How Do You Maintain Preschooler's Clothes?

Updated on December 23, 2011
D.K. asks from Bellevue, WA
20 answers

As in how often do you need to buy new clothes for the preschool, how do you avoid the instant worn-out look coming out of the dryer? Especially when you need to wash 2 loads of clothes every week (just the preschooler's). The dryer just sucks out any clean-look out of the new clothes in a matter of 1 load! I cannot line dry each and every tee and pant!

I am at my wit's end, although my kid's preschool clothes are very clean, they almost always look worn out/washed out (except for when they are really new!). I can't buy new clothes every month! Do others face this problem and if yes what do you do?

Sorry maybe this is just a rant, because I just saw his preschool Santa pics and i wished he was wearing better clothes :(. Maybe lint remover might work?


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So What Happened?

Thank you all sweet mommies! Lot of helpful suggestions here. I do separate out the clothes by their type, jeans together, all tees & undies together, use All-Clear detergent (only 1/4th of the cap), not using any fabric softner, cold wash & low heat drying!

i do need to keep the same colored clothes together and maybe air dry.

oh btw, I mean 2 laundry baskets.. just for his clothes plus naprolls! That's about 3-4 loads for his clothes in addition to ours! LOL

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answers from Dallas on

That's one reason I love shopping at thrift stores- if the clothes look nice there, they will probably still look good after a few dozen more washings.

I do find that some brand names consistantly look better than others after long wearing- Lands End, LL Bean, Hanna Anderssen seem to hold up like iron.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

For my son (two and a half) - I buy all of his clothes that he wears to daycare at a resale shop - so they are already worn in and I don't have to worry about them being ruined. If I know that he is having pics taken at daycare, I dress him in nicer clothing.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from New York on

I actually don't worry about this. He has a whole separate "wardrobe" for preschool because it's all cheap and I don't care what happens to it. Sweat pants and t-shirts. That's it.

On picture day (including the Santa picture), they ask that we send in a change of clothes so that the pictures come out well. Other than that, cheap play clothes. Target, Sears, JC Penney and Old Navy (when they have sales) are our hang-out!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

are you using a home-dryer or one at the laundromat? The things that seems to make clothes look faded and old too fast are either - too much detergent, too hot a dryer, too many clothes in the wash at the same time.

Most detergent now is concentrated and you really don't need to use much. Check the bottle and the cap to make sure you're using only the needed amount - you may save money too!

You don't need to have the dryer set on hot. I use the "perm press" setting almost all the time - except for towels and white socks.

If you put too much in the washer and/or dryer at the same time they get mangled and "man-handled". do not overload the machines.

I don't have a problem with my clothes cooking worn out - I also add white vinegar to most washed to freshen things up. Finally - keep the "shout" spray bottle handy so you only have to pre-treat the spot - not the entire load of clothes.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

turn the pants and shirts inside out. that helps a little bit. but as far as nice clothing for preschool preschool is playtime. send them in jeans / pants and shirts. not fancy. kids play hard and their clothing shows it pretty quickly. I always had a couple of nice outfits but the rest was play clothes and I just let it go

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

If you are washing clothing correctly they don't look like what you are describing.

You need to learn to do laundry the right way.

Dark colors go together, medium colors, and then light stuff that can be bleached. I wash towels together, sheets together, and underwear, socks, teeshirts with screen prints on them along with other items that don't fade in water with bleach.

I wash dark towels separate from light towels.

I wash dark colors together, if a pair of pants have lining that is fuzzy they are not washed with the dark's, only black, dark brown, olive, dark dark stuff.

I also wash jeans as a separate load. That way the blue in the denim gets on the other denim items and they don't get that faded out look.

My bff has horrid looking clothes that never look clean or tidy. She just grabs arm loads of stuff and puts it in the washer without sorting anything out. This is bad for the clothes and bad for the washer.

If you are washing a pair of black pants with a fuzzy white towel what do you think happens. The white fibers get into every little bit of dark fabric and the pants will never look nice again. Clothes must be sorted the right way.

