So you've got a t-shirt you love. Wearing it makes you feel better and more confident, but you're afraid of ruining it. What if it shrinks? What if the graphics crack? What the fuck!? Here are 3 rules to ensure these things don't happen:
When machine washing, always wash inside-out, with cold water, with like colors.
So this is kind of 3 steps in 1 but they're essential to making sure your clothes don't fade or shrink. You always want to wash your clothes inside out so if the graphics on your shirt discharge, they don't discharge onto your other clothes! There's nothing worse than a stain on a crisp, white shirt. Wash it with similar colors - whites with whites, colored with colored. You may have learned this in art class but white is the absence of color. If you mix your colored clothes with your white clothes during washing, chances are you will ruin your white clothes. Finally (super important), use cold water! Cold water washing reduces shrinking, fading, and your electric bill.
Tumble Dry on Low, or If You Can, Hang Dry!
Physics 101 : Heat causes molecules to expand. What are your shirts made of? Molecules (duh). Drying your clothes on low is the easiest way to ensure that your clothes do not stretch. This is extra important for knit fabrics (such as t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, and sweatpants) as knit fabrics are made by interlooping yarns, thus giving it that signature stretch. Heat also increases the chance of fading so please, use try to use as little heat when drying as possible.
Never, Ever Iron Your Graphics Directly
What's worse than fading and cracking graphics on a shirt? A completely fucked up shirt. What's very likely to happen when you put your iron directly over your shirt is that the high heat of your iron will melt the graphics (especially on Vinyl's), resulting in a ruined shirt and ruined iron. The melted print will stick onto the bottom side of your iron, rendering it unusable. What we recommend is that you iron your shirts inside out, or better yet, place a piece of fabric over the printed part of the shirt you want to iron. This creates a barrier between the intense heat of the iron and the delicate print.
If you follow these 3 rules, you'll see the lifetime of your favorite shirts increase significantly. Please note that these rules apply specifically to knits, commonly used for t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, and sweatpants. Jersey and fleece are both knit fabrics. When in doubt, check the care instructions on your shirt. You'd be surprised how much it's ignored.
Pro Tip: If you're rich and lazy, just drop it at the dry cleaner. They're professionals.