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Do you ever look at the fabric content or care instructions when shopping for clothes? You should. Just because a pair of pants, a shirt, a skirt or dress look sophisticated doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be able to throw it in the washing machine. Just by looking, you can save yourself some money and trouble. It’s called smart shopping, and we’ll show you how!

When shopping, look for 100 per cent cotton, a mix of cotton and synthetic fibres, or 100 per cent synthetic fabric (this could mean a mix of synthetics). Most cotton products are pre-shrunk, so they do very well in the wash in warm or cool water. And they can usually be put in the dryer, too. Also, don’t assume that cotton is only used in t-shirts, either. You’ll find that many button-up shirts are made of a cotton and synthetic mix, like spandex or polyester. Unless otherwise illustrated on the tag, these should be machine washable.

Polyester isn’t the scratchy, cheap material it used to be, and it can easily be machine washed—just be careful when you put polyester and other synthetics, like nylon and acetate, in the dryer. If the temperature is too hot, you could end up with permanent wrinkles. Watch out for rayon. While you’ll notice more and more machine-washable rayon pieces, many are dry-clean only, but you can often get away with hand-washing instead.

Want to take the guesswork completely out of shopping? These 10 work-appropriate pieces can be thrown right in the wash. Goodbye, dry cleaning bill!

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