types of fabrics + best care practices

the textiles below are those that we come in contact with the most frequently. please always first refer to the care instructions of the particular garment itself, as process can vary based on sewing technique or other materials used. if the fabric is a blend, follow the care instructions of the most delicate fiber included. 

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ALPACA WOOL: made from the fleece of primarily peruvian alpaca, softer than sheep's wool, and also hypoallergenic. alpaca require no pesticides or antibiotic treatment when raised for wool, making their lustrous and durable fleece naturally organic. harvesting the wool is no more intrusive than a once a year haircut. 

alpaca fibers are hollow which allows them to better trap and insulate heat. in addition, the hollow nature of alpaca fiber means that there’s no core for the moisture to collect in. instead, the alpaca fiber channels moisture off and away from the skin, keeping you nice and dry. since alpaca wool is substantially longer than its counterparts like cashmere, it is much more durable even after repeated wearing.

HOW LONG IT TAKES TO BIODEGRADE: 1 year

CARE: hand-washing is the preferred method of washing alpaca products. gently wash in warm water with a mild soap and thoroughly rinse in water of the same temperature. care must be taken as wet alpaca fabric can weaken and stretch out of shape. never wring or twist. gently press excess water from garment. lay flat to dry. many sources also recommend folding alpaca garments as opposed to hanging them, given the propensity to stretch. 

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BABY ALPACA WOOL: refers to a type of alpaca fiber that is rare. it does NOT mean the fiber was taken from a baby (young) alpaca! even softer than traditional alpaca wool.

HOW LONG IT TAKES TO BIODEGRADE: 1 year

CARE: hand-washing is the preferred method of washing alpaca products. gently wash in warm water with a mild soap and thoroughly rinse in water of the same temperature. care must be taken as wet alpaca fabric can weaken and stretch out of shape. never wring or twist. gently press excess water from garment. lay flat to dry. many sources also recommend folding alpaca garments as opposed to hanging them, given the propensity to stretch. 

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BAMBOO: a type of grass originating from eastern asia that requires no fertilizers or pesticides and very little water for its rapid growth. fabric made from bamboo fiber is silky in texture, has moisture wicking properties, and is very durable. while developments for harmless and environmentally sound processes are underway, current bamboo fabric manufacturing processes do involve toxic chemicals. commonly used in rayon fabrics.

HOW LONG IT TAKES TO BIODEGRADE:

CARE: unless the bamboo garment is heavily soiled, it's fine to use cold water, a good detergent, and the gentle wash cycle for regular machine washing. to prevent pilling, close buttons and zippers and turn the garment inside out before washing. sweaters and knitwear made from bamboo fibers should be hand washed to prevent stretching. lay flat to dry. 

CASHMERE: made from the soft hairs that grow on the belly of a native Himalayan kashmir goat. the scarcity and arduous harvesting process of this fiber make it a luxury material, as do its extremely soft, well-insulating, lightweight and durable properties as a fabric. 

HOW LONG IT TAKES TO BIODEGRADE:

CARE: hand-washing is the preferred cleaning method for softening and preserving cashmere over time. gently wash in cold water using a mild detergent or shampoo. press out the excess water and lay flat to dry. cashmere does better being folded, as it stretches when hung on a hanger. can be dry-cleaned. can also be washed on delicate in a mesh bag in the washing machine.  

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HEMP: made from the inner fibers of the stalk of the hemp plant, which belongs to the bast fiber group. hemp plants do not require any pesticides or toxic chemicals when cultivated, produce 2-3 times more fiber per acre than cotton, and even return nutrients back into the soil. hemp fabric is breathable, warm, moisture-wicking, and anti-bacterial.

HOW LONG IT TAKES TO BIODEGRADE:

CARE: machine or hand-washing are the preferred methods for cleaning hemp fabrics. hemp can be washed using a mild detergent on delicate in cold to warm water in the washing machine. it can be laid flat to dry, or it can be dried on low heat in the dryer. 

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LINEN: made from flax and has been used as a textile since ancient mesopotamian times. cultivating linen requires far less water than growing cotton, no chemical fertilizers, and it is one of the strongest plant fibers. linen is also highly absorbent and keeps the wearer cool, making it ideal for a range of textile uses.

HOW LONG IT TAKES TO BIODEGRADE:

CARE: linen becomes softer and more absorbent after each wash, which is pretty neat. wash it on low heat in cold to lukewarm water. use the gentle cycle in the washing machine and a mild detergent to protect the fibers. tumble dry linen clothes or textile on low heat. remove from dryer when still slightly damp to avoid the fabric becoming stiff, and hang or lie flat to finish drying.

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MERINO WOOL: wool made from the fleece of merino sheep, which are originally from spain but now mainly bred in new zealand and australia. merino wool is soft and lightweight. it also regulates body temperature well, explaining its popularity in sportswear and performance base layers.

HOW LONG IT TAKES TO BIODEGRADE:

CARE: merino can be hand-washed or machine washed. using a gentle detergent, wash merino wool garments in warm water on the delicate cycle. turn items inside out, and place in a mesh washing bag. lay flat to dry. NEVER TUMBLE DRY MERINO.

