luxury clothes care Tips for Protecting Your Investment

Seated woman surrounded by leather shoes and handbags.

What good is a cashmere sweater after a waiter spills a glass of red wine on it? A leather jacket that's mottled with mildew?

They're as good a new if you know the tricks of the fashion-care trade luxury clothes care basics.

Most of today's fabrics and blends are actually designed to be cared for at home. 

Considering the average load of laundry is valued at about $850 and that an average family sends eight to 10 loads of laundry for a spin in the washing machine each week, the answer is as important for your wallet as it is for your wardrobe. 

These luxury clothes care tips that may save your family's wardrobe.

Luxury Clothes Care Basics

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, the trim, or the binding requires hand washing, dry cleaning, or low-temperature washing and drying, this will determine the cleaning care. 

When in doubt, wash according to the primary fiber in the blend. It pays to know your fibers. Here's a guide to luxury clothes care by fabric type:

  • Cashmere: Got a red wine spill? Wash on the delicate cycle - or by hand - in cold 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 in a towel.
  • Linen: Linen washes well because it is stronger wet than dry. A 60-degree Celsius wash is most effective as that temperature smooths the surface of the flax fibers allowing stains to be released easily. Don't pack the washing machine to capacity when washing linen because the highly absorbent fiber can absorb twice its weight in water. Always iron linen when damp - first on the wrong side to eliminate creases and then on the right side to enhance the fabric's natural sheen. 
  • 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 a gentle, natural shampoo such as Aveda. Lay flat to dry. Machine drying can damage fibers.

Wash Clothes by Fabric Type

  • 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- not in the dryer. 
  • Lycra: If the other fibers in the garment are machine washable, this is the recommended method for cleaning Lycra. 
  • Hemp: This natural fabric washes well because it is stronger wet than dry. Machine wash in warm or cool water, permanent press or casual cycle. Hang to dry. Dry cleaning is not recommended.
  • Cotton: Don't get in the habit of taking your cotton garments to the dry cleaner. The chemical process may distort the color. 
  • Dry by weight: Dry lightweight clothes first separately to help prevent damage and shrinking. Lightweight, delicate fabrics such as lingerie are sensitive to heat and should be dried while the machine is cool. Average-weight garments like pants and dress shirts should be dried next followed by heavyweights like towels and jeans, which can handle the hot drum.
  • Dry fuzzy stuff separately: Separate lint-shedders, such as fuzzy sweatshirts, chenille robes, flannels and towels, from lint-keepers, such as knits, corduroys and permanent pres and synthetic fabrics.
  • Leather: Gently blot liquid stains with a clean cloth or wipe with a clean damp cloth. Treat mildew stains on leather garments by blotting a small amount of antiseptic mouthwash on the affected area. 

If a label says "Dry Clean," instead of "Dry Clean Only," it may be hand washable. 

Cleaning Shoes and Handbags

To keep shoes looking like new, store them in the shoeboxes 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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