How to Make Your Clothing Last Longer
1. Insects are instantly attracted to dirty duds, so to keep pesky bugs at bay, make sure your clothing is completely clean and dry before hanging it in your closet or folding it in a drawer, says Brian Johnson, director of training and technical services at the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute in Laurel, MD. "Body oils, dirt and food stains invite insects to feast on material," he says. Also, if you keep dirty and clean clothing in the same space, separate them; even the tiniest crumb can call critters to come hither.
2. When it comes to safeguarding your garments, think cool, dry, dark places. "Sunlight can fade, weaken and yellow fibers," says Sam Nieves Valez, designer and cofounder of the clothing line Nieves Lavi. "Store an out-of-season wardrobe away from windows and skylights," he says. And if you live in a warmer, humid area, consider installing products, such as DampRid or Damp Check, to absorb moisture in your closets and drawers.
3. You may think you're protecting your finestby stashing it in the plastic from the dry cleaner's, but letting your clothing stay under cover is one of the worst things you can do. "Fibers need to breathe," says Johnson. "Plastic traps moisture, which can cause mildew, odors and color changes," he says. You can protect more delicate items, like formal dresses, by storing them in canvas garment bags (with windows so you can see what's inside) or cotton sheets to let air flow in and out.
4. A little hanging know-how can go a long waytoward lengthening the life of your clothing. Most sleeveless dresses have satin hanger strips sewn into the fabric for a reason: They prevent the straps from stretching, says Valez. It's best to keep jersey dresses with sleeves on hangers that have slightly molded shoulders to maintain their shape. Never hang knits; they can stretch out from the weight of hanging. Instead, fold them in a drawer or over a hanger, says Johnson.
5. Cramming clothes into every last crevice of your closetwill only end up crushing your attire, say Joe Lupo and Jesse Garza, cofounders of the luxury lifestyle consultancy Visual Therapy. Plus, a wrinkled wardrobe requires ironing, which increases the risk of damaging a garment. If you have the space, store off-season fashions in another closet, or fold pieces and place them in breathable canvas bins along with lavender sachets to deter moths and keep clothing smelling fresh.
6. Wire hangers are a definite no-no, especially for hanging knits and jersey materials. They can stretch out the fabric and cause misshapen shoulders and indentations, says Lupo. Instead, use flocked hangers or those with shoulder protection.
7. When a spot or spill strikes,avoid the temptation to rub it at all costs. "Rubbing breaks the fibers, which leads to color loss," says Johnson. Blot the area gently with a cloth napkin or paper towel. The sooner you get to the stain, the better the result. If you wait too long, sugars can caramelize and oils can oxidize, and then they're almost impossible to get out. Pretreat the fabric if it's machine washable (otherwise take it right to the dry cleaner's) with a spot cleaner before throwing it in the wash. Let it air-dry, as heat from the dryer can set stains, says Johnson.
8. Resist the urge to spritz perfume or hairsprayas your last step to getting dressed. "The alcohol within can stain and take the color out of what you're wearing, especially if it's silk, which is very susceptible to staining," says Johnson. Make sure these products are completely dry before putting on your outfit.
9. Pit stains are a pitfall in general, but did you know that they can leave indelible marks on your clothes' underarms? "The acidity from perspiration kills the fabric if it's not cleaned quickly," says Johnson. As soon as you notice the stain, clean it immediately. And let your antiperspirant thoroughly dry before getting dressed; the aluminum in the product causes staining. According to Cotton Incorporated, a textile research and marketing company, a great way to remove underarm circles from cotton fabrics is to apply fresh lemon juice and let it soak for 30 minutes. Rinse with cool water and then machine-wash with detergent and chlorine or color-safe bleach.
Clean with Caution
10. Sometimes there's nothing like a professional dry-cleaningto get your clothes looking like new, but don't overdo it. The process of washing with chemicals and pressing garments quickly takes a toll on fabrics, says Garza. Instead, try to hand-wash delicate items and let them air-dry so they get a chance to breathe. Only dry-clean them on occasion.
11. Tops of two-piece outfits are usually the first to go to the cleaners,mostly due to odors and sweat stains. But sending tops and bottoms out separately can cause a disparity in the fabric, says Johnson. The item that's more frequently dry-cleaned can become lighter in color than its mate. Always dry-clean both pieces together to keep the color consistent.
12. Be proactive and point out stains to your dry cleanerbefore leaving the store. "It's important to convey the causes of stains, because different types of spots often require different treatments," says Johnson. Stains are divided into two categories: solvent-soluble stains and water-soluble stains, and special chemicals are used to treat each one.
13. It may seem cliché, but sorting your stuff before washingit works wonders to preserve the color. "Just like Mom taught you, wash colors with colors and whites with whites," says Norma Keyes, director of product standards at Cotton Incorporated. Cottons have a tendency to wrinkle, so it's a good idea to add a liquid starch to the final rinse to make the fabric crisper when ironing it.
14. When you wash a delicate fabric like silk,refrain from wringing or twisting it dry; the fabric will streak. Most silk jersey can be gently hand-washed or spot-washed and placed flat to dry, says Valez. This will also save you a bundle on your dry-cleaning bill.
15. Heat from the dryer can take out the natural moisture of cottonand cause it to become brittle, says Keyes. So instead of drying for the full amount of time, put the load on a timed cycle; the moisture sensors in your machine will know when it's dry. Or, if you don't have a timed setting, remove your clothing while it's still damp and let it air-dry. This will restore softness to the fabric.
16. Denim may be a day-to-day staple,but wearing those jeans each week requires some TLC to keep them looking chic. Turn them inside out and wash them in cold water so the color doesn't fade and buttons and zippers don't catch on other things, says Johnson. Don't put them in an overloaded wash, otherwise you can get streaking. To avoid shrinkage, dry them at a lower temperature and remove them before the cycle is complete.
Video: Handle with care - make your clothes live longer - top 6 hacks!
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