If you are drying clothes that are all mixed up, like jeans and towels mixed with tee shirts and socks the blue dye in the jeans gets on everything making the items look dingy. They fuzz on the towels gets every where and even the dryer can't get it off.

Drying a pair of jeans along with a pair of nylon panties will melt the elastic in the panties and the jeans won't get dry due to the hear put off by the melting panties. They dryer will keep turning off thinking the clothes are dry.

Laundry is a complicated task that can be mastered if you think about it logically.
Also, don't use liquid fabric softener in the washer unless absolutely necessary, I get horrid static in the winter. The substance coats the fibers of the garment and makes it yucky when it builds up. Towels will not absorb water, dishrags will float on top of the water, clothes will feel slimy when you's best to use it sparingly.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I don't know if this is the perfect recipe for you, but here's what we do:

1. Pretreat all stains. Check pockets, zip zippers. (to prevent rubbing)Turn some items inside out to protect prints/texture.
2. Loosely load washer to full. (no cramming)
3. Use BioKleen concentrated liquid. (no fabric softeners, etc.)
4. Wash everything on cold/cold. (we don't sort, we've had no problems with it and aren't doing anything like diapers/etc. that would require HOT.)
5. Shake out all laundry before putting in dryer.
6. Dry on medium. Sometimes two run-throughs.
Special items dry on rack.

Just a question-- do you have hard water or old pipes?Just wondering if there are minerals in the water at work here.. If that's the case, you might want to look into a detergent with a water-softener in it.

Just scrolling down, it's interesting to see how many different ways there are to do laundry. ;) And I agree with previous posters-- I'm a preschool teacher and would much rather see the kids come to school ready to get messy. We save the nicer clothes for picture day or outings, otherwise, Kiddo usually wears playclothes ('grubbies', my dad used to call them.)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I always use cold water. Half the detergent the companies suggest and I hang dry as much as possible.

If I dry them in the dryer, I pop them out as soon as they are dry..

NEVER use fabric softeners. They coat fabrics and they are never the same again.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Besides separating by color (darks, lights, I separate out reds and denim, too), you need to separate fluffy stuff from non fluffy stuff (towels, sweaters, bathroom rugs, etc).
Some cotton blankets/flannel sheets/flannel shirts are serious lint sources - I ALWAYS wash mine separately.
You don't have to line dry everything, but I lay flat and block sweaters out so they don't shrink or lose their shape - this always makes sweaters last longer.
Use a soap that's color safe.
Some soaps are harder on colors than others (and this can vary with the hardness of your water).
If your water is hard, or has iron and/or sulfur in it (well water quality can vary with your filter system), it will have an impact on your laundry, too.
Even if his clothes look great after washing, I just got in the habit of putting a new shirt aside for pictures.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Green Bay on

I think dryers take a big toll on clothes! I don't dry any of our pants or shirts, I take them out of the wash, hang them on hangers and set the hangers in a closet to dry. Our clothes have been lasting much longer since I started air drying and they still look new and don't shrink either. I highly recommend it!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

It's the dryer... not much you can do. You can try to dry on the gentle (low temp) cycle, but that eats up a lot of energy and takes longer. You can try to forgo prints, solids usually stay nice looking longer...

Personally I think that it's preschool and I don't care about my DD's clothes being washed out. By the time she's done with a preschool day and all the painting, glueing and playing on the floor her clothes are shot anyways.

For picture day I send her in her "nice" outfit (as do all the other parents in our school) that she does not wear every week. That way you get good pics.

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

How do you get to only do 2 loads of clothes each week for your pre-schooler?


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pocatello on

Try using less detergent... most people use a cap-full per load, when you really only need about 1/4 of a cap. the new detergents are super concentrated- so like dish soap, you don't need much to do the job. With most clothes, cold washing is just fine... except for undies. I generally use the perm press cycle, like NY Metro Mom. wash like colors together to help with fading too- I put reds, oranges, purples and pinks in one load; blues, navys and greens in another, blacks browns and greys together, and whites and lights together (with yellows sometimes). I know that is a lot of loads to do, so you might have to wait a few days to gather enough clothes to make it all worth while.

