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Outfits Not Just Clothes ...
Clothing Care Mistakes
By Bernadette Ulsamer

Once I accidentally put my husband’s wool sweater in the dyer, which shrunk and then became my sweater. Then there was the time I made the same mistake again and now it’s our daughter’s sweater. Most people have a similar story about a laundry mishap, even those of us who are meticulous when it comes to caring for our wardrobes. Regardless of your personal style, or if you even care about style, everyone probably has a high-maintenance garment or two in their closets that require special attention. So, to avoid damaging your clothes and to keep them looking great, here’s a rundown of common clothing care mistakes and how to fix them.
First, dry-cleaning isn’t always the best option. In fact, the main chemical in drying-cleaning solutions, perchloroethylene, is a carcinogen that, when used in excess, can be damaging for your clothes and irritate your skin. Instead of dry-cleaning after every wear, machine-wash on the delicate cycle with a gentle detergent like Woolite. Of course, if you have a particularly gnarly stain on a dry-clean only piece, or it’s been a while since your garment has made the trip to the cleaners, then by all means go.
Once you pick-up your dry-cleaning, don’t leave your garments in the plastic bags long-term. It may seem like a good idea to keep your dry-cleaning protected in plastic, especially if you’re not going to be wearing that piece for a while, but polymers in plastic can leak over time and cause discolorations. Better to swap out that plastic with vinyl garment bags. This way, when you are ready to wear that item again, you won’t find it marked or streaked from weeks, or even months, of hanging in plastic. As an added bonus, vinyl deters moths!
Speaking of moths, how you store your seasonal clothes could be putting them in harm’s way. Climate plays a big role in protecting (or harming) your off-season wardrobe. In general, avoid storing clothes near heat sources, like radiators. Also, moist environments, like damp basements, will cause fabric to breakdown more quickly. Try to find a cool, dry place and, for your more expensive pieces, consider garment bags.
For pieces currently in rotation, try padded hangers. Wire hangers can snag and distort fabric, plastic hangers can also warp clothing, and wooden hangers can cause tears. If you really want to protect your clothes, padded hangers are a solid investment that you’ll only have to make once, since they hold up over time. However, not all clothing is meant to hang on a hanger. Knitwear should be neatly folded in a drawer that’s not overly stuffed. Hanging sweaters and sweater dresses may cause them to “grow” as heavier fabric can stretch over time. Hanging up cardigans and pullovers can create indentations in the shoulder area. Folding knitwear helps maintain its shape and fit.
Beyond storage and hanger type, some pieces are going to need a bit more TLC. Leather in particular can be high-maintenance. Real leather is in essence skin and, much like your own epidermis, in order to maintain longevity, moisturizing is key. I’m not suggesting you go and rub your leather goods with the same Jergens you use on yourself, but instead use a specialized leather moisturizer made for apparel. You can find a reasonable moisturizer on the Coach website for $10 and Amazon has a variety of products, but not all leather moisturizers are the same. Some are for clothing, handbags, and belts, while others are meant for upholstery, so read the descriptions before purchase.
Another product to check out is carpet cleaner! Carpet cleaning solutions not only remove tough stains from your rug, but can also work on difficult fabrics like silk. Just spray the stain as you would if you were spot treating a carpet, then wait five minutes. Voila, the stain disappears! For grease spots, try baby powder: Dab, rub in, then brush off the excess powder.
Lastly, when you do accidently shrink a piece of clothing as I did above, it doesn’t have to become an automatic hand-me-down to a smaller family member. For pieces rendered in a porous fabric like wool and cotton, try stretching it back to its original, or close to original, shape. Soak the garment in cool water with ¼ cup of hair conditioner, then reshape and lay out flat to dry. The conditioner acts like a fabric softener, making the garment more malleable.
Overall, your best bet for maintaining the integrity of your clothes is by reading and following their care instructions on the label. However, the tips and tricks here go the extra mile in helping you care for your clothing even if you do stain, shrink, or forget to neatly store your garments.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   
   
   
   
   
   
 
 
 
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