Today, consumer society is a confusing thing to be a part of: on the one hand, we’re encouraged to buy, buy, buy as much as we can, and to treat everything that isn’t brand new and shiny as if it’s defunct, obsolete and replaceable. On the other hand, however, post-recession critics are trying to get us to rein in our spending, and to make the absolute most of the items that we already have so we don’t end up shelling out unnecessarily for new things. Because I’m a bit of a budget fiend, I’m a fan of this second mindset: I’m all for shopping, don’t get me wrong (!), but I also think we need to look after our purchases so they last longer and stay as beautiful as they were on the day we bought them. To help you with this, I’ve put together a list of 8 basic clothing care musts.
1. Dry and Bug-Free
It is vital that you store your clothes correctly. While different textiles have different specific requirements, all items need to be kept away from moisture and in a pest-free environment. If you think you might have a problem with moth, for example, your will need to get yourself a repellent ASAP.
2. The Right Hangers
Experts always suggest hangers over folding as a storage strategy for your clothes. Never go for thin, wire variations – these will stretch your garments into odd shapes. Instead, opt for cedar wood hangers: these are broader to give your clothes better support, and they also play a role in diffusing musty odours.
3. Wash before You Store
It’s never a good idea to hang worn clothing up in your wardrobe, especially if you think you’re not going to take it out again for a while. Moths are attracted to the natural oils and body odours that are bound to have insinuated themselves into the fabric, and so will be more likely to lay their eggs in this garment than in the others.
For many people, cotton is something of a staple fabric. It is breathable and absorbent, and as a result, it becomes the repository for sweat, antiperspirants and natural oils that are drawn into its fibres. In order to prevent staining in problem areas like the arm pits and around the neckline of some tees, it’s a good idea to treat these places with a stain remover before they go into the washing machine.
5. Bag It
If you are washing very delicate items – lingerie, lacy tank tops etc – it’s a good idea, initially, to check the care instructions to ensure that it is safe for them to go into the machine. If it is permissible, place the fragile garments into a specially designed net bag (available from most good supermarkets); this will protect them during a vigorous wash cycle.
6. Tumble Dry with Caution
Always check before you put clothes in the dryer and pay special attention to the care instructions accompanying knitted garments. Wool should never go in the dryer: it comes out infused with an unpleasant, burnt smell. Instead, hang your jersey or cardigan over a sturdy drying rack and allow the moisture to evaporate naturally.
7. Embellished Items
Beaded or sequined garments, or those which are intricately embroidered, need special attention as well. Again, this kind of thing often requires hand washing, however, if the care instructions state that it can go into the machine, always turn the item inside out so the beadwork or tapestry is on the inside. This will help to keep it intact throughout the cycle.
8. Iron with Care
As you will know, certain textiles cannot be ironed, and indeed, a lot of items which are supposed to be iron-safe often come out of the process looking shiny, singed and generally a little worse for wear. Always check you garments care instructions before you get to work on those wrinkles, and remember never, ever to iron over a stain. The mark will set on the fabric and become immovable.
With a little attention and some effort, you can make your clothes last and keep them looking spanking new. This list of 8 clothing care musts should help to get you started: do you have any useful suggestions or handy hints to share?
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