If you take care of your things they will last a long time – this adage cannot be more true for clothes than anything else.
Most of the dresses you get in shops nowadays are ‘use and throw’ stuff. Not keepsakes that you save for generations. But there maybe some clothing in your wardrobe which you want to keep wearing for a long long time – the classics, the ones that fit you well, the heirloom one, or one of sentimental value like your precious wedding dress. And all you need to do is bestow some Tender-Loving-Care to your clothes.
In this article I will cover:
- Basic Garment care -20 Rules to follow
- Rule No. 1 – Buy quality clothes
- Rule No. 2 – Remove things from clothes before washing
- Rule No. 3 – Turn clothes inside out
- Rule No. 4 – Be moderate in washing
- Rule No. 5 – But, Do not over wear
- Rule No. 6 – Rely on professionals if needed
- Rule No. 7 – Sort clothes and bed linen
- Rule No. 8 – Wash lingerie carefully
- Rule No. 9 – Use quality detergent for clothes
- Rule No. 10 – Do not over expose to Sunlight
- Rule No. 11 – Prevent and remove lint from washer
- Rule No. 12 – Hanging may over-stretch some clothes -but not all
- Rule No. 13 – Change folds once in a while
- Rule No. 14 – Use appropriate hangers
- Rule No. 15 – Be careful when ironing
- Rule No. 16 – Repair tears immediately
- Rule No. 17 – Dry clothes before storing
- Rule No. 18 – Fabric care tips
- How to take care of clothes made of different fabrics
- Rule No. 19 – Store clothes properly
- Rule No. 20 – Prevent insects
Basic Garment care -20 Rules to follow
Rule No. 1 – Buy quality clothes
First rule for taking care of your clothes is to buy quality clothes. 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.
Use a clear nail polish top coat to reinforce buttons and prevent them from falling off. Stitch unravelling seams as soon as you see it.
Rule No. 2 – Remove things from clothes before washing
I cannot emphasize this enough, as this has destroyed more clothes of mine than I can tell anyone – because I forgot to empty pockets of tissues, didn’t zip up the zippers, removed pins, brooches, badges, and removed delicate embellishments like ribbon flowers before washing the garment in question.
This is difficult advice for the absent-minded (me!) and the busy moms. But the aftermath is sad, and laborious, so you may as well remember to.
Rule No. 3 – Turn clothes inside out
Turning the clothes inside out before washing is another good idea to maintain their looks. And some fabrics and clothes should be ironed from the inside out.
Rule No. 4 – Be moderate in washing
Do not overload the washing machine and do not use too much detergent. 2 table spoon detergent per load is what I use and I do not think more than that will clean more. It will just add to the soap residue remaining on cloth and pollute environment more than it already does.
And, do not wash more often than is absolutely needed.
Spray a mixture of water and vodka on clothes to freshen clothes between washing.
Mix equal parts of water and vodka and store in a spray bottle. Spray on high-odor areas like underarms, collars, and cuffs. Leave for sometime for the neutralizer to work. The unpleasant smell will be gone with this hack.
Rule No. 5 – But, Do not over wear
Do not wear socks and underwear more than once. This is basic hygiene as well as great for social skills. You do not want others to run away from you. No one will tell you the reason and you may never know the reason.
Use vinegar to make your own DIY clothes deodorizer spray
Mix water, vinegar, and essential oils to make this spray and sprintz on your clothes to remove bad odor.
Rule No. 6 – Rely on professionals if needed
If you have a very expensive dress with a garment label that says dry clean only, do not take the risk of cleaning it yourself. At least for the first two-three cleanings give it to the professionals. Choose the best dry cleaner you have in your vicinity.
Do not settle for a cheap place – you will surely ruin your garment for the sake of saving pennies. There are some clothes that need to be drycleaned.
Velvet, brocades, silk, expensive satin are all better left to the dry cleaners for cleaning. Tailored jackets and suits are also better dry-cleaned. Expensive clothes made of wool, acetate, rayon are all usually advised to be dry cleaned by the manufacturers (on the care label). Beaded and sequinned clothes will look better for longer when dry cleaned. If your clothing has any trims made of fur, leather, feathers – perfect candidates for dry cleaning unless you do not care. Stretchy sweater knit clothes, clothes made of open-weave fabrics also can be dry cleaned to prevent them from being shapeless. Another dress that you ‘should’ dry clean is one with a particular stiff shape – it may have been achieved by interfacing etc which will lose shape if cleaned at home.
Rule No. 7 – Sort clothes and bed linen
Another important rule is to separate clothes according to color before washing to make sure that colors do not bleed and latch onto other clothes.
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.
Keep dark and light-colored clothing separated to avoid color bleeding.
Rule No. 8 – Wash lingerie carefully
If possible wash lingerie by hand. But if you have no time for that, do wash the lingerie (especially brassieres) in a lingerie bag in the washing machine.
Checkout this tutorial to make a lingerie bag for yourself. The delicate lingerie will last longer.
Rule No. 9 – Use quality detergent for clothes
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. Learn more about using the right cleaning method (sometimes even without water)
If you have skin allergy symptoms, chemicals in the detergents used to wash clothes are usually a major culprit. Use a ph neutral detergent if you have allergies and you have to use store bought detergents.
Rule No. 10 – Do not over expose to Sunlight
Sunlight is good – it kills germs naturally, but it can be a destroyer if you over do it. It can bleach your colored clothes to a faded one, all naturally.
Hang to dry colored-clothes away from direct sunlight or for a short duration. The colors may fade with exposure to sunlight.
