You’ve Got the Style, But How Do You Clean It?
Fall fashion is here, and your winter wardrobe is near. We’re all guilty of wearing our favorite garments a couple extra times before cleaning it, but is that OK to do? Absolutely, but there are risks involved. There are obvious signs of “Clean Me Now!” such as noticeable stains or odors that we simply cannot cover. At this point you should get your items cleaned by either washing them or taking them to the cleaners. It’s the not so obvious factors that can harm the fibers of your favorite go-to item or most prized outfit, and once discovered these are the ones that hurt.
Lucky for you there are articles, resources, and your mother’s wisdom to help you protect your favorite fall clothes for the long haul. Here are 3 tips to protect your clothes by cleaning the right way.
Own a wool, cashmere, or angora sweater? Read this. Sweaters should be dry cleaned. If you wash them at home the garment could lose its softness, acquire a fuzzy or old look, or worst of all shrink. If you store them in your closet without cleaning them after each use you run the risk of falling victim to moth damage the next time you clean your sweater.
Clothing moths can cause considerable damage to materials containing wool, fur, or other animal derived products. Their larvae like to feed in dark protected areas making closets a nice landing spot. They are attracted to stains or perspiration in the fabric. Damage from moth larvae occurs from feeding on the fibers and weakening the material. Unfortunately, the real damage is typically seen after dry cleaning a garment because the agitation of the cleaning process causes the weakened area to give out. This results in small single hole (or often in clusters).
Note: This info also applies to wool suits and scarfs
Here are a few tips to reduce or avoid moth problems:
-Thoroughly clean storage areas
-Store clothing in tightly sealed containers
-Deterrents such as cedar, mothballs, or sprays can be helpful, but won't guarantee protection.
Raincoats or Outerwear
Raincoats and outerwear don’t need to be cleaned that often, but when you’re ready make sure to check the clothing care label! Often the best way to clean them is by hand wash or a delicate wash cycle. Do not use fabric softeners when washing. Hang them to dry, and they are ready for another wear. Many care labels state “Dry Clean Only,” but be cautious of a material called Polyurethane. Often abbreviated as P.U., this material is extremely dangerous to dry clean because it contains a coating to keep it soft that can easily dissolve in dry clean solution. If the manufacturer’s coating isn’t stable, the material can stiffen up, blister, or flake off.
Leather / Suede
A fall favorite, leather and suede garments are a great low maintenance choice. Make sure with both materials to avoid water at all costs. Exposure to rain can be dangerous, as can trying to wash these items like your normal clothing. Washing with water or standard dry cleaning won’t cut it. Your quick fix is to blot with a white rag to remove surface stains, but try to avoid excess moisture. Do not rub these garments, as it can cause discoloration or color loss. The best solution to clean them is to have a professional leather and suede cleaning service do the job. Most reputable dry cleaning companies will over this specialty service or can recommend someone if they can accept the item at their store. This service comes at a cost, but it is worth it! Curious how it’s done?
- Stains are worked on first
- The item is cleaned in a machine with peanut or olive oil to keep material soft
- Fatty soaps are then used on the item (Same concept as using lotion for your skin)
- The item is cured and dries naturally with air
- Pressed warm without steam
- Bagged and sent back to customer.