Tips for Garment Care
Beware of The FTC Care Label
• While most garment manufacturers take great pains to give you reasonable care label instructions, there are some instructions that should make you wary.
• Spot Clean Only- this means the garment must be cleaned inch by inch, by hand! It is time consuming and costly. This instruction works best for a dark color garment and one that you plan on wearing only on special occassions.
• Dry Clean Exclusive of Ornamentation- this means your cleaner must remove all the trim, buttons, bows and other ornaments BEFORE the garment is processed, and then sew them back on again. Another time intensive and expensive process.
• Two Distinctly Different Label Instructions- if the care label on the garment’s lining calls for washing and there is another label on the face fabric that suggests dry cleaning, your cleaner will have to remove the lining in order to process in accordance with the Care Label instructions. You don’t want to know how much that would cost.
• DRYCLEAN ONLY. DO NOT TUMBLE. AIR DRY AT 100º it is virtually impossible for an environmentally friendly drycleaner to follow this instruction.
Beware Tooth Care Products
• It’s the ying and yang of the world of tooth whitening. If you’re using tooth brightening dental pastes or treatments, use them before you dress in the morning or after you’ve changed when you get in at night. Why? Because these new toothwhitening products are such effective bleaches that when they splatter on to your clothes they can remove the color! What you may see as a tiny white mark that you think will just brush off, is in fact, a colorless spot. That is permanent!
• Taking precautions to protect your garments from these products will preserve and protect your wardrobe from the harmful effects of… who would believe it? Toothpaste!
Leather -The Nature of the Beast
• The very nature of the beast (no pun intended) makes imperfection in the basic skin (which was used to make your leather garment) inevitable.
• The leather tanner’s job is to treat and color the hide (a process similar to a woman applying make up to her skin) to even out the look and tone.
• Keep in mind that time and cleaning will eventually effect these treatments (the same way washing your face removes make-up) revealing the actual condition of the animal hide.
• That is why your cleaner will often recommend recoloring after cleaning. This is process is just what it sounds like – a redying/spraying of the garment to replace the finish that is naturally lost over time.
Fur Forever –
When Properly Stored
• According to the Fur information Council of America, professional conditioning and storage during summer months is the most critical step in extending the life of your furs.
• Keeping your fur garments at home during the summer can be very costly mistake. Both standard and cedar closets are not suitable for long term storage because they cannot duplicate the conditions for proper air circulation constant 50oF and 50% humidity to maintain valuable moisture. Caution! The smell from the use of cedar and mothballs will adhere to fur and leathers, creating lasting unpleasant odors.
• The Council also warns, “When fur is not (properly) stored, the hair itself may appear fine but the natural oils of the (underlying) leather will begin to dry out.” According to them, “Home storage, using air conditioning or a cedar closet, won’t protect your fur from drying out or from becoming dirty and cannot protect against oxidation which can discolor fur and change its texture.” In fact, they point out; closets at home typically are 10oF warmer than the rest of the room.
Color Loss Is Par For The Golf Course
• There’s nothing quite like a day of sun and fun spent at the golf course, but bear in mind as you’re getting a sun tan, your golf shirt is getting bleached of some of its color. This is especially true in the shoulder area and above the waist.
• Unfortunately, the sun isn’t the only problem. Tree sap (which will undoubtedly find its way onto your clothes) turns acidic with time, and this chemical reaction also pulls color.
• Next problem: Salts from perspiration and deodorants will also affect the dyes, sometimes turning them on ‘orange’ hue. That’s why it’s important to quickly professionally clean or launder these garments to remove the offending acids in chlorides. While fast action is no guarantee, it is the best chance you’ve got!
• Ironically, these color loss problems don’t usually manifest themselves until after the shirt has been processed. So while it might look ‘okay’ to you before hand, the invisible damage shows itself after the fabric has been exposed to heat in the drying process.
Color Code Your Closet
• Sure, your friends may tease you about it, but the fact is when light garments are stored near dark garments, the sublimation of dyes can occur. This is when nitrogen gas causes dark dyes to vaporize and redeposit on light garments, creating stains.