If the clothes are really fades you could get some packets of rit and add a LITTLE bit to the wash... but only for solid clothing.

Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I find the same thing. Buy a lot on clearance and shop seasons ahead if you can, then you don't feel so bad. Also if you hang dry the nicer "school" clothes, I find they look better and last longer. I use so much stain remover on my boys' clothes, it is amazing. Everything gets stained and seems to wear quickly. You can buy detergent too that brightens the clothes too. It is frustrating. Boy it is really bad when my youngest gets his brothers' clothes, then he really looks like he is wearing old clothing.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Most of the time it depends on the quality of clothing and the cleanliness of your washer. Google search homemade washer cleaner. I used Vinegar to clean mine, and we use less detergent but add baking soda.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I use a detergent booster like oxyclean but I also do not put my granddaughter's uniform pants in the dryer. They look old and wear out much faster. I make sure I have enough uniforms for 6 - 7 days; that way she has a clean one for each day and one or two extras. I do her laundry every weekend. I hang the pants either outside (if sunny) or in the bathroom. If I hang them outside, they are literally dry in an hour or so. If I hang them in the bathroom it may take a day or two, thus the "extra" uniforms.

I used to really worry about this too, but then I started noticing that none of the other children's clothes looked any better!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

I swear by oxyclean laundry booster. While some clothes are just made better than others, the color stays fresher by using a little of this in each load. Also, wash colors in cold water. This helps preserve the dye in the fabrics. Hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Once Upon a Child is awesome for finding "new" clothes that you wouldn't mind if she went to preschool in, and cheap. I bought two pair of shoes (Vans & Stride rite) 3 sweatshirts (gap and cheap one) and 4 shirts for 50.00 last weekend. they look new for awhile and once they're worn down (which happens with preschoolers) Oh well.

As for the laundry, I have really found it depends the amount/type of detergent you use ie I noticed "tide" unless used sparingly really wares the clothes down. I like brand woolite--a little softer on the clothes. Just make sure not to use too much. for me I always to a second rinse just to make sure all the soap is out. Seems to help. If you think its more of a dryer issue, run a few loads (not towels or pants unfortunately) but at least the shirts and underoos on air dry--it helps a lot too!!

Good Luck

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answers from Dallas on

It is definitely the dryer. I hang dry all my kid's shirts(partially dry them in dryer on low for about 5 minutes first). It really makes a difference. My younger son wears almost all my older son's clothes because they still look like new.


answers from Rochester on

Depends on what the materials are and the quality of the item. Some clothes (particularly K-Marts, I've noticed, and haven't bought there in years) are super cheap quality, the material pills, and they aren't properly cut before sewn so the bias in the material is wrong and the seams don't match up. I have NEVER had these problems with Target's clothes, and they're not that expensive.

I wash our clothes this way...whites, light colors, dark colors, bright colors, jeans, and towels. I put bleach in the whites. I use Gain detergent, and whatever dryer sheets are on sale. To treat stains, I love Shout Advanced for Set-In bottle. Spray it on, leave it at least a day (up to a week) and wash. I wash ALL in cold water, and use the "max dry" on my dryer. I wash in large loads, except for whites, because there's never enough of them.

I did notice, however, that if something says handwash...the handwash on my brand new washer is not good enough. My mom bought me a very nice shirt for my birthday, and I LOVED it because it actually fit...said to handwash. I would NEVER waste my time's too short for vanity. So I used the handwash cycle, and within 6 washes or so, with laying it out on the table to dry, it's pilled and looks really worn. Oh well.

If you're buying all 100% cotton, they tend to look more worn and faded quicker.

I also want to thank Gamma G for saying it perfectly. I almost feel like I ought to erase my answer!!

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