How To

Taking Care of Your Clothes (So They Can Take Care of You)

This week’s Women’s Ivy column features my tried-and-true tips to keeping your clothes looking their best at any time, but especially when you pack them away for the season. This post was a great reminder for me–I am in the throes of storing my sweaters for the summer and want to make sure everything survives intact in the fall. You can read my post here or below–please be sure to share your tips in the comments section!

To me, one of the greatest appeals of traditional style is its timelessness. The building blocks of an Ivy wardrobe have their roots in the early to mid-twentieth century, but still look just as good today. This is great news for your wardrobe–you can invest in a few classic pieces and wear them for life. To make sure your clothes last a lifetime, they must be stored properly for the season. Here are a few tips for taking care of your clothes… and how to fix the damage if the worst happens.

Make Sure Everything is Clean Before You Pack Your Clothes

Stains, even small ones, can attract carpet beetles or moths. Make sure everything is clean before you pack–it will save a lot of heartache in the future.

Use Lots of Tissue Paper

This protective layer will help prevent your clothing from wrinkling while stored. Use tissue paper for everything: wrapping your clothes, lining your storage bins, and stuffing your shoes. Make sure the tissue paper is acid-free (available from archival preservation sites or at places like Joann Fabrics).

Do Not Pack Your Clothes in Cardboard Boxes!

Avoiding cardboard boxes is a good rule of thumb for any sort of preservation. For storage, I love Rubbermaid Roughneck containers.* These prevent anything from getting in–from water to insects to sunlight. Not only are they sturdier than cardboard boxes, storage containers also stack well and their contents can be accessed without cutting through layers of tape.

Store Sachets With Your Clothes

Lavender and cedar help prevent insects from damaging clothes. You can find a number of sachets available; I love the ones from D. Porthault (a nice hostess gift!) and Mrs. Meyers.*

When the Worst Happens: How to Fix It

Moth Holes

If a moth infestation wreaks havoc on your favorite sweaters, all is not lost! Sweaters and other wool clothing can be repaired by a skilled reweaver. If you are in the New York metro area, I highly recommend French-American Reweaving. They have done beautiful work on some of our most sentimental pieces; you can’t even see the repairs. Their contact information is here. A note: the process is expensive but well worth it for special pieces. The proprietor is truly gifted and–a rarity in the modern age–honest.

Musty Smells

There are many articles that suggest adding vinegar to your washing machine cycle will fix musty smells, but white vinegar can actually damage your washing machine. Try sprinkling your dry clothes with baking soda instead, leaving it overnight to absorb any odors. If this doesn’t work, wash your clothes normally, then air-dry outside. 

Stubborn Wrinkles

I am not a fan of ironing and far prefer steaming clothes (this* is the steamer I use and it’s great–I have one at home and one for my office). I find steaming, in conjunction with Downy Wrinkle Release spray,* gets rid of even the most stubborn wrinkles.

A friend recently recommended Nori,* a new steam iron, and I am intrigued. It looks too good to be true, but she insists it lives up to the hype! I’m eager to try it, and will report back.

How do you take care of your clothes? Do you have any tips I’ve missed? If so, please share in the comments below.

This article was written by me and originally published on Ivy Style as part of my Women’s Ivy column. I retain ownership of all text and images included in the original column.

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