Problem Plastic

The plastic cover dry-cleaned items come home in may seem like a convenient way to keep clothes fresh and dust-free, but plastic does more harm than good. "Long-term use of these plastic covers will suffocate the garment, possibly causing staining, mildew or other mishaps," Mary says. "Take them out of the bag and allow the clothes to breathe."

To store clothes between seasons, Joseph recommends using a cotton sheet instead of plastic.

Over Use of Dry Cleaning

A shirt with a worn-out, overly dry-cleaned look is usually the result of two problems, Joseph says. One, the dry cleaner isn't distilling his cleaning solvent regularly. "Rest assured, if you go somewhere that's charging $1.75, they can't afford to constantly distill solvent," he says.

The second culprit is likely overpressing, or what Joseph calls "the bang and hang." If a shirt is beginning to look overworked, Joseph says to ask for a soft press. At home, try ironing inside out with a cooler temperature.

Spray with Care

Many perfumes, hairsprays and lotions can ruin your clothes over time, Mary says.. "They either contain alcohol or an alkaline chemical composition that can cause some dyes to change colors," she says.

It may not look like your spritz of perfume did any harm, but the heat from a dryer or iron could eventually expose a nasty spot. To avoid this, Mary says to let all perfumes, hairsprays and lotions dry completely before getting dressed.

Next: Caring for darks, denims and delicates


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