Insight News

Feb 13th

Time to winterize: Proper care for winter wear

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winter-coats-1I’ll never forget a conversation I had with one of my closet childhood girlfriends. Having just had a baby, she was lamenting about how her visiting Jamaican mother-in-law was stressing her out. When I pressed for details, I learned that my girlfriend had a problem with the fact that her mother-in-law did not wash her own pants after every single wear. It drove my girlfriend crazy, so her solution, between frequent nursing sessions, was to wash grandma’s clothes every night for her. Really?! I had to keep it real, “Girl, I don’t wash my pants after every wear either-you better leave grandma alone and let her help you with that baby!”

Based on that conversation, I started taking an informal poll among friends and researched “rules” on frequency of washing and wearing clothing. Of course, we all must use our common sense-if it stinks or it’s dirty, wash it-but I thought it might be helpful to consider a few helpful guidelines for caring for clothing, especially winter wear. These tips are sure to save you time and money, which you should never wash.

Down coats and vests should be washed about two times per season. If it’s your young child’s coat, expect more washing. The important thing is to first read and follow the garment’s care and cleaning instructions. Use a mild non-detergent product, since detergents and dry cleaning can flatten the feathers. To dry, let the coat tumble on low with a couple of clean tennis balls; it will help to redistribute the feathers.

Wash your hats, gloves, and scarves three to five times a season, or as needed. Remember that facial and hair oils, makeup and perfume buildup on these items. In addition, gloves pick up loads of germs throughout the season. For best results, hand wash knits and dry-clean leather gloves and structured hats.

While hosiery should be washed after each wear, if you are in a pinch and have no time for a wash, pop them in the dryer for ten minutes with a dryer sheet (note: use caution with other clothing, as dryer sheets have been known to leave stains).

Pants and skirts should be washed after about five wears. Winter fabrics like tweed, wool, and velvet are probably best dry-cleaned, which can be done at home to save money. Woolite’s Dry Cleaners Secret, works like a charm, and I highly recommend it. Steaming is another way to refresh clothing between washings.

Clean your sweaters after two to five wears. More delicate items-cotton, silk, or cashmere should be washed more often. Wool naturally repels dirt, and dust, so you can get a few more wears out of it, before cleaning. In addition, to extend the life of most items, hand wash and skip the dryer.
Wool coats can be cleaned one to two times a season. To keep odors under control, hang your coat so it can “air out” before putting it back into the crowded closet. Spot cleaning of the collar and cuffs can be done with a damp cloth and mild soap.

Keeping your winter gear in top shape, doesn’t have to be difficult. My advice to you, dear friends, is to keep it clean-just not too clean. You don’t have time to be a prisoner of your washer and dryer. After all, there’ll soon be driveways and sidewalks to shovel. By following these helpful guidelines, and using the common sense that your mama taught, you should be winter ready in no time-Let it snow! Enjoy!

Marcia Humphrey is an interior decorator and home stager who specializes in achieving high style at low costs. A native of Michigan, she and her husband, Lonnie, have three children.


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