TFM Fashion

How to Care for Clothes: Give Your Closet Some Love

Julia and Sonia are guest contributors from

Julia here.  A couple friends have come up to me recently asking how to care for certain types of clothes. Now that Sonia and I have been writing for Conquer the City for more than a month, my first thought is always, “Blog post!”  So here you go, inquisitive friends.

The biggest question I get from friends asking about clothes is how to care for their garments.  Most of your day to day cotton clothes can go straight into the wash.  Some things need a little extra care.

Take a peak at the label.  If it says “dry clean only” there’s likely a good reason.  Those garments usually have delicate fabrics or structure that will be compromised by a bath in your washing machine.  Unless you’re positive that you won’t mess up your clothes, send them to the cleaners.

“Dry clean” on a label gives you some wiggle room.  Sometimes manufacturers put this on a label to hedge their bets against careless people who don’t understand that “doing the laundry” doesn’t always mean high heat water and high heat drying.  If your dry clean garment is sturdy (woven cotton, most imitation silks like rayon), go ahead and wash it in cold water in your washing machine.  The difference is that when you pull that garment out do not throw it in the dryer.  These things are drip dry only.  You’ll extend the life of the fabric and lower the risk of ruining it with heat.

Handle with Care

Living in New York where laundry is prohibitively expensive and washing machines en suite are hard to come by is enough to make anyone an expert in hand washing.  If you have garments with delicate details, sweaters with open stitches that might snag or wool (yeah I said it, wool), you can save on your dry cleaning bill by washing them in your kitchen sink.

Gentlemen, you can skip this section because this is specifically for the ladies.  Ladies, raise your right hand and solemnly swear this:

I will not put my bras through the washing machine.  I will under NO circumstances but my bras through the dryer. 

Good.  Glad we have that out of the way.  Your dedicates are just that.  Delicate.  If you put a bra in with the rest of your stuff, you will dramatically cut it’s life.  Your elastic will bust, your underwires will poke through and you’ll generally look like a lumpy mess.  No one wants lumpy boobs.

This is how you should hand wash those undies and other kitchen sink specials:

– Fill a clean sink with room temperature water. Water should absolutely not be hot, especially if you’re dealing with wool

– Add half a cap of Woolite under the tap

– Kneed clothes with your hands for a few minutes. Let your garments soak in the soapy water if soiled

– Pull plug and let water drain. Then run your garments through room temperature water until it runs clear (not soapy)

– Drip dry or reform sweaters on a flat towel

– If your garments are waterlogged, roll them up in a towel and step on it. Your weight will squeeze the water out without compromising the fabric. Do not wring out any garment

Fix It

Your clothes are a reflection of you.  Ripped and tattered clothing doesn’t project the image most of us want out there.  If you drop a hem, lose a button or rip a seam your garment needs to be fixed.   You can do it yourself if you’re remotely handy with a needle (expect a whole different article on mending soon) or you can pay someone to fix it for you.  All dry cleaners should be able to make tiny fixes.  For anything more dramatic or for full alterations see a tailor.

Time to Throw It Out

Sadly, sometimes a garment is just too worn to save.  Here are some things to toss:

– Cotton that’s been washed one time too many (we all have those t-shirts)

– Holes that aren’t on a seam and can’t be easily woven by a tailor

– Jeans worn through on the inner thigh. Sometimes it’s worth getting jeans patched, but if the entire area is threadbare it’s tire to retire those jeans

– Underwear that’s lost its elastic (it isn’t sexy, ladies and gentlemen)

– Shrunken wool that accidentally went through the wash. There’s no saving that sweater

– Anything stained to the point of no return. If you treat a stain quickly enough, you may have some luck, but if it’s not coming out into the trash it goes

– White t-shirs with yellowed underarms. Sweat is incredibly hard to remove from a white shirt. If you wear a lot of white, reconcile yourself to re-buying t-shirs every season

– Stockings with runs. Unless you’re in a punk band, it isn’t cute.

Thanks to the ladies at Conquer the City for sharing these amazing tips! Your clothes help you look amazing, so stop being so abusive to them! Taking better care of your clothes will make them last longer, plus ensure that you never look like a crazy bag lady. Not a good look.



  1. Pingback: 10 Ways To Save Money on Clothes | The Frugal Model

  2. Hello!
    Question, has anyone had any success with at-home drycleaning kits? I have some items that I have to dryclean but would rather do so on a budget. How do these compare to washing in the sink?


    • Hey Lindsey – I’ve never tried those before! I’ve been tempted but always scared to ruin my things if I mess it up!

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