Follow these tips to get all your clothes clean without shrinking them into baby-size skirts and shirts:
• Wool—This naturally flame-retardant fiber should be gently hand-washed with a mild soap in 100-degree (Fahrenheit) water. Throw a little distilled white vinegar in the water when you rinse, and then lay it flat and stretch it to its original size to dry. Always keep wool out of the sun to dry. (You’d wash cashmere, alpaca, angora, or mohair using the same method.)
• Rayon—Hand-wash in cool water with soap or detergent and rinse. Don’t twist or wring out the water; press it out of the garment after rinsing.
• Silk—Use your hands to swirl silk around in 100- to 120-degree water with some gentle castile soap that has a neutral pH. Hang indoors to dry because UV rays can damage silk. Instead of ironing on low, hang the article in a steamy bathroom to get out any wrinkles.
For more tips on wet-washing and green living, read Home Enlightenment: Create a Nurturing, Healthy, and Toxin-Free Home by Annie B. Bond (Rodale, 2006).