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Ashley Gartland

Ashley Gartland

December 22, 2014

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Clothing Care

Too often we buy sophisticated, expensive clothes for work only to stain them, shrink them, or stretch the pieces out in the wash—usually right before a big presentation or interview. But keeping a wardrobe looking shiny and new isn’t so hard with the help of a few tips. By heeding how you care for and store your clothes, you’ll lengthen the life of them, and continue to look classy, clean, and presentable for every occasion. Here’s our list of tips to get you started.

Get close to your cleaner. Be as selective with your dry cleaner as you are with your boyfriends, to make sure you’re going to get what you need from them. Recommendations help, as does being up-front with your needs as a customer. For example, if you want your clothes pressed a certain way or all your sweaters folded rather than hung on hangers, give your dry cleaner that information up front. Also, avoid dry-cleaning matching tops and bottoms separately, as the chemicals dry cleaners use can distort a garment’s color.

Use the right detergent. There’s a difference between powdered and liquid detergents. Learn it. Powdered detergents work best for hard water and for removing mud and clay, while liquid detergents are the better option for removing grease, stains, and oily dirt from your clothes.

Try the colorfast test. To avoid turning all your clothes the same color as your new red capris, always check for colorfastness on dark clothing before washing the piece. To do a colorfast test, dampen the fabric in a discreet spot (like along a seam) and blot at it with a white cloth to see if any color appears on the cloth. If color does appear, you’ll need to wash the item separately until it doesn’t leave color on the cloth.

Get creative with stain removal. For stains, special tools (think Spray ’n Wash) are great to have on hand. But for a quick fix when you’ve run out or don’t have a stain wipe handy, some common household items can help remove stains as well. For example, absorbents like cornstarch and liquid detergent can help absorb oil stains; for red wine or berry stains, you can simply cover the stain with salt, then stretch the fabric over a bowl and pour boiling water from a kettle over it from a height of one foot.

Invest in good hangers. Once your clothes are clean, you’ll want to store them properly. And if you’re like most women, you probably only wear a small percentage of your wardrobe on a regular basis. Translation: The majority of our clothes spend most of their time in our closets. So, good hangers—i.e., not the wire kind—are the only hangers you should have. Invest in cedar, wooden, or plastic hangers that are curved and follow the shape of a shoulder to help your clothes retain their shape. And be sure to recycle those old wire hangers at the dry cleaners.