How the professionals take care of the clothes

Wash less and air more! You’ll save both your wardrobe and the environment.” Anna-Carin Wirenfelt, costume technician at Swedish Television’s costume store, takes care of half a million garments every day.

“Ventilation and fresh air can go a long way. If a garment smells bad, put it in the freezer instead!”

SVT’s Magasin 4 in Stockholm is the largest warehouse in the entire Nordic region for renting costumes, props, furniture and décor. This is where Anna-Carin Wirenfelt and her colleagues work to protect half a million garments from fur mites, moths, dust and to ensure that they retain their colour and shape for the future. Airing, airing and airing. Her three tips for making your clothes last as long as possible are: airing, airing and airing

“I suffer from a bit of aeration mania! Here by us, we always choose to air the garments first, before we decide whether they should be sent to the laundry, both to preserve the environment and the clothes. For example, you don’t need to wash jerseys too often; it suffices to just air them outside for a couple of hours. Wool almost washes itself when left to hang outside. By airing one’s clothes regularly, you avoid problems with moths and mites, which are otherwise very common in larger warehouses.”

“I feel super proud every time Anticimex comes here and says: “we found ONE moth”! We have so much wool in our storage that it’s crazy, yet there aren’t any moths here. The secret to us keeping everything fresh is aeration,” says Anna-Carin who believes that aerating, in particular, is a bit of a forgotten savoir-faire among the younger generation.”

“Clothes don’t need to be washed as often as you might think, except when they’re sweaty or have stains, of course. If you don’t have a garden or balcony, you can place an airing stand by the window and leave it open for a couple of hours so that your clothes can air out.”

“A couple of times a year everything should be aired. Wool garments are most sensitive because they attract vermin. Cotton isn’t as sensitive, it’s more that your clothes can start to smell like wardrobe. You can keep lavender bags inside your wardrobe so that it smells fresh, and lavender can also protect against small insects that come into your wardrobe uninvited.”

Freeze your clothes

Knitted jerseys should not be piled on top of each other year in and year out, they also need to get out and be aired out. If they’re woollen jerseys, it’s better to fold them than to hang them on hangers for a long time, as they can lose their shape. And should your shirt, canvas shoes or jeans still smell bad, you can always put them in the freezer for a couple of hours. It removes both odours and bacteria.

“One day is usually enough, regardless of the material the garment is made of,” advises Anna-Carin. Also keep in mind that most garments don’t need to be washed at high temperatures, unless it’s underwear. Around 30-40 degrees Celsius is enough. In addition, you should be careful not to use too much detergent. Soft water doesn’t require as much detergent as hard water does.

Around 80 percent of households in Sweden have soft water.” You can contact the Water Board if you’d like to know exactly what type of water there is there where you live.

Better before?

“There’s a lot to learn from how clothes were dealt with in the past. For example, mending a shirt instead of throwing it away. Even when buying clothes, you can think about sustainability by investing in a garment that you can wear for a couple of years, instead of hanging on to a trend and throwing it away after one season. That’s the dangerous thing about clothes being as cheap as they are today,” says Anna-Carin, who’s also a trained designer and costume technician.

“Personally, I’m a bit of an anti-trender. If you buy a few trendy items, that’s still okay, but not if you change your entire wardrobe just for a new season.”

Despite our “buy and throw away” habits, Anna-Carin Wirenfelt sees a positive trend that’s getting stronger: buying second-hand clothes.

“It’s just fantastic to see! The younger generation, especially, isn’t buying as much new clothes, but finds it more fun to find bargains in second-hand shops. There’s also such a large selection, everything from Myrorna and Tradera to really exclusive stores. If you don’t want to use your clothes, it’s important to donate them, as there’ll always be someone who wants them. When we clean out here at our place, we donate to charity. If you buy a leather jacket second hand and it smells musty, you can put it in the freezer or take it to a dry cleaner.”

“We’ve just purchased an ozone cabinet here at the costume warehouse. It has a special filter instead of detergent. You hang your clothes in for 40 minutes and it removes all the odours and bacteria. It’s absolutely fantastic to be able to save on laundry and rather remove odours and bacteria in this way.”

Tips from the expert

• Hang dry instead of tumble dry: Tumble drying gives rise to an incredible amount of wear and tear on your clothes.

• Iron more: When you iron your laundry, you flatten and smoothen the fibres. A smoother surface means that the dirt doesn’t stick as easily as when it’s wrinkled, and you avoid bobbles.

• Read the washing instructions carefully: A and O for washing correctly and for helping both clothes and nature.

• Skip fabric softener: Fabric softeners are mostly unnecessary chemicals, which can actually wear out your clothes.

• Give your shoes a rest: Don’t wear the same shoes two days in a row, let them dry up and rest in between. Use shoehorns.

• Wax on, wax off: Regular polishing with cream keeps the leather soft and the moisture away. First clean the shoes with a slightly damp cloth or, if they’re suede shoes, with a suede brush or fine sandpaper.

• Use cleansing shampoo: Fabric shoes can be cleaned with cleansing shampoo.