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If you take care of your things, they will last a long time. This saying cannot be truer than anything else for your wardrobe. It is true that the clothes you get nowadays are ‘use and throw’ stuff; however, there are many items in your wardrobe which you may want to keep wearing for a long time. For example, the classics, the ones that fit you well, the heirloom one, or one of sentimental value like your precious wedding or prom dress. All you need to do is bestow some Tender Loving Care.
We polled designers and the dry cleaners they trust for tips on how to take care of your wardrobe. And our biggest takeaway is that first and foremost, everything we wear should be enjoyed, accessorized with joie de vivre and not a fear of getting ruined. To get the experts’ tips for wearing, storing and even cleaning your wardrobe correctly to prolong the life of your favorite items, review the following five sections:
After all, having the best wardrobe is pointless if you don’t take care of it!
BASIC WARDROBE CARE 101 (20 RULES TO FOLLOW)
Rule No. 1: First rule for taking care of your wardrobe is to buy quality items. If the garment is made of the best fabric with the best construction (good stitching; sturdy seams; interfaced hems and necklines) your job is made easier. Make sure that the seam stitching of the garment is strong, and all embellishments are firmly fixed.
Rule No. 2: Always empty pockets, zip up the zippers, remove any pins, brooches, badges, and remove delicate embellishments like ribbon flowers before washing the garment. Also, separate clothes according to color before washing to make sure that colors do not bleed and latch onto other clothes.
Rule No. 3: Turning the clothes inside out before washing is another good idea to maintain their looks.
Rule No. 4: Do not overload the washing machine and do not use too much detergent.
Rule No. 5: Do not wear socks and underwear more than once. This is basic hygiene as well as great for social skills.
Rule No. 6: If you have a very expensive dress or a garment that says dry clean only, do not take the risk of cleaning it yourself. Choose the best dry cleaner you have in your vicinity. Velvet, brocades, silk, expensive satin are all better left to the dry cleaners for cleaning. Tailored jackets and suits are also better dry-cleaned.
Rule No. 7: Wash bed linen (bed sheets, pillowcases) and towels (kitchen towels, terry towels) separately from clothes. These fabrics give out lint and they will latch on to your clothes.
Rule No. 8: Always wash the lingerie (especially brassieres) in a lingerie bag in the washing machine. The delicate lingerie will last longer.
Rule No. 9: Homemade detergents work as well as store bought detergents. Make them yourself. The harsh detergents maybe causing allergic reactions and you may not be aware of it.
Rule No. 10: Hang to dry colored clothes away from direct sunlight or for a short duration. The colors will fade with exposure to sunlight.
Rule No. 11: Fold washed and dried clothes and keep them neatly arranged in a drawer, or hang them neatly, rather than stuffed inside the laundry bag. There will be fewer wrinkles to iron.
Rule No. 12: Do not hang sweaters and other clothes that stretch clothes (clothes made with knit fabrics). They are best folded and laid down flat inside drawers.
Rule No. 13: Do not stuff your drawers, closets, armoire, etc. with clothes. Store not-in-season clothes or occasion-only-clothes in separate areas or containers. This allows clothes to breathe easily.
Rule No. 14: Use appropriate hangers; rounded and padded hangers are best for hanging pants and shawls. Never hang a wet cloth on a metal hanger. Metal hangers will stain clothes if there is a small crack on the plastic coating. Use special hangers to hang suits and jackets.
Rule No. 15: If you are hanging clothes for a very long time, ensure that you change the fold at regular intervals. The folded line will become permanent and damage your clothes.
Rule No. 16: If you notice that there is a spot in your clothes dab the spot with a wet cloth immediately. If you wait to remove the stain it will set in permanently. Do not dab your clothes with a wet cloth if you feel that the fabric will bleed. Use a dry swipe to absorb as much of the stain as possible and immediately take the garment to the dry cleaners.
Rule No. 17: Brush your garments with a small garment brush to remove dust. Brushing is also good for removing lint from the clothes.
Rule No. 18: If you see a tear in your clothes, repair it immediately. Do not wait for repairing it after washing, the washing will make the hole bigger. Mend it by darning or patching.
Rule No. 19: After you have worn an item, and you are not going to immediately wash it, check for any sign of dampness, even sweat. Never store damp or wet items. Hang the item to dry before placing it in the dirty laundry basket. Dampness will cause (especially from sweat) a bad smell and mildewing/molding. A dehumidifier in the room where dirty laundry is stored can help contain moisture in the room.
Rule No. 20: Learn all you can about the way you should treat different fabric fibers.
BASIC WARDROBE CARE 102 (TAKING CARE OF DIFFERENT FABRICS)
Acetate. DRY CLEAN only.
Acrylic. WASH in warm water. DRY in low heat. IRON with low heat.
Alpaca: WASH by hand; brush softly to remove dirt. DRY by hanging to drip. IRON with medium heat or steam.
Beaded. WASH by hand. DRY by lying flat. IRON with low heat from the back.
Camel: WASH by hand; brush softly to remove dirt. DRY by hanging to drip. IRON with medium heat or steam.
Cashmere: WASH by hand; brush softly to remove dirt. DRY by hanging to drip. IRON with medium heat or steam.
Cotton: WASH in cold/warm/hot water. DRY in low heat. IRON with high heat.
Fleece: Wash by hand. DRY by hanging. IRON with low heat.
Linen: WASH by hand in cold water. DRY by air. IRON when damp using steam or medium heat.
Lycra: WASH by hand in cold water; do not use bleach. DRY by hanging to drip. IRON with low heat.
Mohair: WASH by hand; brush softly to remove dirt. DRY by hanging to drip. IRON with medium heat or steam.
Nylon: WASH in cold water with fabric softener. Dry in low heat. IRON with low heat.
