Statistic Brain reports that Americans average about $121 in clothing purchases monthly, or just over $1,400 each year. Given the amount of money we spend on clothes (and remember that’s an average, so some people spend a whole lot more), it’s a shame to lose a favorite cashmere sweater to moth holes or to find cracked leather in a beloved pair of riding boots. Read on for expert tips on keeping your clothes looking new longer.
Clean clothing before storing it.
One common mistake is putting away out-of-season clothing without cleaning it. “If you don’t wash your clothes before you store them, any stains are going to oxidize or caramelize,” says Chris Allsbrooks, director of store operations for ZIPS Dry Cleaners. Even clothing that you wore only for a few minutes can still have body oils, perfume, dead skin cells or perspiration that may cause damage, so Steve Boorstein, founder of ClothingDoctor.com, stresses that “anything you wore during the previous season that you wish to maintain, you must have it cleaned before storing it.” Otherwise, stains may be more visible and more difficult to remove later on. Also remember that clothing should not be exposed to extreme temperature changes when it’s stored, so a basement or attic may not be the ideal storage spot.
Keep your closet clean and edited.
Cramming your closet full of items you rarely wear isn’t the ideal way to find or store your favorite outfits. Boorstein suggests emptying your closet once each season and keeping only the items you actually wear. This is also a good opportunity to clean your closet and give it a good vacuuming and scouring. “In the upper reaches in the corners of your closet is typically where moth sacks are made,” Boorstein says. “They’re very small, and it is the larvae that drop into your clothing and damages it.”
Launder with care.
Most people know the havoc a stray red sock can create in a load of white laundry. But Allsbrooks says using too much fabric softener or detergent is another common mistake. “If you add too much detergent, it will start to coat the fibers, and the fabric will start to feel clammy,” she says. Overloading the washer is also a problem that can abrade the fibers in your clothing. “Err on the underload versus overload side,” Allsbrooks recommends.
Differentiate water-based and oil-based stains.
Water-based stains result from bodily fluids, drinks and other substances that are made mostly of water. Oil-based stains come from French fries, bicycle grease, vinaigrette dressings and other forms of oils. This is an important distinction, according to Boorstein, because different types of stains must be treated differently. Most water-based stains should come out if they’re washed within 48 hours so the stain doesn’t have a chance to set. Oil-based stains have a splotchier appearance and should be sent to the dry cleaner’s for cleaning, he adds.
Store shoes for longer wear.
Most of us have a favorite pair of running shoes or boots that we wear constantly. But Boorstein says it’s actually better to let your shoes air out and release odors for several days between wearings. He suggests putting acid-free tissue or newsprint into the toe to help shoes maintain their shape. Leather shoes and handbags may “need to be treated and conditioned so that the leather does not crack or get brittle or dry,” Boorstein adds. Also avoid wearing leather or suede shoes when it’s snowy; Allsbrooks explains that salt on the sidewalks could discolor the fabric.
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