- “How often should your clothes be cleaned?”
Unlike oil changes and food freshness, clothes don’t come with instructions about how frequently they should be cleaned. Some people have a regular rotation, whereas others rely on the wrinkle or sniff test.
There’s no right answer. It varies with heat and activity during the garment’s use, how much someone perspires and whether the garment gets stained. The Dryclean & Laundry Institute offers helpful guidelines developed from a survey of consumers who were asked how often they wore specific garments before having them dry cleaned.
Guidelines for Frequency of Cleaning OUTERWEAR MONTHLY DURING THE SEASON AND THEN BEFORE STORAGE DRESS EVERY THIRD WEARING SKIRT EVERY FOURTH WEARING BLOUSE EVERY OTHER WEARING LAUNDERED SHIRTS AFTER EVERY WEARING; AT THE MOST EVERY OTHER WEARING POLO SHIRTS AFTER EVERY WEARING KHAKIS OR CASUAL PANTS EVERY OTHER WEARING DRESS PANTS EVERY THIRD WEARING SUIT EVERY THIRD WEARING SPORT COAT OR BLAZER EVERY THIRD WEARING WOOL OR COTTON SWEATER EVERY THIRD WEARING SILK SWEATER EVERY OTHER WEARING EVENINGWEAR, TUXEDOS AFTER EVERY WEARING
- “My son is furious with me. His baseball uniform shrunk when I washed it. What can I do to avoid the problem in the future?”
A. Sports uniforms get a lot of wear and tear in the spring! Too high dryer temperatures can cause excessive shrinkage and permanent wrinkles. Other common problems are color loss and mud stains. Uniforms are usually made from synthetic fibers such as nylon, polyester and spandex. Prior to cleaning, test the garment for colorfastness to avoid color transfer to other articles. Wash in a low temperature to reduce the chance of bleeding colors.
For mud stains, let the mud dry, brush off the excess and pretreat before washing. Before placing the uniform in the dryer, make sure all traces of the stain are gone. The dryer heat will set stains, making them permanent, so if any discoloration remains, you’ll need to repeat the process above before drying.
- I am having trouble with zippers that won’t go up after washing. Some are made of metal, but most are plastic. Are zippers really this much of a problem?
A. When this happens, the cause is usually using too much detergent when washing the garment at home. This tends to remove some of the lubricant in the zipper. An easy way to solve most zipper movement problems is to run a candle up down the teeth once or twice. In the case of plastic zippers, some drycleaners may press a garment at a higher than appropriate temperature and damage a zipper. In this case it will need to be replaced.
- “Members of our family have their favorite baseball-type caps that get very dirty. What’s the best way to clean them so they look good and the bills don’t loose their shape?”
A. Here are a couple of suggestions. First, you can gently hand wash a cap in mild dish detergent. After rinsing, let it air dry. Second, you can get an inexpensive plastic cap form that’s made to keep the cap’s shape while being washed. The big problem in washing a cap is the bill. Since it usually contains cardboard, it can bend and even become badly distorted while being washed. The hat form, which is available through stores and catalogs featuring household items, helps solve this problem. Once the hat is in the form, it can be washed in your dishwasher. Avoid high temperatures since they can melt the plastic form and the plastic hooks in the back.
- Can lights in a closet cause fading?
A. Yes! Use low wattage lights in closets and allow no direct sunlight from windows or skylights as sun fading can result.
- “I received an invitation to a reception that says “corporate professional”. What in the heck does that mean?”
A. Today’s terminology can be a bit baffling. At one time, there was formal, business and casual attire. Today, we can have smart casual, dressy casual, business casual and so on. Corporate professional means suits of a single dark color, made of fabric like wool or linen. Some like to call this “power dressing.”
- “I’m a soccer, football and basketball mom. And by default a kids’ uniform caregiver. It seems like a full-time job…and it is. With new uniforms, how can I keep the colors from running and bleeding when I wash them?”
A. This is a popular question this time of year. While laundering is certainly the best way to remove heavy soiling from kids’ uniforms, check the care label for instructions. Bleeding of colors is often caused by water-soluble dyes. Some manufacturers recommend washing in cold water, since colors often bleed if washed at a higher temperature (such as mesh jerseys). Uniforms are usually dried at low to medium temperatures, although for some synthetics air-drying is recommended.
- “My office has a ‘business casual’ policy during the summer month; yet, it is difficult to know what to wear because everyone interprets the term differently. What do you suggest?”
A. It’s important to recognize that the way you dress sends a message about your confidence, capabilities and judgment. Studies show that in a corporate environment, casually dressed workers run the risk of being taken less seriously and earning fewer promotions.
Many image consultants suggest that men pair dress pants with a non-matching blazer. Shirts should be high quality and neatly pressed since they are seen above the desk. Slacks and skirts and unmatched jackets and collared shirts work for women, also. Business appropriate dresses (no party-look such as sun dresses and high hemlines) work as well.