Cherish your Clothing Investment: The Basics

Part 1 of a 2 part series.

Clothes are not meant to last but if you don’t take care of them they will really perish before their time. It doesn’t seem like a long time before the hem comes out of a pair of trousers or skirt or a button falls off.  Moreover, being able to buy clothing and knowing what you’re getting regarding care requirements helps you to make better purchases.  Taking care of your clothes, including your shoes, will save money in the long run and give you truly a working wardrobe.  If you are not one to replace a button, your neighborhood dry cleaners may be able to save the day.  They can also launder and press your shirts and make minor alterations.

  • Hangers

Invest in plastic, wood or padded fabric.  For the majority of your clothing, the plastic hangers will be perfect.  For heavier items such as blazers consider wood hangars; however, the plastic ones will suffice.  For knits, leather, and delicates consider the padded hangers.

Storing Clothing

When you pick up your dry cleaning, take off the plastic wrap before you hang them in the closet.  They need to air out.  When storing your clothes for some time, purchase garment bags made of natural fabrics that breathe rather than plastic.  Also make sure that your clothes are free from stains prior to storing.  Fruit stains fade garments over time, and any type of food stain attracts moths.  As an alternative to mothballs consider cedar chips that are a natural deterrent against moths.  When storing wool items place them in a dry area free from sunlight and consider placing them in garment bags with cedar siding to prevent damage from insects.

  • Caring for fabrics:

Washing machines have a multitude of settings that accommodate delicate as well as sturdy fabrics.  Understand that the principle behind washers getting your items cleaned is through rubbing garments together, so make sure that you don’t overload the machine when washing and get acquainted with all the settings and fabrics that are possible for optimal cleaning results.  Finally, make sure that your machine remains rust free by letting it air dry once you have finished using it.

As well, dryers today are capable of handling more types of fabrics then in the past.  Again review the manufacturer’s instructions and settings.  Keep the dryer in peak performance by removing lint from the lint drawer each time and make sure that there is no build up of lint behind the dryer.  If you have a tendency to use fabric softening sheets in each load, reuse them to avoid dryer build-up.

If items must be professionally cleaned, find out from friends one that they recommend.  A good dry cleaner changes their cleaning fluid frequently and steams without heating the garment to an extreme degree.  As well, when picking up your dry cleaning there won’t be an odor to them, a sign that the cleaner changes their fluid regularly.

Leather shoes, garments and bags: Shoe care is simple but extremely important.  Shoes are expensive especially well made leather ones.  No matter what shoes you own take care of them and polish them with a cream rather than liquid polish.  Polish protects the leather from drying out or being ruined by a sudden rain.  If you do get caught in the rain, let your shoes dry naturally away from direct heat such as a radiator.  Stuff the toe area with paper towels to absorb moisture and to help retain the shape of the shoe.  Remove any salt or stains with white vinegar and water mixed in equal parts.  Once they have dried out, condition and polish them.

At the end of the day take your shoes off and let them air out for 24 hours.  Consider using a shoe tree to keep your finer shoes in shape.  Also, put your shoes in clear shoe boxes which will help keep the dirt and dust from the air off of them.  In cold climates the salt on the roads and sidewalks should be removed from your leather items immediately with a soft cloth and warm water.  Leave the items in a dry cool place.

Check the soles and heels of your shoes periodically.  Are they worn out, with holes?  Send them to your local cobbler immediately.  Give the same consideration to your other leather goods such as brief cases and bags.  When you purchase a new leather brief case, treat it to a paste-polish rub down to keep soil from penetrating.

With new leather garments such as pants, jackets and vests, treat them with a leather protector spray before wearing.  Further, keep the garment dry when wearing and hang them on broad, padded hangars.  Regarding liquid stains, blot the stain immediately to remove the excess amount.  However, ink, paint, colognes, perfumes, hairspray and chemical stains can’t be removed so avoid these when wearing leather.  For powder, dust or mud use a damp sponge with warm water and wipe clean.  With suede items brush lightly away any dust or dirt after wearing.


About vseitz

Marketing Professor at California State University, San Bernardino and author of "I Don't Wear A Suit."

One response to “Cherish your Clothing Investment: The Basics”

  1. steve says :

    Great job Torie……………

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