Clothing & Jewelry Care Tips and Tricks
How to keep clothes looking like new: Maintenance matters: ask you dry cleaner to use a lower temperature and a shorter cycle than usual to protect frequently treated items from over-processing. These would be the items that are cleaned more than once a month. Request that your whites be cleaned in new or recently distilled solvent. If the solution is dirty, your white fabrics can pick up that residue. You must take special-occasion pieces to your cleaner after each outing, even if they look spotless. A silk dress may not immediately show any stains, but months later, even barely traceable oils and perspiration could discolor the material. It’s better to clean it before storing to eliminate the risk of ruining a gorgeous dress.
Read labels – note the fabrics and cleaning requirements Gabardine, wool, polyester, microfiber, Lycra and spandex-enhanced fabrics can become shiny if ironed too hard or with too much heat. Instead, you can request they be pressed by hand or with an iron shoe, which protects them. Dry-cleaning solvent also wears off the waxy finish of a waterproof coat, so ask for it to be reapplied.
Spots: The longer a stain sits on a fabric, the more difficult they are to remove. Take the soiled item to the cleaners quickly, tell them what caused the stain, and ask for a pre-spot treatment. If the item is machine or hand-washable, pre-treat at home: equal parts of water and dishwashing liquid for oil stains; four parts soap and water and one part clear vinegar for organic stains, like fruit, tea and dirt; six parts soap and water and one part ammonia for protein stains like blood and milk. When in doubt, just bring the item straight to the dry-cleaner.
Keeping new bags and shoes in tip-top shape:
For Shoes: regular maintenance, and proper storage are key. Take new shoes to a cobbler and have a thin a thin rubber tread attached to each sole (usually around $25 per pair). This is especially helpful for pointy-toed styles which tend to wear quickly. Keep leather shoes clean and polish them regularly. For non-leather, try a protective spray such as Vectra 16 ($19.95, vectraspray.com). This can be used on everything from suede to fabric.
Storage: Whenever possible, keep footwear in the original box (plastic containers trap air) and punch holes in the sides for circulation. Don’t store light and dark shoes next to each other, in case the colors bleed. Instead, store in a cool, dry place since humidity can ruin leather. Also, consider investing in shoe trees, which can sometimes double the life of a pair of shoes.
Handbags: To keep leather bags in good condition, apply polish regularly (a neutral tone works best) and avoid over-stuffing, which can cause permanent stretching. For suede, it is recommended to use a suede brush regularly to remove dirt and lift the nap of the surface. For patent leather, apply white vinegar to cheesecloth and rub the surface to clean, then wife off. Handbags made of cloth, whether silk or canvas, should be taken to a professional for dry-cleaning. If your bag develops a sticky zipper, give the teeth a quick rub with a candlestick to lubricate it.
Storage: Store bags in old pillowcases or t-shirts, never plastic bags which can trap mold-causing moisture.
Suits & Coats: Avoid too many trips to the dry-cleaner. Over time, the chemicals can cause color fading and the fabrics can detach from the backing. Instead, wear a suit 4-5 times before having it cleaned. For leather or hide coats, consider professional waterproofing to protect them from the elements ($25-$30 at most dry-cleaners).
Storage: Stuff white tissue paper into the arms and shoulders of coats and suit jackets. Hang both (along with skirts or pants) on large hangers that won’t stretch out shoulders and then place in a breathable cloth garment bag. Steer clear of plastic garment bags which can trap in air and dry-cleaning chemicals.
Sweaters: Care for wool and cashmere gently. Hand wash sweaters at least once for every time they are dry-cleaned. The preferred method is in a sink full of lukewarm water and a capful of Woolite. Another option is baby shampoo. Dry flat on a towel atop a counter or table. Never hand a sweater on a bar or cord to dry. The weight of the water will stretch it out.
Storage: At the end of the season, place in plastic bags, Ziploc work well in a pinch, with cedar chips to deter moths and pack into boxes. Remember to hand wash the sweater first so that it is fresh over time.
Lingerie: Treat lingerie as you do fine sweaters. Hand wash in warm water and Woolite. If you must use a machine, only for 100% cotton, make sure to use a mesh bag and separate bras from underwear. Try to forgo the dryer, which can destroy fine fabrics. Hand dry for best results, like in France.
Storage: Store bras folded in half with hooks closed. Full slips should be hung on hangers to prevent wrinkling.
Party-wear: Clothing that is beaded, sequined or embellished with rhinestones or other decorations presents unique laundering challenges. Take it to a dry-cleaner. Sequins can be easily dry-cleaned, but only if they are sewn on, not glued on. Glass beads can get chipped during cleaning, so it is best to request each bead be covered with a bit of aluminum foil to protect the surface.
Storage: In cloth bags, on hangers that won’t stretch out shoulders.
Jeans: They do require gentle care, especially to maintain color or a degree of worn-in-ness. Wash jeans infrequently and use only cold water. Black jeans may do best if washed in the sink, using cold water and Woolite. This will keep colors from fading. Always wash dark colors inside out to prevent fading.
Furs: storage store in a sealed cloth bag (plastic is death to fur) and keep out of light and heat. Also, consider skin conditioning if the item is vintage.
Fashion Emergency Fixes:
~ Soak dull diamonds in vodka for serious sparkle.
~ Press collars or hems of 100% cotton clothing with a flat iron to save time.
~ Scuffed up patent leather: Wipe with milk and buff, it’s gentle and will leave a great shine. Remove shoes stickers with a blast of the hair dryer for 30 seconds.
~ Stuck zipper: rub a pencil on the teeth (graphite acts as a lubricant on metal)
~ Stop jewelry from turning green by sealing the inside with clear nail polish.