. The EPA also recently listed it as a neurotoxin, and as a skin and eye irritant.
- GreenEarth method: GreenEarth replaces perc with a silicone based solvent called siloxane or D-5, which is similar to the base ingredients in deodorant and shaving creams. D-5 degrades to sand, water, and carbon dioxide. It's chemically inert, which means no chemicals mix with your clothes while they are being cleaned. However, Dow Corning, D-5's creator, did a study that revealed an increased risk of uterine cancer in female rats that were exposed to D-5, which has led the EPA to note that it may be a carcinogen. Also, manufacturing D-5 requires chlorine, which releases carcinogenic dioxins during its own manufacture.