Pants and Shorts Questions

April 22, 2011 7:01 pm

Pants and Shorts

“Today, a good pair of denim jeans is a staple in most wardrobes. What’s the best method of care?”

A. While the variety of brands, styles, shades and hues is enough to make one’s head spin, the costs can be equally as daunting. To keep your jeans in top form requires proper care, which may vary with your investment.

Professional dry cleaning keeps jeans looking newer, fitting consistently and lasting longer and is a good choice for your dress and expensive jeans. They will stay soft and won’t shrink or become “thin” as quickly.
If you do want to wash them at home:

  • Follow the instructions on the clothing care label
  • To minimize dye crocking, always turn them inside out
  • Keep the temperature of the water cool, but not cold
  • Don’t use detergents with bleach or bleach additives
  • Wash alone – do not mix with other items
  • Be sure to clean your dryer lint screen before using the dryer
  • Never over dry them; use low heat in the dryer or hang dry them
  • If machine dried, remove the jeans when they are 90% dry to reduce the chance of shrinkage
  • When finished, hang, rather than fold, your jeans to avoid a white line eventually appearing in the crease area

Men’s Sean John black denim jeans
RN# 108086

The Drycleaning and Laundry Institute has issued a warning regarding Men’s Sean John black denim jeans, RN# 108086. While the care label states “dry clean,” the black dye bleeds when dry cleaned in certain solutions. The manufacturer is responsible since the dye in the fabric cannot withstand the recommended care instructions without severe color change.

If you own the jeans, the best course of action is to return them to the retailer or manufacturer.

“Khakis are a staple in my business wardrobe. I sometimes wash them at home and was surprised a new pair of “wrinkle-free” khakis was ruined in the wash. Why did this happen?”

A. Khakis are a great wardrobe staple for men and women. In addition to their comfort, they are easy to dress up or dress down. In the past few years, khakis have been made with several new fabrics. In the past they were commonly made of natural cotton and while this is still a popular material today, khakis are also made of micro fiber, rayon blends and cotton blends. Some of these fabrics cannot be washed and common stains such as food and spills that were routinely removed from cotton are more problematic. Be sure to read the care instruction before washing.

“I recently had a pair of spandex slacks dry cleaned and they came back with a lint-like appearance. What can be done about this?”

A. Elastic fibers such as spandex are used to provide stretch power in garments, while adding comfort, fit and fashion. The lint-like appearance you see is caused by elastic yarn protruding from the fabric’s surface. If the yarn has broken or stretched, elastic yarn can slip out of the fabric during a dry cleaning process. The important thing to remember is to follow the care label instructions. If the instructions are followed, the manufacturer bears responsibility for the damage.

“What can you tell me about pants that are purported to be wrinkle-free and to actually repel stains?”

A. The most authoritative answer comes from a study by the International Fabricare Institute’s Garment Analysis Laboratory. They tested both Dockers® pants with Stain Defender™ and 100% Nano-Care™ dress pants.

Here’s a brief summary of the test results: “In terms of stain resistance, both the Nano-Care™ and Dockers® pants with Stain Defender™ performed quite well. As for being wrinkle-free or wrinkle-resistant, in IFI’s opinion, neither pant lived up to the advanced billing.” Both pants required pressing to take out seam puckering after cleaning and to give them crisp creases.

“I just noticed that a pair of my khakis has a “dry clean only label.” What a surprise! Is it a mistake?”

A. It’s no mistake. While there are many “all cotton” casual khakis on the market, we’re seeing more “dress” khakis made from micro fiber, rayon blends and linens. And with them come care label instructions to “dry clean.” Washing these pants may be harmful, causing shrinkage and fabric damage. So, before tossing a new pair of khakis in the washing machine, check the care label first. Also, these non-cotton fibers may be more susceptible to staining from food, liquids and even raindrops.

“I’ve only worn a pair of slacks a few times and find tiny ‘fuzz balls’ on the seat and thighs. Even after washing, I can’t seem to get them off. Is this normal? What can I do about it?”

A. Frankly, it is not acceptable for this to happen. Yet, it does. In fact, it is far too common in the clothing industry. It is caused by friction or abrasion during wear and occurs in such areas as under the arms, collar, inner thighs and elbows. Sometimes careful steaming and brushing with a stiff bristled brush will remove some of the fuzz balls. If the garment is quite new and had limited wear, the manufacturer should be responsible because of the limited serviceability of the fabric. Surprising as it may seem, manufacturers can make mistakes in fabric selection and discover problems (such as fuzz balls) only after receiving customer complaints.

“I dropped off a pair of tan pants at my cleaner. When I got them back, they looked more green than tan. Why would the color change? Is it something the cleaner used on the pants?”

A. Very often two or more colors are combined to give a fabric a desired shade. When it comes to the care of tan pants, it is important to check the care label. If an item of clothing such as your tan pants is washed according to the care instructions, it should not lose or change color. If they are dry cleaned, a component of the dye is removed exposing a green color. This can also be a progressing condition that only appears after several cleanings.

“When I washed a new pair of bright green capri pants, the color faded. What can I do?”

A. Manufacturers sometimes use dyes that aren’t colorfast. Always check the care label for cleaning directions. Turning the garment inside out and washing in the coolest water possible will often help reduce fading.

“I love all the new options in shorts. The knee length and Bermuda shorts, particularly in the whites and neutral colors that are hot this summer, are great options for special outdoor events. Many seem to be a combination of cotton and lycra and say “dry clean only”. Do I have to dry clean them?”

A. Although some cotton and Lycra shorts can be washed and air-dried, it is always best to follow the clothing care instructions. Cotton/spandex can shrink when washed and have wrinkles after drying that are difficult to iron out.

“I’ve heard that plain, simple dark jeans are “in.” My denim jeans always seem to fade, streak and look sloppy. How can I keep them looking fresh?”

A. According to New York fashion writer, Stephanie Rygorsky, “Jeans are going to get darker and darker for the fall.”

Although fading and streaking occurs because the dye may not be completely colorfast and in some cases does not properly penetrate the yarns. Rubbing off the surface color exposes the undyed portion of the fibers and white streaks and light areas appear. Over time, more of the dye is lost, and the jeans fade. The shade variance may be uneven with the edges and seams appearing frosted or having a more pronounced lightening.

To help reduce fading, turn the jeans inside out and wash in the coolest water possible. Cold water will reduce the shrinkage and fading. Hang, rather than fold your jeans, because a white line will eventually appear in the crease area. Avoid rubbing stains as this can pull the color.

But for dress jeans or to extend the life of your jeans, dry cleaning is your best option. It helps keep them soft and they do not shrink or become thin as quickly. Dry cleaning will also preserve the color, fit and look of new jeans longer than washing.