Care for Clothing

Good care prolongs the life of your clothing and keeps it looking good longer.

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Keep Closets Organized DK - House Works © 2010 Dorling Kindersley LimitedUse sturdy, shaped wooden hangers to support the weight of jackets and coats; slender wood or plastic hangers keep blouses wrinkle-free and ready to wear.

Here are basic pointers to protect your clothing investment:

Air out clothing before wearing it.
Wait! Don't tuck that expensive suit or pretty dress back into the closet right away. When you've worn a garment, hang it up to air outside the closet overnight before putting it away. An airing will smooth out wrinkles. By removing moisture and odors, it also reduces the need for costly dry-cleaning.

Kiss wire hangers goodbye. Dry-cleaning freebies are hard on good clothes. Hanger ends poke into blouse sleeves, stressing the fabric, while rough wire edges snag a fabric's delicate weave. Skinny wires cut into shoulder pads and don't support heavier garments. For advice on which type of hanger to use for which type of garment, see page 136 and the caption below. Earth-friendly tip: many dry-cleaners will recycle wire hangers; check with your cleaners to see if they will accept surplus wire hangers for re-use.

Dress dry. Deodorants, body lotions and perfumes are a treat for your body but hard on your clothes. Chemicals used in cosmetics can harm clothing fibers, so get dry before you get dressed. After you apply them, allow deodorants, sprays and cologne to dry thoroughly before donning clothing and never apply perfumes or lotions directly to your clothes. 

Treat stains quickly. Stains are harder or impossible to remove once they have set. Launder stained garments, or deliver stained clothing to the dry-cleaners as soon as possible after the stain occurs. You'll stand the best chance of erasing the mishap if you move quickly. 

Dust ... your clothing? Dust and lint are more than just unsightly on your clothes; these abrasive particles can damage fibers. Use a lint roller and a clothes brush to remove dust and lint from clothing regularly.

Mend your ways. It's an old home truth: "A stitch in time saves nine." Mend small tears or rips quickly, before they become big ones. A quick stitch to a sagging hem will prevent an embarrassing downfall later down the road.

Keep order in the closet. Crowded closets are more than just inconvenient-they damage clothing, as well. Crushed too tightly together, clothes wrinkle unnecessarily, and moisture and odors are trapped in the fabric. Give your clothing breathing room in the clothes closet to preserve it.

Go for the Gobi ... closet. In humid climates, closet storage can get downright funky. Moisture in the air settles on clothing and encourages mold and mildew; the closet's enclosed space magnifies the destructive effect. Result: musty smells and damaged clothing. Investigate dehumidifier products to dry closet interiors and preserve your wardrobe. These plastic containers hold moisture-attracting crystals and can be placed in a corner where they'll absorb excess humidity.

Repel pests. Moths and carpet beetles love the confines of the clothes closet where they attack natural fibers like wool and cotton. Keep them out safely with environmentally friendly cedar blocks. Hung from hangers or clothing rods, cedar's essential oils repel pests. When the scent fades, restore it by lightly sanding the blocks to expose new surface.

Your Money's Worth: Dry-cleaning

Professional dry-cleaning is a valuable tool for preserving the life of your clothing, but it helps to be in the know. Get the most for your dry-cleaning dollar with these tips:

Dry-clean sparingly. The dry-cleaning process is harsh and costly. Subject clothing to it only when absolutely necessary.

Double or nothing. Because dry-cleaning can fade or alter fabric color, always dry-clean both pieces of a two-piece garment such as a suit, not just one.

Come clean with your cleaner. When you take clothing to the dry-cleaner, point out stains and spots, and identify what caused them, if possible. If he or she has to guess, it's less likely that the cleaner will be able to remove the stain.

Put a stop to staples. Ask the cleaner to use a safety pin to attach cleaning tickets to your garment, not a staple. The stapler shreds garment tags unnecessarily.

Tap the cleaners' clothing-care talent. Many dry-cleaners also offer clothing repair and alterations, shoe repair, and special treatments for bridal gowns, quilts, suede  or leather. Ask them about any specialty services you may need; they are a great source of wardrobe talent.

Pitch the plastic bags. Once home, remove clothing from the dry-cleaner's plastic bags. Fumes from solvents used in the dry-cleaning process need air circulation to dissipate, while plastic bags hold in moisture that can harm clothing during storage.

Recycler's tip. Tie a knot in the bottom of the plastic bag, and use it to line a trash can.

Excerpted from Houseworks, by Cynthia Townley Ewer

Text Copyright © 2006, 2010, Cynthia Townley Ewer, extracts from Houseworks, reproduced with permission from Dorling Kindersley Limited

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