Do you remember the last time you laundered something with water damage? It’s probably because it was a mess to clean. The good news is that there are numerous ways to prevent this from happening again, and it all starts with learning what happens to cloth with water damage.
Water damage comes in many forms: there can be an abundance of moisture, the fabric can become saturated, or even just a little moisture can make a big difference. It doesn’t take much for clothes to develop water damage.
Even if it seems small, it’s important to recognize it before washing so that you know how to handle the clothing after water damage occurs.
If you deal with water-damaged garments often, read on for some handy tips on how best to handle them going forward.
What is Water Damage?
Water damage occurs when garments are exposed to water that causes damage to the fabric. This may be due to washing garments with too much detergent, leaving garments soaking in a sink for too long, or even spilling a beverage on them.
Water damage occurs when the fibers of the fabric swell due to the water, causing a loss of strength in the fabric and a change in color. Water damage is perhaps the most common problem that people have when washing garments.
Water damage is very different from mold or mildew damage. Black mold is caused by too much moisture over a long period of time, while water damage happens in a much shorter amount of time.
Water damage can be spotted right away, while black mold may not be visible until the garment has had time to fully grow mold spores. Water damage is easy to identify since it usually has a dark or brown color.
How Does Water Damage Happen?
As mentioned above, water damage occurs when garments are exposed to water that causes damage to the fabric. When clothes are exposed to too much water, the fibers become swollen, which causes a loss of strength in the fabric.
Since water is necessary for cleaning, this isn’t such a bad thing when you’re washing your clothes. But when clothes are exposed to too much water, it can cause serious damage and make cleaning much more difficult.
Too much water can happen in different ways. It can happen if you use too much detergent, if your washer malfunctions, if a faucet is leaking in your home, or even if you spill a beverage on your clothes.
The Problem with Cloth and Water Damage
When fabrics are damaged due to water, they lose their ability to trap dirt. For garments with torn cuffs or stains, this can make cleaning much more difficult because the fabrics don’t hold the stain as well.
For example, if you’re trying to clean a shirt that was stained with coffee, the coffee might not fully come out of the shirt if the fabric is damaged because the coffee isn’t being held in the fabric as well.
In some cases, even the smallest amount of water damage may make clothes so difficult to clean that it’s not worth the effort. When garments are water damaged, a few problems can arise.
First, the fabric loses strength, which makes the garment weaker and more prone to ripping. The fibers will also lose their ability to trap dirt and stains because they’re soaking wet. This can make it more difficult to get the garments to look clean.
Water damage can also cause color bleeding, which means that the water-damaged garments will transfer their color to other garments in the wash.
Consequences of Water Damage
When you’re trying to clean a water-damaged shirt, it might seem like the only consequence is that it takes a little more effort to clean it. But water damage can cause so much more than that. When garments are water damaged, they can develop bacteria, mildew, mold, and even odors.
When water damage occurs, it can also cause color bleeding, which means that the water-damaged garments will transfer their color to other garments in the wash. These consequences can make it difficult to clean the garments.
If a garment is water damaged, you may have to spend more time cleaning it and also use special cleaning products to make sure that it’s clean and safe to wear again. If a garment is a water damaged, it may not be safe to wear again because of germs, odors, or stains.
Steps to Take After Water Damage Occurs
If you find that your garments are water damaged, the first thing you should do is remove them from the washer or dryer. The damage is already done, so there’s no reason to continue with the cycle. After that, you can either throw the garments away or try to salvage them.
If you choose to salvage them, be careful not to damage them any further. The best thing you can do is put the garments in a hamper until you’re ready to deal with them.
After that, the most important thing you can do is read the care tag on the garments and follow the directions for cleaning them. If the garments are machine washable, you can put them in again.
If they are hand washable, you can hand wash them instead. Be sure to follow the directions for the water temperature, too.
Tips to Prevent Water Damage
There are a few ways to prevent water damage from happening. The first thing you should do is read the care tag on each garment. You can find the care tag on the garment’s label.
The symbols on the care tag will let you know what type of washing machine cycle you should use, which detergent to use, and how to dry the garment.
If you’re unsure about which cycle to use, don’t hesitate to call the company that made the garment and asks what cycle they recommend.
Another thing you can do to prevent water damage is to be mindful of how much water you’re using.
If you’re washing a few garments, using warm water is okay. But if you’re washing a full load of dirty clothes, warm water alone is not enough to fully clean them.
If you’re dealing with a lot of water, use hot water instead. Hot water is the most efficient water temperature for cleaning clothes.
Water damage is the most common problem that people have when washing garments. It occurs when fabrics are damaged due to water. Too much water can happen in different ways, and it can cause serious consequences, including bacteria, mildew, mold, and odors.
To prevent water damage, read the care tag on each garment, be mindful of how much water you’re using, and follow the directions for cleaning garments.