• So stand up to the jeers of friends and family, knowing the practice of color coding the clothes in your closets helps to ward against the silent staining of your light colored garments.
Beware When Wearing Silk and Satin
• Silk, satin and other fragile or loosely woven fabrics are especially vulnerable to snags and abrasion.
• A coat or jacket lining made of a textured fabric could create enough friction to damage fine yarns.
• Minimize contact between ornamented handbags, jewelry and shoulder straps and these fine fabrics. The simple act of resting a beaded clutch in your lap can result in irreparable fabric damage and abrasion (use a pocketbook hanger)
• The same applies to contact with a shoulder bag strap, charm on a bracelet or a prong on a ring.
• Take careful stock of your outfit and the accessories and be mindful of those things that could snag your lace gown, satin skirt, or silk blouse.
Wedding Gown Care Tip #4
Storing Your Wedding Gown After Cleaning
• Store your gown in a cool, dry, dark place. Never store it in an attic or basement where hot and humid conditions exist and temperature fluctuations may result in the accumulation of moisture inside the box, which can cause mildew and staining. The box will not protect the dress from poor storage conditions.
• Select a bridal chest (tissue and bust form too) that is acid-free and of archival quality and has been properly sized for the skirt and train of your gown. Protect it in a muslin cover – never use plastic.
• Protect the dress folds by using acid-free tissue or fabric as well.
• The bride should periodically don white gloves, open the box, gently remove and “air out” the gown, then refold and return it to the box for long term storage.
Wedding Gown Care Tip #3
Handling Your Wedding Gown After The Party Is Over:
• Have the gown cleaned promptly after the wedding. With time the stains oxidize and become more difficult to remove. NOTE: generally speaking, wedding gowns attract a host of difficult to remove stains – grass, mud, alcohol, etc. Be realistic in your cleaning expectations.
• Inspect the gown before putting it away. Question your cleaner about any trace evidence of stains that are still apparent and ask about the risks involved if more aggressive stain removal attempts are made. Trace stains may oxidize over time and discolor.
• Do not wrap the wedding preservation chest in plastic. Plastic off gassing may result in yellow stains in white garments and trapped moisture could result in mildew conditions.
Wedding Gown Care Tip #2
Handling You wedding gown before the big day.
• Hang your gown on the loops sewn into the gown that are connected to the side seams. Do not hang the dress by delicate shoulder straps.
• Hang it someplace safe – away from sunlight, ventilation ducts and sharp edges.
• Select a place that household pets and children won’t be able to get near it.
• Protect gown with unbleached muslin gown cover.
• Apply perfume and hair sprays before putting the gown on! Also allow these products to dry.
• When handling the dress wear clean white cotton gloves and remove jewelry that might result in snagging.
Wedding Gown Care Tip #1
What to do when selecting a Wedding Gown.
• Check the serviceability of sequins, beads, crystals and other decorative trims, even some of the most exclusive designers can be cavalier about this.
• Glued on trim will never hold up as well as trim that is sewed on.
• Check the sewing of trim work. Make sure it is carefully executed so beads don’t start dropping off as the bride marches down the aisle.
• Make sure there is a care label sewn into the dress, and avoid labels that say “spot clean” or “dry clean exclusive of ornamentation”.
• It’s oh, so easy to damage a knit garment. Often, your drycleaner can undo the harm you inflict, but your garment will last longer and look better if you follow these simple steps:
• Don’t push up the sleeves! Yes, your drycleaner can reblock the garment, but that process won’t be effective forever. Eventually, the resiliency will be gone, and the only way you’ll be able to wear the item is with a pushed up look, and there are times that just won’t work for you.
• Take care not to stretch the neck when putting it on and taking it off. Gently lift and remove.
• Don’t wear heavy weight brooches or pins (they’ll pull on the delicate threads and eventually have you talking to your drycleaner about his reweaving services).