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MODAL: a specific type of rayon fabric made from the cellulose found in beech tree fiber. extremely soft, breathable, and 50% more absorbent than cotton. the company that developed modal promises 95% of the production materials used to make modal are reclaimed helping to reduce emissions and conserve natural resources. classified as a bio-based textile, modal production involves very few chemicals and recycles most of the water and solvents used. the fabric absorbs dyes well and resists shrinkage and fading.

HOW LONG IT TAKES TO BIODEGRADE: 

CARE: one of the easiest fabrics. wash modal on the delicate cycle using warm water and cool rinse. throw in the dryer on low heat or the tumble setting. 

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MOHAIRmade from the hair of the angora goat. goats are typically shorn twice a year, with no harm done to the animal. the finished material is durable, dyes well, is  warm and has excellent breathability and insulating properties. unlike regular wool, mohair fiber is soft and not scratchy. it is often blended with other fibers to add strength and warmth to a particular fabric.

HOW LONG IT TAKES TO BIODEGRADE: 1 year

CARE: hand-washing is the preferred method for mohair products. hand wash using a mild soap in cool to lukewarm water. gently squeeze the fabric to eliminate excess water. lay flat to dry. avoid dry cleaning.

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ORGANIC COTTON: obtained from cotton that is grown from non-GMO seed and without the use of any harmful or synthetic chemicals, pesticides or herbicides. this cultivation method supports biodiversity, healthy ecosystems, improves the quality of soil and uses less water than growing conventional cotton. organic cotton does need more time to grow, requires knowledge and skill, and is currently more costly than conventional cotton.

HOW LONG IT TAKES TO BIODEGRADE: 6 months

CARE: wash in cool to warm water with mild laundry detergent (non-toxic, biodegradable types preferred) on the delicate cycle. line or lay flat to dry. may also be machine dried on low heat.

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ORGANIC WOOL: organic wool farming requires strict adherence to a set of standards whereby farmers cannot use any chemical inputs on their fields or feed crops and must steer clear of chemical based insecticides and pesticides. fiber bearing animals can only be fed 100% organic grains, graze on organic pastures, and cannot be vaccinated with anything synthetic. mills that process the wool must be free of synthetic chemicals and demonstrate water consciousness.

HOW LONG IT TAKES TO BIODEGRADE: 1 year

CARE: organic wool can be hand-washed or machine washed. using a gentle detergent, wash garments in warm water on the delicate cycle. turn items inside out, and place in a mesh washing bag. lay flat to dry. 

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RECYCLED POLYESTER (rPET): made from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles, food containers, unusable second quality polyester fabrics, and worn out poly garments. the polyester in these items is broken down and re-spun into virgin quality fiber. rPET reduces dependency on oil, utilizes waste, creates less pollution, and cuts out the need for a virgin polyester manufacturing industry.

HOW LONG IT TAKES TO BIODEGRADE:

CARE: can be machine or hand washed on cold to warm water using a mild detergent on the delicate cycle. as rPET is still a petroleum-based product (better than its virgin cousin though it is), we do recommend washing any poly products with a microfiber catcher like this one. lay flat to dry.

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RAW SILK: aka wild or peace silk. it is the most natural form of delicate fiber, and it has the highest tensile strength of any fiber existing. it is naturally hypoallergenic and completely non-toxic. raw silk has a nubbier and rougher texture than glossier traditional silk.

raw silk differs from conventional silk because the silkworm is allowed to live out its full life cycle. moths naturally emerge from their cocoon before the cocoon is harvested for silk production. 

HOW LONG IT TAKES TO BIODEGRADE: 1 to 3 years

CARE: raw silk can be hand-washed or machine-washed on cold using a mild detergent on delicate. tumble dry warm. 

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SILK CREPE: silk crepe is naturally hypoallergenic and completely non-toxic. as a lightweight fabric made from yarn with fewer filaments, it is made from several filaments twisted tightly around one another to create a subtle textured finish. silk crepe de chine is lustrous and smooth while maintaining a generally matte appearance.

HOW LONG IT TAKES TO BIODEGRADE: 1 to 3 years

CARE: silk can be hand-washed or machine-washed on cold using a mild detergent on delicate. tumble dry warm or lay flat to dry. 

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TENCEL (LYOCELL): a soft, absorbent, very strong, wrinkle-resistant, sustainable fabric made from regenerated wood cellulose. it is similar to bamboo/rayon but is more environmentally friendly.

tencel fibers are grown sustainably, obtained from eucalyptus trees grown on farms without the use of pesticides. the chemicals used to produce lyocell fibers are nontoxic, and the cellulose used is treated in what is known as a closed loop process in which these solvents are recycled with a recovery rate of 99.5%. remaining emissions decompose in biological purification plants.

HOW LONG IT TAKES TO BIODEGRADE:

CARE: machine wash is suitable for most items. gentle pieces should be hand washed. launder garment in cold water on the delicate cycle using a mild detergent. hang or lay flat to dry.

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TRADITIONAL COTTON: 

HOW LONG IT TAKES TO BIODEGRADE: 6 months

CARE: wash in cool to warm water with mild laundry detergent (non-toxic, biodegradable types preferred) on the delicate cycle. line or lay flat to dry. may also be machine dried on low heat.

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TRADITIONAL SILK:

HOW LONG IT TAKES TO BIODEGRADE: 1 to 3 years