1. Before the children even head into school, wash the uniform
Kate Hardcastle MBE, has spoken to quite a lot of parents who don’t like this tip, they love the idea of their child walking into school and taking the first day of term school picture in a pristine uniform – straight out of the bag. BUT – there is good reason to take the time and wash before you wear.
Clothing is often treated with certain chemicals both in the dying treatment and in finishing processes to make it wrinkle-free. Yet those chemicals can often be an irritant to a lot of people – especially children, so a first wash will help with that.
There is also the chance to help the clothes last longer by doing this – in that it removes excess fibres at the same time, which can help to reduce the bobbling/piling you might start to see in the first few wears.
2. You’re going to need to get to know those uniforms’ inside-out’
I would watch my mum sorting through clothes for the laundry at such speed, I always thought it was an art-form - she just seemed to be able to glance at an item to know what care it needed. I have always been a label checker as I want to make sure each item receives its best care, particularly uniforms that can need several wash-cycles a week.
After any stain treatment, I turn each item inside out, fasten up any zips or buttons to prevent anything catching (I also check them at the same time to make sure they are still functional or need any repair) and ensure the item is being washed at the manufacturers recommended temperature.
3. Washing cooler, and consider ditching the fabric conditioner
Pretty much everything in our uniform collection can be washed at 30 – and this makes me feel better on sustainability matters as well, as I know lower temperatures will save energy.
My next tip is slightly controversial amongst friends, but I have checked with experts – and it’s likely that uniforms will last longer without a conditioner particularly on well-worn in uniforms. The softener adds a lubricated coating to the uniform that can lead to excess bobbling which could also reduce the lifespan of the garments.
4. Avoid excess heat and the tumble dryer
It is easier said than done sometimes to avoid the tumble dryer but for the cost benefit of saving the energy and easing my green-conscious, I don’t tumble dry the uniforms.
We always air-dry outside or on an airer inside which helps again with the longevity of the uniform.
5. Consider the style choices for shoes
When you think about investing in a pair of good school shoes – the more wears per pair – the more the value for money. Consider how to maximise the wears by choosing a style that can be worn on weekends and through the holidays. To give some examples from Start-Rite I’d suggest for older girls looking at lace-up heavy sole styles like Impact which also comes in a Vegan option, Chelsea boots such as Revolution and a stylish hardy boot style with a buckle such as Icon. For primary aged girls, T-bars are incredibly popular and styles like Leapfrog and Poppy are hard-wearing with a classic look and patent options suitable for school, parks and partywear. For boys, classic trainer styles are rugged and will take hardwearing on the school playground and recreational grounds. Check out Strike, Rocket and Rhino Warrior that are really popular ‘cross-over’ styles.
Here is Start-Rite’s advice on caring for school shoes to help them last longer and top tips below:
• Make sure they fit properly – ill-fitting shoes will show signs of wear sooner and are no good for a child’s development.
• Protect leather shoes from splashes and stains using spray protectors.
• Dry school shoes carefully – fill wet shoes with crumpled paper and allow to dry naturally.
Never dry them on a radiator or by the fire as this can damage the leather.
• Remove mud and grit whenever possible – this will prevent build up and increase their lifespan.
• Clean and polish regularly to keep the leather supple and protect from scratches.
• Encourage your child to take off their shoes properly. This will help them keep their shape and last longer.
6. Make it a goal for the family
Whilst the idea of buying less and looking after what you invest in appeals to many families, there is often a concern on how much time that will take for a time pressured family.
It can be easier to get the kids involved with helping with this – and indeed if they have pocket money – it’s a great way to reward them.
We tend to tackle the shoes and uniforms on a Sunday morning – so that it is out of the way and doesn’t loom on a Sunday night. It is part of our usual routine with the kids taking charge of polishing and caring for their shoes with a bit of supervision. Once there is a routine in place – it can be easier to stick to it.