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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 some essential 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 "Dry Clean" Mean "Dry Clean Only"?

If the label reads "Dry Clean" not "Dry Clean Only," it may be hand-washable.

If the garment is simply constructed with no sewn-in should 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 Hot New Fabrics & Some Old Favorites, Too

It's new, it's so cool it's hot, but how do I take care of it after I get it home? From the kids' new stuff and your old favorites, it pays to know your fibers. Here's your guide to cleaning fabrics by type of fiber.

  • Acetate: Wash in warm water, with color-safe bleach, drip dry. If ironing is need, iron inside out with a cool iron. Store in a cool dry place, away from sunlight.
  • Cashmere: Got a red wine spill? Wash on the delicate cycle - or by hand - in cool water. Don't wring cashmere - you'll damage the fibers. Reshape and lay flat to dry, away from direct heat or sunlight. To remove excess water after washing, gently roll it in a towel.
  • Hemp: Hemp is a natural fabric whose popularity has grown over the past decades. On the bright side: It washes well because it is stronger wet than dry. Machine wash hemp in warm water, on the washing machine's permanent press or casual cycle. Hemp dries quickly - hanging dry in a cool dry place is sufficient. Hang hemp in old dry-cleaning bags to prevent wrinkling.
  • Microfiber: Wash in cool water with colorsafe 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 cool water, using the machine's hand wash or delicate cycle. Dry flat or on a dryer rack - not in the dryer. 
  • Linen: Linen washes well because it is stronger wet than dry. A 60-degree Celsius wash is most effective, as that temperature smoothes the surface of the flax fibers, allowing laundry stains to be released quickly. Don't pack the washing machine to capacity (ever), and especially not when washing linen. The highly absorbent fiber can absorb twice its weight in water. 
  • 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 cool water, without bleach. Drip dry. If needed iron inside out, steam iron.
  • 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

Generally speaking, whites, very dirty or greasy clothes, and sturday, colorfast fabrics that retain their dye can be washed in hot water.

Light colors that won't run, regular and sturdy fabrics, towels, jeans, cottons, sheets, sturdy playwear, school uniforms, 100 percent manmade fibers, blends of natural and manmade fibers, and moderately soiled stuff are best washed in warm water.

Dark or bright colors that may run or fade; delicate fabrics including washable silk, Spandex swimsuits, and active wear; and delicate lingerie should be washed in cold water.

Cold water will also minimize the shrinking of washable woolens. It's also okay for lightly soiled clothes. Always use cold water for clothes stained with blood, wine, or coffee. Warm water could set these stains.

Care and Cleaning of  Shoes and Handbags

Consider protecting your shoes in the future 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 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 may 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. Blot a bit of household white vinegar on a soft rag and place it on the shoe's stain marks. Allow it to soak into the leather a few minutes, then rub the cloth on the area to gently remove the stain. Allow to dry before wearing.

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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  • Laundry Temperature: Hot, Warm, or Cold?

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› Taking Care of Luxury Clothes


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