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luxury clothes care tips

What good is a pair of pink Prada linen mules after a bus splashes them with gutter grunge?

A cashmere sweater after a waiter spills a glass of red wine on it? 

They're as good a new if you know the luxury clothes care basics.

After all, one of the most important aspects of fashion is keeping all those precious garments looking clean and well-maintained after you get them home.

These luxury clothes care tips can help you safely tackle some of the toughest stains you're likely to encounter.

Luxury Clothes Care for Basic Blends

It's new, it so fresh it's hot - but how do I take care of it after I get it home? 

When it comes to luxury clothes care, it pays to know your fibers and clean accordingly.

With any fabric blend, tailor your cleaning to the most delicate component of the garment.

You'll find that info - and suggested cleaning methods - on the garment's care tag.

If either the fiber, trim, or binding requires hand washing, or low-temperature washing and drying, this determines the garment's cleaning care.

When in doubt, wash according to the primary fiber in the blend.

Does a "Dry Clean" Label Mean "Dry Clean Only"?

But when clothes are labeled dry-clean only, must you obey?

The dry-cleaning industry will tell you, yes, and if you can't live without that silk blouse, you should comply.

If you clean it yourself, you risk damage like shrinkage, color loss or fading, and fabric texture changes - silk can lose its sheen, and linen can end up looking lumpy instead of crisp.

The benefits: If you don't mind gambling, you save money and have the item ready when you need it.

Your best hand-washing bets (cold water, please) include plain-weave light-colored silks, cashmere (washed inside out), fuzzy sweaters, and fancy loose-weave knits. 

If the garment is simply constructed with no sewn-in shoulder pads, lining, or delicate trim, has no sequins or beads glued to the fabric; and is not open-weave or loosely woven, give it a try.

Hand-wash only please with a gentle fabric wash. 

Caring for New Fabrics & Some Old Favorites

It pays to know your fibers. Here's a guide to luxury clothes care and cleaning by fabric type:

  • Acetate: Wash in warm water, with color-safe bleach, drip dry. If ironing is needed, iron inside out with a cool iron. Store in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight.
  • Cashmere: Got a red wine spill? Wash cashmere on the delicate cycle - or by hand - in cold water. Don't wring cashmere - you'll damage the fibers, and don't use bleach. To remove excess water after washing, gently roll it in a towel. Reshape and lay flat to dry, away from direct heat or sunlight.
  • Hemp: Hemp is a natural fabric that washes well because it is stronger wet than dry. Machine wash hemp clothes in warm water, without bleach, on the washing machine's permanent press or casual cycle. Hang hemp garments in a cool, dry place in old dry-cleaning bags to prevent wrinkling.
  • Microfiber: Wash in cold water with color-safe bleach, drip dry. Store in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight.
  • Pashmina: Don't be afraid to wash this silk and cashmere blend. It spent 30 to 60 minutes in water just below the boiling point, followed by two washes during the dying process that made it so lustrous-looking. Wash in warm water with gentle laundry detergent or baby shampoo. Lay flat to dry. (Machine drying can damage fibers.)
  • Beaded blue jeans: Turn inside out and wash in cold water, using the machine's hand wash or delicate cycle. Dry flat or on a dryer rack or towel - not in the dryer. 
  • Linen: Wash linen in warm water without bleach. Allow to drip dry in a cool, dry place; hang in old dry-cleaning bags to prevent wrinkling. Linen should always be ironed damp, first on the wrong side to eliminate creases, and then on the other side to enhance the fabric's natural sheen.
  • Rayon: Wash in cold water without bleach. Lay flat to dry in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. If needed, iron inside out.
  • Silk: Wash in cold water, without bleach. Drip dry. If needed, iron with a cool iron. Store in a cool, dry place, sealed against insects, light, and air.
  • Spandex: Wash in cool water without bleach. Drip dry. Store in a cool, dry place.
  • Wool:  Wash in cold water, without bleach. Lay flat to dry. If needed, iron using the wool setting. Store in a cool, dry place. Cedar chests are ideal, or store with cedar chips.

Choosing The Wash Water Temperature

How important is the right laundry temperature

It directly affects the performance of the laundry detergent, the wrinkling of fabrics, and the life span of your clothes - so follow the care labels.

If the label is not legible, remember that hot water works well on ground in and hard-to-remove dirt on sturdy fabrics. 

Warm water minimizes color fading and wrinkling. 

Choose it for washing synthetic fibers, natural and synthetic blends, and moderately soiled fabrics. 

Cold water will protect most dark or bright-colored clothing from running and minimizes shrinkage of washable woolens.

Use it for lightly soiled clothes and those with blood, wine, or coffee stains (which may set if washed in warm or hot water), regardless of fabric. 

If you're going to do a cold-water wash, check first for stains and spots and pretreat garments; detergent doesn't clean heavily soiled areas as well in cold water. If you do lots of cold-water washes, consider using a laundry detergent designed to work in all temperatures.

But for the rinse cycle, cold water is excellent for all types of loads. Another benefit: A cold-water rinse can reduce the energy used per load by up to one-third and minimize wrinkling in synthetic and permanent-press fabrics.

Care and Cleaning of  Shoes and Handbags

Protect your shoes by giving them a quick spritz of a Scotchguard-type fabric protector before the first wearing. Reapply every few weeks. 

To keep shoes looking like new, store them in the shoe boxes they came in, or in clear plastic shoe bags.

Even if you don't venture out in them regularly, your shoes can become stained and damaged by merely hanging out open and exposed in your closet, quietly gathering dust.

Dust causes some of the worst damage to shoes. So keep your shoes - especially the good ones - covered. 

  • Vinyl or patent leather shoes and handbags can be revived with a spritz of Pledge furniture polish directly on the handbag or shoes. Or, spray the furniture cleaner onto a lint-free cloth and buff away.
  • Linen mules or handbags can be sponged clean with warm water and mild soap, such as Dove, dissolved in warm water. Leave heavy soils to a handbag or shoe repair shop or specialty dry cleaner to prevent discoloration.
  • On leather, skip the hair spray remedy you read about. It's sticky and dulling and doesn't work. Vinegar, however, does. Remove stains with a bit of household white vinegar on a soft rag. Rub the cloth on the stained area to remove it. 

Now that you know the basics of luxury clothes care, get out there and strut your stuff confidently! No matter what manner of stain or blight befalls you, you've got it covered.

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› Taking Care of Luxury Clothes