Caring for Your Clothes

Back in the 1960’s, Ginger routinely used an outdoor clothesline to get that “fresh and clean” smell…..

Because she was as passionate about cleaning as she was about fashion/style, Ginger was a true expert on caring for clothes….I learned that it takes time (hand washing, ironing, laundry), money (dry cleaning, fur storage), and specific products (SNO-WHITE moth balls, a clothes horse) to get the job done……yes, I may take some short cuts, but generally I learned this lesson well. Caring for your clothes is important so they look their best and last a long time….if you invest in quality pieces, consider the time and money in maintenance/cleaning as part of your investment.  One of you recently asked these questions on this subject:

  • Do you dry clean after every wear?     Heavens, no.  Certain items require more frequent dry cleaning: silk blouses, white pieces that show every mark, summer dresses that are against your body in warm weather….those items I will dry clean every few wears, more if necessary.  Blazers, dark skirts, those can be cleaned once per season.  In the winter, I dry clean wool items, cashmere sweaters and a winter white coat – as needed…
  • How do you store your furs?   We happen to have a cedar closet in our basement, so that’s where they go for the summer…Ginger always had her furs stored professionally, at a furrier, probably for $200/300 per season…..while I realize a fur will ‘dry out’ and loose its luster if not stored in proper conditions, I am not so worried about it – by the time my furs ‘dry out’, I will too! Haha…
  • Do you dry anything in the dryer?  Yes, but very selectively. Primarily casual wear such as tee shirts, cotton blouses, gym clothes, cotton or denim jackets…for most other items that are more delicate (linen shirts, lingerie, tights) I use a clothes horse to dry…Ginger did a lot of hand washing which I have no time for.  Instead, all delicates go into a mesh lingerie bag and into the washing machine – but never in the dryer – either hang on the clothes horse or lay flat on a towel to dry.

    Clothes horse - has been used in my family for YEARS!
    Clothes horse – has been used in my family for YEARS!

Having a good iron and ironing board handy is important to keeping clothes looking crisp in between washings….and I always use Niagra Spray Starch on cotton blouses…

As for moth balls, that’s one product I no longer use, despite the Ginger lesson…just too stinky for me!

One simple tip that goes a long way in caring for your clothes is to fold items neatly in drawers and hang items on padded and/or wooden hangers. No wire hangers! Believe it or not, it makes a big difference in how your clothes look.

How about all those care labels!  When something is brand new I will carefully follow instructions; as an item gets older I may try washing on delicate in the machine, then hang or lay flat to dry.

What about you?  Do you strictly follow care instructions?  Any tips from your mother?



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  • Well, this is interesting. I never knew THAT was a “clothes horse”, though I’ve heard the term a zillion times! The problem with care labels is so many are just wrong, so you have to rely on your own judgement. Hangers: I use the clear plastic kind, with a foam cover where it’s needed. Knits are often better folded to prevent stretching. Wearing dress shields to guard against perspiration stains is a good idea for items that could be ruined, especially leather or suede tops. Mesh bags and turning inside out before laundering are both advisable for a lot of garments. And don’t let anything stay in the dryer until it’s bone dry, except maybe jeans. Even some delicates such as silk blouses can go in the dryer for a few minutes to shake out the wrinkles, then immediately hang or lay flat to dry.

  • This is an excellent PSA..I too take care in how I wash my clothes…and how I hang them..I dry clean and have the dry cleaner store things til I pick them up in September.

  • always good to read labels, however i usually use my judgment and wash on
    the gentle cycle in mesh bag if its a small item, or just loose in washer…… dryer for a very brief few minutes…. then hang to dry…padded hanger always or plastic coated….. dry cleaning is over rated for many things… I wash almost every thing…hang to dry or throw into dryer w/ a damp cloth for a few minutes…get wrinkles out


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