Ask the Edit: How to Keep Your Clothes Looking New

Jan 3, 2018

If you’re spending your hard earned money on your wardrobe, you want to keep it in good shape.  Here are some tips on how to skip the dry cleaners, protect your shoes, and make your clothes last longer.

Hi Belle,

In the winter, I almost exclusively wear tights and ankle boots but find my feet get cold and damp. Any suggestions on insoles that will keep my feet warm and dry? While we’re on the subject of winter shoes, any tips on preventing salt from destroying shoes/boots other than wiping them down regularly with a water/vinegar mix?

Thanks, Amy

Let me take your second question first.  I use these Jason Markk boot wipes to get the salt off my boots and keep them looking their best.  This Esquire article recommends this Aquaseal waterproofing cream is a pre-treatment to keep your leather in shape.

I asked around about insoles, and these Little Hotties came up a few times.  If you’re hunting for insoles, I would try a store like REI or another outdoor retailer.  They’ll likely have something.

Belle,

I can’t afford my dry cleaning bill anymore.  Having a real job and real professional clothes is draining $75 to $125 from my wallet every two weeks.  I can’t keep up anymore.  Do you know any way to extend the time between dry cleanings or products to skip them entirely?

Anna

Dry cleaning is a terrible expense.  They advertise several at-home dry cleaning products, but I’ve never found one that works.  One of my former bosses had a Swash dry cleaning machine in his home.  They run $499, so if you’re in a professional field, the cost might even out over time.

To lengthen the time between trips to the cleaners, there are several things you can do.  First, you need a steamer.  Not an iron, a steamer.  Nearly every blogger I know owns this Rowenta.  It’s small but powerful.

Second, you need to keep your clothes stain free.  Keep a Tide pen in your desk and purse to clean up stains.  I also recommend this Fels Naptha bar for anything that can be laundered.

Third, many “dry clean only” clothes can actually be washed at home if you know how.  This article gives you some good tips on doing your own washing.

Fourth, stop buying dry clean only clothes.  MM. LaFleur sells a lot of machine washable work clothes.  Ann Taylor is also making machine washable clothing, like this simple black dress.  Even Banana Republic is getting into the game with machine washable sweaters.

Hi Abra,

How do you wash your lingerie and delicates?  I hate the idea of hand washing them for so many reasons.  Do I really have to?

Grace

I don’t hand wash my lingerie.  Too much work.  This is why God invented mesh washing bags and gentle soap.  Just use your washing machines delicate cycle and skip the dryer.  I keep a drying rack in my hall closet for just this purpose.

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  1. MH says:

    Re warm shoes/booties- I’ve been really happy with Blondo waterproof booties. I got a pair in grey and they don’t show the salt. They have kept my feet dry and fairly warm.

    Re dry cleaning – I’ve had luck freezing my dry clean only clothing when they have a bit of a funk but don’t need a full cleaning. I freeze them the same as I do my jeans – fold and put in ziplock bag, pop in freezer for 20+ min. Steam out any wrinkles.

  2. Coco says:

    Re dry cleaning, if you just need to deodorize (not treat a stain) you can also spray the area with vodka. Pour the vodka in a spray bottle, spray, and let dry. It dries odorless so you don’t walk around smelling like a boozer. The Costco vodka has worked well for me (though I’ve never tried it on silk). It helps freshen up blouses and blazers between cleanings.

    • lexi says:

      2nd the vodka solution. It’s actually 1/3 vodka and 2/3 distilled water, although I’ve seen different ratios. The idea is that it kills bacteria that ruin your clothes and make them smell between washes.

      It’s an old theatre trick. I use it to extend the life of my clothes, especially on hard to wash items or items you don’t want to ruin by dry cleaning all the time.

  3. Amanda says:

    Re: warm booties — I love smartwool’s invisible wool socks. They’re not at all invisible under my ankle boots, add warmth, and keep my feet from sliding around in tights.

  4. Jo says:

    Some other tips I picked up to same some trips to the drycleaner- wear shirts with sleeves under blazers. Wear slips with unlined dresses and skirts. Change out of dry clean only clothes as soon as possible. During warmer months when I lived in DC, I would leave my blazers at the office instead of folding them up or carrying them home.

  5. Alli says:

    Related by different question. I have some machine washable blouses that end up with deodorant stains; not white marks, but what looks like an oil stain. Sometimes these come out in the wash, but other times they stubbornly persist. Is there a trick to removing those without resorting to the pros?

    • Kate says:

      I’ve found that socks actually remove those deodorant stains! Just rub a sock over the stain and it should come out.

  6. Sof says:

    Not only does BR sell washable sweaters, but they’ve also got machine wash blazers! (And so does Express.) They’re not knit blazers, and the one I bought this fall is holding up great.

  7. SLG says:

    A few years ago I gave up drycleaning almost entirely, and I haven’t looked back. Here’s what’s worked for me:

    – buy only clothes that can be machine- or hand-washed — Boden is also a good source for this
    – wear long-sleeved t-shirts under my wool sweaters to protect them — J Crew Factory’s tissue tees work well
    – the vodka trick Coco and Lexi mentioned — thanks, Belle, for turning us on to that years ago
    – learn how to hand wash silk and wool dresses/tops — submerge in cold water with a detergent that fits what you’re washing (The Laundress has some good ones), submerge in fresh water to rinse, run through your washing machine’s spin cycle (JUST the spin cycle), and lay over a pillow / my couch to dry

    I hardly ever go to the drycleaner’s anymore and I feel like I’ve added years to my life from all the saved time, not to mention money.

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