Place swimwear on a drying rack to dry
This is to keep the elasticity in swimwear, intact. If your swimwear is made of spandex (it probably is) do not dry in full sunlight. Sunlight also damages the elastic fibers, even more than hanging them to dry. The elastic fibers disintegrate….
Rule No. 11 – Prevent and remove lint from washer
Clean your washing machine regularly to remove all lint from inside. Sorting clothes prevent lint to an extent but this tip is also very useful.
Use a lint roller or fabric brush to remove pet hair from clothing.
Rule No. 12 – Hanging may over-stretch some clothes -but not all
Do not hang sweaters and other stretchy clothes (like those made with knit fabrics). They will stretch out of shape soon. They are best folded and laid down flat inside drawers.
Do not stuff your wardrobe with clothes. The best way is to remove not-in-season clothes or occasion-only-clothes into other luggage and store somewhere else. This way clothes will breathe easily.
Hang clothes in a cool, but dry place to prevent them from drying out and prevent wrinkles.
Leather can become moldy, or stiff, lose its natural oils, and develop cracks or creases if it is stored in a damp or very sunlit area. So choosing a cool but dry area is essential. High humidity in damp areas can make it look horrible with patches all over. Folding leather for a long time also leaves fold lines and cracks. Read more on leather care here.
Fold the washed and dried clothes and keep them neatly arranged inside the wardrobe rather than stuffed inside the laundry bag. There will be fewer wrinkles to iron.
Rule No. 13 – Change folds once in a while
If you are hanging clothes for a very long time, ensure that you change the fold at regular intervals. Otherwise the folded line may start to wear away.
Rule No. 14 – Use appropriate hangers
Rounded/padded hangers are great for hanging pants and shawls. Very thin metal hangers (plastic coated) are inexpensive but not so great for hanging your expensive clothes.
Never ever hang a wet cloth on these metal hangers. If there is a small crack on the plastic coating the metal stain will latch on to the fabric.
If you have suits / tailored jackets do use special padded hangers for them.
Rule No. 14 – Remove stains on the spot
After wearing your dress if you notice that there is a spot in your dress made by a food spill or dirt, dab the spot with a wet tissue / cloth at once. With time (the time it takes you to get home and clean it) the stain may have set in permanently.
And never ever apply heat on stains (iron or dryer) – after this, whatever you do to remove the stain may not work.
Splash blood stained clothes with salt water
(Do not do this if you feel that the fabric of your dress will bleed with wet spot cleaning; if so a dry swipe will be all you can do – and then take it to the dry cleaners). For more details on stain removal check out the post on getting stain out with natural removers here
Rule No. 15 – Be careful when ironing
I have many horror stories about burning clothes while careless-ironing. You have to know the right temperature for your fabric, else you will get burnt marks and even holes in your clothes – heat is unforgiving!
Use a pressing cloth when ironing silk and other delicate clothes
Rule No. 16 – Repair tears immediately
After wearing your dress if you see a tear in it, repair it immediately. Do not wait for repairing it after washing it – the washing will make the hole bigger. Mend it by darning or patching. Checkout these posts – darning ; mending tears on clothes; fix holes on jeans; sewing patches to repair clothes.
Keep a sewing kit handy for quick repairs.
You can keep one small sewing kit with bare essentials like a needle and thread and some neutral colored buttons in your car or bag for quick clothing repairs on the road.
Rule No. 17 – Dry clothes before storing
After you have worn a particular dress, and you are not going to wash it this time, check for any sign of dampness, even sweat. Hang it out (outside or inside under a fan) to dry before hanging it inside the wardrobe. Dampness will cause (especially from sweat) a bad smell. You can wear an underarm shield with very expensive dress shirts.
Moisture can cause mold and mildew and the stains they cause are pretty much unremovable.
Place a piece of chalk in your closet to absorb excess moisture and prevent mildew.
A dehumidifier in the room where the wardrobe is, can help contain humidity there.
Apply white vinegar to remove underarm stains
Acetic acid in vinegar dissolves the stain and neutralizes the smell of sweat. Apply the vinegar on the underarm stains before washing to remove the discoloration. Do use this caution with delicate fabrics or valuable garments. Read the detailed post for more tips on removing sweat smell.
Rule No. 18 – Fabric care tips
Learn all you can about the way you should treat different fabric fibers. Refer to the chart below for caring instructions for different
How to take care of clothes made of different fabrics
Wool and silk
Wool and silk are natural fibers just like your hair. So 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).
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.Checkout this post on wool care for more tips
Checkout this detailed post on taking care of your cashmere clothes for more tips
Do not hang silk clothes in the same position for a long period. Checkout this post on more tips to take care of silk clothes
Cotton and Linen
These are 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 has to 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 and Nylon
Polyester and Nylon are easy to manage and care for – washing and drying are quite easy. You can tumble dry these fabrics. When ironing nylon and polyester clothes use low heat settings. The fabric burns at high temperatures.
Learn more about Polyester care here.
Rule No. 19 – Store clothes properly
Store delicate clothes in mesh laundry bags to protect them from snags.
By snags, I mean small threads or fibers that get caught or pulled out from the fabric when you use clothing. For very delicate fabrics, this can appear even in storage. So using soft mesh bags, they will stay protected inside.
Rule No. 20 – Prevent insects
Place cedar blocks in your closet to deter moths and insects.
Cedarwood is supposed to be a natural repellent to pests, including moths, silverfish, and other insects that may cause damage to your clothes and fabrics. It is kept inside cupboards just as it is. Use 100% natural cedar blocks only.