How To Care For Graphic T-Shirts, Sweatshirts, And Hoodies (And Make Sure They Last!)

So, you’ve invested in a high-quality graphic T-shirt from Wizard of Words. Congratulations! We’re sure that you’ll love our products, and we’re proud that you’ve chosen us as your provider for funny t-shirts, slogan tees, and other such apparel.

But how can you make sure that your product lasts and lasts? That the fabric doesn’t fade, the image or words stay clear and crisp, and that you can wear it for years to come? Great question!

We’re here to help. We’re t-shirt and apparel experts – and we know that there are a few proven techniques and methods that you can use to care for your t-shirts and other garments to make sure they last. Let’s get started! 

  1. Always Wash Your Shirts In Cold Water

First things first. You may typically wash your garments in warm, or even hot water – but if you want your t-shirt, sweatshirt or hoodie to last a long time, this is not a good idea. Hot water can cause shrinkage, and it can also negatively affect ink and graphics on t-shirts if they get too hot.

Clothes washers can easily get to 130 degrees Fahrenheit or higher when they’re on their hottest cycle. Would you simmer your clothes on the stove, like you would a pot of soup? No? Then avoid the hot cycle!

Unless you’ve seriously stained your clothes, or your shirt is really dirty, cold water will do a fine job of cleaning it – and it will also consume less electricity, which helps keep more money in your pocket. That’s a win-win! 

  1. Turn Graphic Tees And Garments Inside Out Before Washing

This is a really handy trick that will help keep your clothes in better condition. You can do it with graphic tees, hoodies, sweatshirts – or any other garment! Why is it a good idea?

Think about what happens in both washers and dryers. Your clothes rub against each other – a lot. Your washer will spin around a lot during the cycle – and during the final “spin cycle” it can reach speeds of up to 1,200 RPM!

Picture your favorite graphic t-shirt – and think about it rubbing against another shirt, a pair of pants, or another garment 1,200 times in one minute. What do you think will happen?

Yep! The graphics will fade, and become less clear. But by turning the garment inside out, you can expose the inside of the garment – which is free of logos, decals and text – to the abrasiveness of your other clothing. This means it will stay in better shape for a longer period of time. It also helps reduce pilling on the outside of the garment, which is always a good thing.  

  1. Wash Shirts With Like Colors

Okay, this one is a bit obvious, but it is important, particularly the first few times you wash a shirt. A bit of color will usually leach from the garment every time you wash it for quite a long time.

That’s why (just like your mom told you when she was teaching you to do laundry) you should always split your laundry into like colors. Wash white garments together, wash light garments together, and wash dark garments and bright colors together. Doing so will help minimize the risk of color transfer and ink damage. 

  1. Avoid Extra Additives (Bleach, Softeners, Etc.)

Fabric softener is not really necessary for doing your laundry. Sure, it may make your clothes feel a bit softer, but it also introduces chemical compounds that can cause fading and damage to screen printed text – so it’s not good for graphic tees, sweatshirts, and other such garments.

You also shouldn’t bleach any garment with any kind of graphic image, even if the base color of the garment is white. The bleach will likely damage the screen printed image. Consider a detergent with a bleach alternative, which can help remove stains, but still preserve the color of the shirt and the graphics. 

  1. Don’t Use The Dryer: Air-Dry Your Garments (Indoors, If Possible)

If you follow just one of the tips on this page, you should make it this one. Dryers are exceptionally convenient. Instead of waiting hours for your shirts and pants to dry, you can toss them into the dryer, and they’ll be good to go in 45 minutes. Really convenient, right?

Well, yes! Dryers are very convenient – but the price you pay for that convenience is quite high. Dryers can easily reach temperatures of 135-140 degrees Fahrenheit or more, and the high heat of a dryer can cause damage and shrinkage, reducing the lifespan of your clothing dramatically.

In addition, like washing, drying causes a lot of rubbing and abrasion to your clothing, which can damage screen printed text and logos. For these reasons, you want to minimize dryer use as much as possible.

The best alternative is to hang your clothing up to dry in your laundry room, or in any other inside area where it can dry naturally, without the high heat and abrasiveness of a dryer.

You can hang your clothes outside, too, but we recommend doing this in a shady area away from direct sunlight. The UV rays of the sun can cause premature wear and damage to your shirts, so it’s best to avoid direct contact. 

  1. Avoid The Iron And Press

If you iron all of your clothing or have a press, we recommend not using it on your t-shirts and on other knit materials. First, it won’t really make a big difference when it comes to the appearance of these garments. In addition, just like the washer and dryer, irons and presses emit high heat, which can damage fibers and printed areas of the garment.

If you really must iron a printed garment, for some reason, turn it inside out, and use the very lowest setting on the iron or press. Again, though, we recommend skipping the iron entirely – you’ll save time, and avoid damaging your garments. 