Polyester: WASH in warm water. DRY in low heat. IRON with low heat.
Rayon. WASH by hand; dry cleaning preferred. DRY by hanging. IRON with low heat, inside-out.
Sequin. WASH by hand. DRY by lying flat. IRON with low heat from the back.
Silk: WASH by hand or dry clean. DRY by hanging. IRON with low heat, inside-out.
Spandex: WASH by hand in cold water; do not use bleach. DRY by hanging to drip. IRON with low heat.
Wool: WASH by hand; brush softly to remove dirt. DRY by hanging to drip. IRON with medium heat or steam.
BASIC WARDROBE CARE 103 (COMMON FABRICS)
Cotton and Linen: Woven fabrics that can be washed at home in the washing machine. They shrink after wash, so consider this shrinkage when buying clothes in cotton and linen. Dark-colored cotton and linen also bleed. The colors in these fabrics fade fast. A spray starch/dip and starch will make cotton and linen fabrics crisp and fresh, especially for collars and cuffs.
Some linen fabric must be dry washed. Check the care label for correct information.
Iron cotton and linen from the inside, using steam at a hot iron setting.
Polyester, Rayon and Nylon: Fabrics made from yarns and fibers, easy to manage and care for. You can tumble dry these fabrics. When ironing polyester, rayon and nylon clothes use low heat settings. These fabrics will burn at high temperatures.
Wool, Cashmere and Silk: Natural fibers just like your hair. Take care of them the same way and they will look as good as new always. You may have to clean them professionally (at the dry cleaners) if their care label says so, unless you are ready to take the risk (possible bleed, shrinkage, color damage, etc.).
Wash wool/cashmere/silk clothes with baby shampoo and hang to dry in cold water. Lay flat to dry for sweaters to prevent over stretchiness. Press from the inside before it is completely dry. Store in a dry dark place.
Do not hang wool clothes. They will stretch out of shape.
Do not hang silk clothes in the same position for a long period. They will damage at the crease the hanger causes.
BASIC WARDROBE CARE 104 (TIPS AND TRICKS)
Avoid Dry Cleaning: Clothing items that contain different isolation materials in the lining should avoid dry cleaning. Air drying these items is the preferred method. However, depending on your usage, the time might come for a dry clean. When going to a dry-cleaner, opt for green or ecological dry-cleaners that use CO2 or water as the primary solvent. If possible, bring a reusable dry-cleaning bag or ask your cleaner to simply skip the plastic.
Fill Your Washing Machine: Unless it is an emergency, wait until you have enough to fill a full machine. But don’t wait too long, as you don’t want to overfill your machine. Heavy loads cause friction which wears clothes out faster and may also result in the garments being poorly washed.
Lower Temperatures: Thanks to modern day washing machines and detergents you no longer need to boil your laundry. A lower temperature still gets the job done, while putting less stress on your clothing and the environment.
Skip the Dryer: Skipping the dryer is probably the most significant choice both in terms of doing the environment a favor and keeping your garments in good shape. Air drying is always the better option. But do make sure to dry your laundry immediately and don’t leave wet clothes in the machine since it will wrinkle and may eventually cause mold and mildew.
Steaming over Ironing:Depending on the fabric construction, some fabrics are prone to creasing and wrinkles. We recommend steaming over ironing, it's gentler to the fabric fibers. Most fabrics don't need ironing if you wash them on a lower cycle, gently shake or stretch the garment when it comes out of the washing machine and hang it to dry. If there is a setting on the washing machine called ‘reduced creases’ use it. If the garment needs ironing, it is best to refer to the garment care label to know what temperature setting is safe. When ironing cotton and linen items, use the iron’s damp function or steam setting. Giving the cotton or linen moisture before ironing will make the fibers smoother and the garment will flatten quicker.
Sort and Optimize: Different garments have different requirements and your laundry should be sorted accordingly. Sort by color and type (workwear vs more delicate garments) or temperature (warm vs cold). A good tip is to make sure that the garments doesn’t hurt each other in the machine, empty pockets, close zippers and make sure to not wash colored new garments for the first time together with lighter colors.
Treat Stains Immediately:If you get a stain on your garment, spot treat it immediately. Natural materials such as cotton, linen and wool generally absorb a lot which means that the longer you wait, the harder it gets to remove the stain. Unfortunately, there’s no universal treatment so make sure to read up on the best way to treat stains and garments.
Use Green Products: Choose an environmentally friendly laundry detergent and don’t use too much of it. Overdosing detergent will not make your clothes cleaner. Softeners are popular and they reduce the collection of lint. However, chemical softeners may damage the garment. If needed, use organic softeners. Do not use optical brighteners, chlorine, synthetic perfumes and colors, parabens, phosphates, petrochemicals and sulphates.
Wash Properly:Follow the care label symbols and instructions carefully, they’ve been designed to keep your clothes in great shape.
Wear More, Wash Less:Washing your clothes after each use is often more about habit than hygiene, and quite frankly mostly it is not necessary. In fact, washing less generally slows down the fading of color and ageing of your garment. Many garments just need to be aired and shaken out properly to be good for another wear. And many stains can be spot treated.
BASIC WARDROBE CARE 105 (FABRIC CATEGORIES)
Leather Goods: Long-lasting material made from tanning hides and skin of animals, mainly from cattle. The material is strong enough to withstand wear and tear. While treating leather, a light surface coat prevents the material from soiling and staining. It is normal for leather goods, such as handbags, shoes, wallets etc. to bear natural imperfections and irregularities. These natural imperfections make every piece original and exclusive to you.
Natural Fabrics: Derived from materials produced by plants and animals that are spun into filament, thread or rope to be woven, knitted or bound.
Synthetic Fabrics: Textiles made from man-made materials rather than natural materials.