• Remove pins promptly and never put knit garments away with jewelry still attached.
• Handbags, belts and even safety seat belts can be a source of abrasion that can cause pilling. Wear them with care.
• Don’t let anyone stick an adhesive nametag on your knit wear.
The Word on Wool
• Wool is a wonderful fiber – resilient, long wearing and depending on the weave and weight, it is a natural insulator to keep you warm in winter and naturally breathable to keep you cool in summer.
• Because of it scale like construction, you need to take care to avoid friction situations which can result in pilling. While your professional drycleaner can “card” the fabric, thereby removing the offending “pills”, it best for the long term well-being of the garment if you avoid cinched belts, shoulder bags, crossing your knees so that they scrape the underside of a desk or table and a poor fit that results in excessive rubbing when you walk or swing your arms.
Taking Care With Your Scarves
• Don’t leave your scarf knotted after wearing it.
• Do not pull or tug on the knot to loosen it. Gently reverse the procedure you used to knot it.
• Do not iron a scarf that you’ve already worn to press out ‘knot’ creases. The heat of the iron will permanently set any invisible (ex. Tannin) stains that may be present.
• If the scarf was stained during the course of wear, take it in promptly for cleaning and request hand finishing. It’s the only method to preserve the ‘roll’ in a hand rolled hem.
Sun’s Rays Pull Color
• You can protect your skin with sun blockers, your eyes with UV sunglasses, and your hair with a cap, but aside from walking the streets with a parasol, there is no such protection from the sun for your clothes.
• The same sun that lightens your hair color, will also lighten the color in your clothes. As would be expected, the color loss will be more apparent in dark color garments.
• Shirts are most susceptible, with prime areas being the shoulder area, the back, and if you tuck your shirt in, above the waistline.
• Perspiration, in combination with the sun will accelerate the process.
• Prompt laundering or professional cleaning after each wearing is strongly recommended.
Sun Damage and Your Home
While you may not think in terms of sun damage as it impacts your home furnishings, the fact is sunlight takes it’s toll on your draperies, carpets, upholstered furniture and even your woods! Here are a few tips to help you forestall sun damage in your home:
• Find a way to incorporate shades and blinds into your decorating scheme. Blinds and shades take the brunt of the sun’s fore, and in the process protect your draperies, which otherwise would be the first line of defense.
• Fully closing blinds or lowering shades when the draperies are drawn will protect them further. If you’re out for the day, make it a practice to close the blinds before you leave.
• Lined draperies have a longer useful life than unlined draperies; the lining will succumb to the suns effects before the face fabric. Often the lining can be removed or replaced, thereby extending the life of the drapery.
• Rotate your draperies. If possible rotate draperies that are exposed to direct sunlight with draperies that are either protected by walls or have a different exposure.
• Avoid purchasing draperies in the same fabric as upholstered pieces. The fact is that no matter how many precautions you take, a certain amount of sun fading is inevitable, but as long as the patterns aren’t identical, a slight color loss won’t be noticeable.
• Be sure to close your windows when the sun isn’t shining or rain is forecasted. Watermarks are among the most difficult to remove stains on draperies.
• If your windows sweat (build up condensate) take measures to keep your draperies away from them. The condensate will cause water rings the nemesis of draperies.
• If you’re thinking about window replacements, consider UV-filtering glass, it will help prevent ultra –violet rays from wreaking havoc on your home furnishings.
• Finally, when the heating or cooling season is upon you, make sure your drperies are not in front of the air intake or discharge vents. Your don’t want you draperies acting as an air filter.
Storing Knits-Hang Up The Hanger
You shouldn’t hang knits, for prolonged periods of time, but if you feel you must hang your knit garments:
• For tops-use a properly sized padded hanger
• For skirts and slacks- do not use the hanging loops provided, they will distort the garment; use a soft clip hanger and take extra care to position the garment so it doesn’t droop, sag, or stretch which will lead to distortion.
• But, if you really want to treat your knitted garments royally and properly, use tissue, gently fold them and store them flat! That’s the right way to do it.
