An outfit can be timeless. Elegant, sophisticated, a perfect fit. Regardless of its complexity—a three-piece suit or just a T-shirt and jeans—it makes a man feel comfortable and, most importantly, confident. Tragically, some of these outfits become victims of vicious washing machines, hellfire dryers and die slow, painful deaths.
Although you might not like taking time to consider what seems like minutiae when it comes to clothing care, the extra minutes you spend soaking, rolling and folding add up to, possibly, years of functional life for that perfect ensemble. Here are four suggestions for making your favorite clothes last longer.
Hold off on the dry cleaning. Even if an article of clothing is dry clean only, don’t bring it to the cleaners as often as you wash other garments. The consensus varies as to how many times an article should be dry cleaned, but there is a consensus about dry cleaning in general: the chemicals and heat used will eat away at the fabric if done too frequently. For a full suit, keep dry cleaning to less than once a month. Spot treatments and pressings are fine. Drowning your delicate’s in perchloroethylene isn’t.
Temperatures matter. The adage about sorting your laundry is true. While throwing everything together in the washing machine with warm water may save time, it can be destructive. Hot water will keep whites looking bright, but will lift the color from other clothes. Don’t be afraid to use some bleach with white dress shirts—especially if there’s a ring inside the collar. Cold water with a detergent (used specifically for darks) will keep the black black as well. And if you’re especially worried about dark clothes or a graphic fading, turn it inside out before you toss it into the washer.
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Use some elbow grease. Every guy has a favorite sweater. Make sure you show it affection by loving and caring for it just as you would a small woolen child. Wash it in cold or warm water by hand if you don’t want to take any risks. And stay far, far away from drying sweaters with heat—unless you’re looking for a cashmere muscle shirt. Let them air dry and fold them when storing, as hangers can disfigure them. That being said, when packing them away during the warm months, keep them folded—not hung—and clean, or you may have a sweater that’s malformed and perforated by moths.
Better sooner than later. Stains are usually best treated as fast as possible. Even blood can be washed out of fabric if it’s treated immediately. Although you might be able to get out stains later with an overnight soak or with a detergent “pen” don’t count on it. If a stain survives the washing machine, it might actually be pressed into the fabric in the dryer if it’s heated enough. And then you’ll have an annoying, potentially eye-catching stain right on the chest of your favorite shirt that will never go away. Ever.
It puts the lotion on its skin. For those not looking to sport the aged bomber jacket look a la Eisenhower, a leather or suede coat is an investment both in money and care. It should be thought of as skin since, well, it is skin. Without moisture and oils, it can start to look worn and cracked just like skin. It also can start to stretch out, giving it a distended look. Wilson’s Leather carries affordable care products, and the website has all the tips you need to care for leather and suede. To care for leather pants, good news! It’s a simple process. Step one: discard. And that’s it!