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Taking Care of Delicate and Expensive Clothing

Taking Care of Delicate and Expensive Clothing

Even expensive, high-quality, designer clothing will fall apart if neglected or abused. Our society has gotten so accustomed to clothing being cheap and disposable that the idea of caring for our clothing is a foreign concept to many of us. The fact is that well-made, quality garments can last decades. Not only will your delicate and expensive clothes last longer when cared for properly, but well-maintained clothing looks better, too. Which means that investing in tasteful, classic styles will pay off in the long run.

No matter how clean you keep your clothing, an entire wardrobe full of designer tags can become ruined by a few moths or moisture issues in your closet or storage area. Protecting your clothing will cost much less than being forced to buy replacements every few years. Just like servicing your vehicle or nurturing a relationship, proper wardrobe maintenance requires time, dedication and discipline. Here are the top 5 clothing care tips to keep your delicate and expensive garments wearable for years.


  • Invest in a stiff brush specifically manufactured to clean clothing. It only takes 30 seconds of brushing to clean your suits, jackets, blazers and trousers after each wearing. Brush the garment against the nap (grain) first, and then with the nap to remove any dust, dirt or other materials before they get a chance to settle into the fabric fibers, causing permanent discoloration or attracting insects. One of the perks of daily maintenance is that it will extend the time between your dry cleaning visits.
  • Hang your clothing up immediately after changing. Clothing that's allowed to lay bunched up can become soiled or wrinkled, or lose its shape.


  • Steaming with a professional steam machine is the best way to quickly remove wrinkles from delicate fabrics. Hold the steamer away from the fabric and allow the steam to remove wrinkles, not the wand itself. Avoid steaming or ironing structured wool clothing to avoid distorting the shape – have those items professionally cleaned.
  • Save ironing for cotton garments only. Iron damp cotton items with a clean iron on the lowest heat setting appropriate, as high heat can cause damage. If you use starch and hand-wash, periodically take the garment to a professional dry cleaner to remove any lingering residue buildup.
  • Use gentle steam on clothing with beads, sequins or embroidery. If the fabric puckers, stop steaming and take the item to your dry cleaner.


  • Your expensive wardrobe needs storage in a clean, cool, dry, dark environment in order to protect it from UV damage, color fading, discourage insect infestation and retard bacterial growth.
  • If a garment is going to be hung for more than a month between wearing, place it in a breathable protective garment bag to prevent dust from accumulating.
  • Invest in quality wood or acrylic hangers. Wire hangers can cause damage to your clothes, especially silk or wool, as they can create permanent creasing.
  • Have silk and wool garments professionally cleaned before storing to ensure any damage-causing insect eggs become destroyed. Alternately, place garments in a vacuum-sealed storage bag and place in the freezer for 72 hours.
  • Avoid the use of chemical moth balls, as they create toxic fumes from para-dichlorobenzene and leave clothes smelling bad. Instead, rely on natural alternatives such as cedar blocks, or sachets of rosemary, cloves, lavender or other aromatic insect repellents.


  • Spot-clean any light stains as they occur to avoid letting them set. Simply dab the stain with a clean white towel and distilled or mineral water. If the stain is stubborn take the garment in for cleaning at your dry cleaners as soon as possible.
  • Just because a garment label states that it can be machine-washed doesn’t mean it should be. Generally speaking, delicate fabrics become beaten up in the washing machine and the extreme heat of your dryer causes damage as well. Simply wash small, lightweight garments in a sink filled with cool water and a gentle detergent. Pre-treat any stains and then let the item soak for a few minutes. Swish the garment gently, then rinse in cool, clear water. Carefully wring the garment and lay out on a drying rack.


  • If you notice any tiny holes, take your garment to a professional tailor to see about having them repaired by re-weaving. Fixing them immediately will prevent them from turning into large holes.
  • You should take garments that have become snug in the fit to a professional seamstress or tailor to determine if it can be let out. Wearing tight clothing places stress on the seams and predisposes them to ripping and tearing, especially at the underarm, hip and crotch areas.

If you are uneasy about cleaning your expensive and delicate clothing at home, or the item features embellishments like embroidery, beading, fabric-covered buttons, or have pressed pleats, the smartest choice is to have them cleaned by a professional dry cleaner.


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