• Keep sequined garments away from direct steam- steam causes them to either discolor, curl up or both!
• Alcohol (the kind you drink or the kind found in perfumes) will discolor sequins. Make sure your perfume has thoroughly dried before dressing and sip your cocktail very carefully.
• Sequins are generally sewn on using a continuous thread, so if the thread snaps, more than one sequin will be lost. Gather them up and save them. An expert tailor can restring them (like pearls) and sew them back on for you.
• Glued on sequins will often prove to be unserviceable. Clean or launder at your own risk.
• Don’t use home spot removers on sequins. They may remove color or cause them to get ‘tacky’.
Selecting the Right Hanger
• The all-purpose hanger is ideal for a standard suit or mix and match separates. It is a space saver and a popular choice, but provides limited support for the collar area.
• The deluxe shaped hanger with its gently rounded corners, extended length and collar support is the ideal hanger to use to maintain the shape and drape of ‘important’ suit jackets, blazers and sport coats.
• The notched hanger is designed to accommodate those items which are either susceptible to clip marks or over the bar creases. They are also recommended for items too delicate to be solely supported by the shoulder straps on the garments; in these cases the manufacturer will provide hanging loops to ease the strain on fragile straps.
• Padded hangers are perfect for fine items- silk tops, lingerie, etc.
Scarves – A Saving Grace
• A scarf not only looks great and serves as an outfit making fashion accessory, but it can protect your garments, especially expensive coats, leathers, furs, etc. from make-up stains, neck perspiration and body oils.
• So even if you don’t consider yourself a “scarf person” rethink your position. Indulging in the luxury of this accessory is also protecting your most treasured garments.
• Finally, when you bring your scarves into your drycleaner, be sure to request hand finishing, it’s the best method for hand rolled hems.
Remove Our Plastic Wrap FAST
• Yes, you want to protect your stored clothes from airborne dust and particulate, but NO, you do not want to use the plastic covers that drycleaners place over your garments. That plastic is strictly designed for short term, in transit protection! Long term use of these plastic covers will suffocate the garment, trapping harmful gases and moisture and very possibly causing staining, mildew or other mishaps.
• Always remove the plastic, and to protect your garments, cut a hole in a clean, unbleached white sheet and place that over your stored garments.
Raincoats and Water Repellency
• Like everything else in life, rain resistant finishes get old, tired and weak. Normal wear and tear, abrasion, spills from hot beverages and cleaning will affect these water resistant coatings and finishes so that they no longer perform their rain repelling function.
• Don’t dismay. Many professional cleaners can reapply a water resistant finish to your CLEAN raincoat. (Unfortunately, this finish must penetrate the fabric and the garment must be clean in order for it to be absorbed evenly.) Ask about water repelling at the first sign your raincoat is losing its resistant touch.
• Remember, a raincoat that doesn’t repel the rain will let the water get to your clothes, causing serious collateral damage, not to mention that cold, raw, miserable feeling you get when you get caught in a down pour.
Purchasing Knit Wear – Fabric Structurer
• Three key properties that affect stability of knits are: loop structure of the knit, grain of the garment, and fiber content.
• Look for knits with firm even stitches. The knitted loops should be round, rather than elongated or long as if they were stretched. Often, knit fabrics are stretched during processing. Remember, the rounder the loop, the less shrinkage should occur.
• Also, check the grain of the garment. Usually the fabric is knit first then the garment pieces are cut out.
• Some knits are circular. In this case, the body of the garment forms a tube and there are no seams. With either type of construction, the vertical rows of loops in a knit shirt should be at right angles to the hem. With shirts and jackets. The side seams should fall below the underarm, If side seams or vertical rows of loops twist around the body, the problem will only get worse after washing or professional cleaning.
• Look carefully at the rows of loops; they are indicative of the quality of the item.
Purchasing Knit Wear – Construction
How do you judge quality in a knit garment?