  1. Consider Switching Your Deodorant

Okay, this may seem like a weird tip to put on this page. What does your deodorant have to do with your t-shirts? We’ll give you a minute to think about it.

Still thinking?

Come on, you can do this.

That’s right!

Most high-quality t-shirts are retired from service not because of a hole, untreatable food stain, or other such problem. In fact, one of the biggest issues that faces shirts – and to a lesser extent, sweatshirts – is the problem of the dreaded “pit stain.”

You may not want to admit it, but you know what we’re talking about! Our underarms sweat, and this can react with our deodorant to cause stains on our clothes that are nearly irreversible. We’ve all had at least one white t-shirt that we had to toss because of yellow stains under the arms.

So, how do you avoid this? You should consider switching your deodorant, first of all. A transparent, gel-based deodorant is usually the best choice. Do a bit of online research, and you’re sure to find one that’s right for you.

You should also take it easy on the deodorant. Just use a small amount. If you’re having trouble with visible sweat marks while wearing your shirt, you may also want to consider wearing a plain white undershirt, as this can help absorb sweat and prevent staining. 

  1. Don’t Hang T-Shirts For Storage

T-shirts are made of soft, jersey material which has plenty of stretchability. This is a good thing, of course – except when it comes to storage. As a rule, hanging up t-shirts is not the right way to store them.

This is because, over time, the weight of the shirt will tend to pull the shoulders down against the hanger. This can stretch the neck and shoulders of the shirt permanently, which can change the way that it fits.

The best way to store t-shirts is by folding them and keeping them in a drawer. Avoid hangers – save those for other garments.

This tip applies to sweatshirts to a lesser extent. Some thinner sweatshirts and hoodies are at risk of stretching. However, heavier sweatshirts usually have more strength and reinforcement, so they can be hung, if desired. 

  1. Minimize Washing To Avoid Pilling

Okay, bear with us – because this may sound a little gross at first.

How often do you really need to wash your t-shirts?

The answer is… not that often! You can wear your shirt multiple times between washes without any issues at all. This is doubly true for garments like hoodies and sweatshirts, which are worn over t-shirts and undershirts. You can go weeks – or even months – without washing a hoodie or sweatshirt.

If your shirt doesn’t have any visible staining, it doesn’t smell, and you didn’t sweat in it, there’s no reason you have to send it to the laundry hamper immediately. Consider simply re-folding it and putting it back into your dresser.

Of course, we don’t recommend doing this if your shirt or other garment is smelly, or if you’ve sweated in it – walking around on a warm summer day, for example. If it’s been stained or is dirty, it should, of course, be washed.

But minimizing the number of times you wash your garments is the best way to prevent pilling – those little balls of fabric that tend to gather on the inside of garments, especially sweatshirts. It will also, in the long run, enhance the longevity of your clothing.

Use common sense. Don’t walk around in a shirt that’s dirty or smelly – but if it’s still fresh after you’ve worn it once or twice, there’s no reason you can’t re-wear it a few more times! 

  1. Treat Stains Immediately

So, you’re eating a meatball sub in your favorite Wizard of Words t-shirt – and a meatball falls towards your shirt. You see it in slow motion – marinara sauce is flying everywhere. And it lands on your shirt with a “splat!”

What should you do? You don’t want your shirt to be ruined – you just got it! The answer? Treat stains as soon as possible! Here’s what you should do!

  1. 1. Change into another shirt, if possible
  2. 2. Dab the stain with water immediately to remove the bulk of the stain. Use detergent to scrub away the stain, if you’re at home. If you’re not at home, you can also use an “on-the-go” stain treatment pen, like a Tide Bleach Pen, to help prevent the stain from setting.
  3. 3. Soak the stain with water and a pre-treatment stain remover like Shout! then toss it into the washing machine. Don’t want to do a full load? You can hand wash it in lukewarm water with the detergent of your choice.
  4. 4. Repeat, as necessary, to remove the stain.

Still need more stain treatment help? This article provides comprehensive tips for removing up to 10 different common types of stains, from motor oil to food, blood and more.

Do I Have To Follow These Tips To Care For My Wizard of Words Products?

Of course not! Our products are designed to last a long time, no matter how they’re treated. As long as you follow the care instructions on the tag, and use common sense, your shirt will look great for quite a while.

This guide is for enthusiasts – t-shirt collectors, folks who want to take the best possible care of their garments, and other such people. As such, you can take all of the advice you want from it – or ignore it completely!

Will your graphic Tee last longer if you follow these tips? Yes! But it’s up to you to determine whether it’s worth it to follow them. Maybe you don’t have time to line dry your clothes, or tend to just toss all of your differently-colored clothes into the washing machine at once. That’s just fine.

So consider these tips – and think about how you can implement them into your life to prolong the lifespan of your latest Wizard of Words purchases!





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