How to Keep Your Clothes Looking Like New

Try as we may to keep our clothes in tip-top condition, life (meaning spills, stains and holes) happens. But does that mean faded black shirts or stretched out sweaters really deserve to be given the heave-ho? Not if you have some patience, a little skill and some luck on your side. Read on for ideas on how to salvage (and possibly save!) your less-than-perfect garments.

The problem:

After a summer in storage, you take out your prized sweater, only to find it has a gaping moth hole.

The solution:

Depending on the size of the hole, you have a few choices, says Denise Wild, founder and managing director of The Sewing Studio in Toronto. Darning is always an option (the practice of hand-stitching with a needle and thread) for small- to medium-sized holes, as is taking it to a professional for the repair job. As for larger problems – holes that are bigger than a quarter in size – you can try taking it to a tailor, but be prepared: it may be impossible to repair, or can be very expensive for such a large fix.

The problem:

You want to restore your once-white (but now pink) T-shirt to its original glory.

The solution:

You might have a chance if the shirt wasn’t exposed to heat from either the washer or dryer (both will lock in the botched colour), but even then, removing red dye from clothes is far from easy. Your best bet: Submerge the shirt in a tub of cold water and add a capful or two of bleach. Leave for five to 10 minutes and rinse with cold water.

The problem:

Your favourite sweater shrunk in the wash.

The solution:

Cotton and wool materials respond best to this dampen-and-blot technique. First, wet the sweater until damp and then lay flat. Then, using a dry towel, blot away moisture, being sure to shape and stretch the sweater as you go. Let air-dry. Tip: To combat stretching issues, don’t hang sweaters on hangers – the weight can cause the shoulders to lengthen and droop. Instead, fold and store in drawers or in a ventilated closet.

The problem:

Your white dress shirt is not-so-white in two very noticeable places.

The solution:

Getting rid of underarm marks (caused by natural body oils, deodorant and fabric absorption) isn’t easy but it is possible, depending on the fabric in question. While cotton responds to pre-treatment with stain remover and hot water before it’s washed in warm water, silk requires a heavier, professional hand to dye the fibres back to their original shade.

The problem:

Your formerly black T-shirt has taken on a lovely shade of grey.

The solution:

Short of buying a replica or learning to love your faded T, your best bet is to try dyeing it in cold water at home. (Having it professionally dyed costs a pretty penny and doesn’t necessarily guarantee a higher success rate.) Just know that you could end up with splotches of colour instead of an all-over fix, and that dyeing at home can leave residue in your washer that could taint your next load.

Credit: Liz Bruckner

Published in: on May 17, 2010 at 1:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

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