• First check for overall smoothness, flat construction, even stitches an absence of needle holes, broken stitches, or loose threads.
• The garment should be cut on grain to avoid twisting of seams after washing.
• Quality seems are serged or finished, lie flat, do not draw up, yet have some give or stretch to allow for dressing.
• Also look for double needle stitching at armholes.
• Neckline and waistband seams are a sign of quality and makes these areas more secure.
• Because knits stretch, shoulder seams and neckbands are often taped for reinforcement. Some garments even feature a second layer of fabric or wide tape at the collar stand or neck back to retain shape in the area.
• Occasionally, turtleneck sweaters feature a seamless neckline, which is more expensive construction. This approach is designed to hug the neck, lie flatter, and be more comfortable for the wearer.
• Look at other garment details too:
– Collars, pockets, and zippers should be smoothly applied.
– Look at buttonholes; will they stretch out of shape during use?
– Are pockets reinforced so that the stitching will not come out with repeated use?
– Note trims as well. Are the stitches secure or will they pull out easily? Also, does the trim or decoration inhibit stretch in the fabric to the extent that it might affect comfort or appearance?
How well a garment is made affects durability as well as appearance over the life of the garment.
Protect Your Clothes at the Hair Salon
• We all know the hair salon drill. The aspiring model/ receptionist type directs us to the changing room, where we weigh the wisdom of removing all our street clothes and wearing their robe, against just slipping the robe on OVER our clothes and doing the cover up approach. Well, wonder no more. The answer is… take your clothes off and wear the lousy robe.
• Here’s why: hair sprays and coloring solutions contain products that can discolor your clothes, and any staining that occurs is permanent, just like your hair color.
• These products can seep under, around, over and through towels and other cover up gear, damaging your clothes irreversibly. Even an unintended splatter or spray can hit the mark on your pants or skirts doing damage that you may be unaware of until you clean or launder the item. So, our advice is – Go for it. Take it all off.
Perfume Is Harmful to the Health of Your Clothes
• These days navigating the main floor of a department store is like running an obstacle course as we dodge and weave past folks who want us to sample the latest and greatest in fragrances. While this is a great chance to find a new scent, it’s also risky business for your clothes.
• Perfumes, colognes and other scented products often contain alcohol and other ingredients, which can discolor your garment. A little dab on the wrist and there goes a slight color change at the cuff. A light spray at the neck and the collar become a problem. So much as you may be tempted to test out the newest scent, do it with care for your clothes.
• When you’re dressing at home, apply your fragrance well before getting dressed and give it plenty of time to dry.
Moth Prevention and Control
If You Suspect You’re Feeding Moths
1. Find the sources. Use a flashlight to inspect all the dark undisturbed nooks and crannies that the clothing moths like. Check clothing and carpets for telltale signs of moth infestation such as threadbare type spots or holes in clothing or woven carpets, moth larvae, or silk webs spun by the larvae. (If you find dried skins from larvae or sandlike droppings, they’re likely from carpet beetles rather than moths. clothes moths typically like dark, quiet places and may be found under or behind furniture, in closets or in boxes of stored clothing.)
2. Vacuum the entire house, especially the infested area, (and continue to vacuum it regularly), disposing of the vacuum bags promptly (the bag may contain the moth’s eggs or larvae) and cleaning the vacuum brushes in between so as not to spread the infestation.
3. Wash down the floors, walls, ceilings, shelves, drawers and interior surfaces of all infested areas.
4. Even if you don’t see evidence of moth damage, it is important that you dry clean or launder (in temperatures over 120°F) all items kept in the infested area. Do this immediately and do not move them into another area of the house, which might result in a spread of infestation.
5. Consider calling a professional exterminator. Over the counter pesticides must be handled with care, but are not as potent as professional products.
Match Wear & Care
• Don’t make a suit, a separate! Wearing one piece of a matched set or suit can result in uneven wear and an eventual variation in color between the two items.
• Garment makers often warn consumers about the potential for slight variations in color after cleaning or washing, (buying tip: take matching items into natural light to make certain the items are from the same dye lot).
