by Kerri Winick, GalTime.com Beauty Editor
Each winter, there always seems to be one sweater that's sacrificed to the fashion gods. It's been shrunk to doll-size proportions because you swore you could wash it yourself, or it ends up warped and faded in the back of your closet.
It can be downright maddening -- especially when you saved up forever for that amazing Marc Jacobs sweater you had to have, like, yesterday. (Can you tell I'm just a little bitter?)
Here at GalTime, we're working hard to minimize sweater-catastrophes, so we chatted with Mary Marlowe Leverette of About.com's "Guide to Laundry" for tips on keeping your garments in fighting shape.
It's a CashMiracle: Contrary to popular belief, cashmere sweaters don't always need to be dry-cleaned. Save some dough by learning when to drop them off and when to drop them in the washing machine.
- If cashmere is used to make a structured sweater or coat, the garment should be dry-cleaned.
- For soft, unstructured, cashmere sweaters, hand wash in cool water using a mild detergent. Cashmere is, after all, the hair of a goat and is used to being wet!
- When hand washing, rinse well and never wring.
- Dry your sweater flat and reshape during drying.
- Got wrinkles? Iron the garment inside out and while it's still damp.
- Be sure to place a press cloth between the iron and the cashmere. What's a press cloth, you ask? Basically, it serves as a protective barrier between the iron and the sweater. You can buy one, but clean, household items work just as well. Think cotton towels or dish cloths.
- Almost all fabrics can be washed gently, but sometimes it's the inner linings and construction that can't get wet. So if the care label says "dry clean only," believe it!
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Clean Machine: We know, we know. While it would be amazing to have a sweater stash that's purely cashmere, most of us don't have the luxury. When debating how to wash the other fabrics in your wardrobe, ask yourself these questions:
- Are there spots or stains that you don't know how to treat?
- Is the garment made from acetate or rayon? Both can shrink or become misshapen in water.
- Is there a special finish on the garment? Stiff fabrics have a stabilizing finish to help them hold their shape that water can ruin.
- Is the garment difficult to iron? Structured garments, such as suits, can be difficult to iron and often lose their shape when washed.
- Is the garment leather or suede?
- Is the garment made of a fiber that you're not familiar with and have never successfully washed at home?
- Is the garment special to you?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, take your prized fashion possession to a professional dry cleaner.
Stain solutions: Always remember to treat a stain as quickly as possible after it happens.
- Begin by removing any solid matter (like that leftover onion dip -- yuck!) using the dull edge of a kitchen knife.
- Never rub the stain because you will push it deeper into the fabric.
- Blot the area with clear water and a clean white cloth.
Paging Dr. Pill: Sometimes it seems like you practically need to be a surgeon to remove pills without leaving a gaping hole in your sweater. Here's how to do it right (sans scalpel, I might add):
- Weigh the value of the garment before you attempt to slice. Is it really worth it? Will anyone really notice the pills, or are they simply bothering you?
- If they're an eye sore, pull the fabric taught on a curved surface and carefully cut or shave the pill from the fabric.
- For a more high-tech solution, try D-Fuzz-It. It costs about $3.00 and won't harm the fabric.
Storage Secrets: Always fold sweaters and knits. Placing them on any type of hanger will eventually allow their weight to warp and stretch them.