• It is always recommended that matching pieces i.e. suits, sweater sets, etc/ be cleaned together, regardless of whether or not both pieces were worn or appear soiled.
• This ‘clean matching pieces together’ advice also applies to bedroom ensembles, slipcovers, draperies, etc.
Cashmere, When It’s Right
• Cashmere is soft, light, warm and wonderful, but it is not a durable fabric. In other words, it’s susceptible to wear, tear and microscopic abrasion.
• For longer garment life, consider a blend of cashmere and wool. It will maintain its ‘look’ better and longer.
• Buying tips: If you tend to wear more skirts than slacks, keep in mind that a shorter cashmere coat may look very stylish, but won’t provide your legs with much extra protection against the cold. A very long coat may keep you warmer but leave you with a hemline that acts as a magnet for every bit of debris on the streets. That’s why, for your everyday “go to” coat, darker colors are more practical.
• Maintenance check: if you compare all the use and abuse your coat takes to a suit or jacket you wear a few times a month, you’ll realize the importance of regular cleaning to keep this winter staple looking its best day after day.
Storage – Clean, Cool, Dry and Dark
• Never store any garment unless it has been dry cleaned or laundered first and all stains have been removed. Body oils, perspiration, invisible tannin stains, dead skin cells, etc. are all magnets for moths and other destructive pests.
• Always store in a cool, dry, dark and well- ventilated space. Attics and basements are not recommended, as they can be damp, hot or poorly ventilated.
• If you are using storage chests or covers avoid plastic (plastic can emit fumes that will damage dyes and/ or fibers). If you are hanging your garments for long term storage, protect it from dust using an unbleached cotton or muslin cloth, OR if you are packing your garments away select a storage box that is acid free or a clean suitcase.
Stain Removal Old Wives Tale
• The use of hair spray or worse yet, alcohol, is a frequently cited home remedy for ink stains and is one that firmly belongs in the unsafe, “old wives tales” category. The big reason you want to avoid it (even if it’s worked for you in the past) is the risk of the alcohol “pulling color” from the garment, a condition that is impossible to reverse.
• If you visit other internet websites in search of some stain removal guidance, you will inevitably see the classic disclaimer: “I am NOT responsible for any damage to your fabric after you use any of these tips. Use your own discretion when cleaning any garment. “ The disclaimer is there for a reason – stain removal is risky business.
• The safest stain removal tip is “blot, don’t rub and bring it in to your drycleaner promptly for treatment”.
• Fresh stains are much more likely to be removed safely.
Snow and Salt – Savior and Stainer
• When the snow starts to fall, we’ve got to thank heaven for salt. It keeps the sidewalks and driveways from icing up, and us from slipping and sliding.
• Unfortunately, snow and salt turns into slush and that can wreak havoc on your clothes!
• When salt saturated snow and water (aka slush) splashes on your clothes, the salt can pull color, leave rings and permanently stain your winter garb and footwear.
• That’s why it is so important to clean or launder your snow- splattered clothes promptly! Protect your winter wardrobe and preserve it for use again next season by cleaning often during cold weather.
• In years gone by a touch of spandex (also known as lycra, elastane, et al) was found in swimwear, lingerie and undergarments. Today, the fiber’s use has expanded and garment manufacturers of both casual, business and formalwear will often blend a small percentage of spandex to tops, suits, slacks, and skirts.
• BEWARE. The same problem that historically existed with elastic in under garments, swimsuits, and sleepwear exists today—snapping fibers that protrude from the fabric and often looks like lint.
• Spandex fibers snap because they are very susceptible to the least bit of abrasion
• Snapped spandex is more visible on darker colored fabrics
• Any % of spandex (lycra, elastane, etc) means you want to avoid ANY friction: crossed knees rubbing under a desk or table, A shoulder bag strap or a tight fitting belt, overcoats or trenchcoats that do not have smooth (silk or satin) linings, wearing a seatbelt or shoulder strap in a car.