Do you know about these simple household tips?

Static Electricity, which worsens in the winter, can be improved:

  • By misting the “electrified” fabric with a bit of water
  • By wetting your hands and lightly wiping the affected areas
  • By applying a light mist of anti-static spray

Diluted vinegar is an acid-based cleaner that can do good and bad things:

  • White vinegar can clean and disinfect bathroom fixtures and trims
  • It can help “neutralize” alkaline products such as ammonia and mild bleaches
  • Vinegar can also actually “etch” or “dull” polished limestone and travertine

In a pinch, household fabrics with sheen or a shine can be safely pressed:

  • By using a fabric steamer
  • By placing a teflon cover over the face of your iron
  • By placing a press cloth or a thin fabric between the iron and the garment

Rust marks on cement, shower curtains and metal objects can be removed:

  • By applying a product called “Magica” to the affected area
  • By being patient and allowing Magica to “seep” into the affected area
  • By using a toothbrush to remove heavier rust deposits

Buying a stylish, but functional winter coat: Tips to remember

Shearling can be fake or real. While both are warm, investment-category real shearling, with lamb- or poodle-looking fur, is wind and water-resistant.

Cons of real shearling:

  • Can stain and soil easily —  inspect after each wearing
  • Must be cleaned each season by a specialist
  • Should be stored in a cool, breathable environment

Down is, ounce for ounce, the warmest and lightest material. It is also the most compressible — and one of the most durable.

Cons:

  • It’s more expensive than poly-fill
  • It’s complicated to clean and very slow to dry
  • May trigger allergies: down is not entirely hypoallergenic.

Poly-fill and “puffer” coats are easy to care for, hypoallergenic and offer a wide range of options.

Cons:

  • Can be bulky to wear, won’t compact like down
  • Heavier than down
  • Breaks down over time

Wool and cashmere can be very warm, especially if lined. Both can be treated to be water-resistant — and provide a good barrier to cold and wind — but performance is specific to each coat. Cashmere is typically lighter and offers more mobility than basic wool.

Cons:

  • Wool can be heavy and bulky to wear and store
  • Can take on an odor when wet
  • May be a problem for sensitive or allergic people

Fashion first aid.

Fashion first aid kit. Emergencies happen, and quick fixes can save the day (or night). Double stick tape removes lint, fixes falling hemlines. Use a black Sharpie on a scuffed heel. Use a piece of hangar foam to remove deodorant or makeup stains from fabric. Keep a coffee filter in your makeup bag to blot a shiny nose or brow. Chapstick can hold flyaway hair. And keep our phone number handy for tailoring, cleaning and pressing.

Springtime is fresh and sweet, so should your clothing be

Successful removal of odors depends on the source of the odor and the type of fabric, but the process can be a bit complex. Perspiration; mildew; smoke from tobacco or fire; urine; metallic or oily … there’s a process for each.

Not all odors can be removed, so the question is, if you can’t remove the odor do you disguise it with another product and a different odor?

For washable items:

  • Soak the garment in detergent and/or color-safe bleach
  • Add a few ounces of white vinegar to the mix
  • Baking soda mixed with water can help neutralize odors (like in the fridge)
  • Use a detergent for drip-dry sports gear that might help with body odor
  • Mildew is a water-based odor that usually requires chlorine bleach, so be careful with colors

Dryclean-only items:

  • You are somewhat limited with these fabrics because most odors are water-based, hence they may not “rinse-out” during drycleaning
  • However, oily resins, which can be present in some odors, are often removed during the cleaning process, so it’s worth talking to your drycleaner.
  • Point out odors, and do not be embarrassed!

If you have a very bad odor, that cannot be removed at home, ask your drycleaner about ozone. Some cleaners use this process for animal and smoke odors.

Household checklist

Spring cleaning is especially rewarding this year after we’ve spent so much time indoors.

Carpet

Inspect carpets for smudges and stains. Small spots can usually be removed with a dab of a carpet cleaner (on a toothbrush or Q-tip). Be sure to “flush” the area with fresh water, and then blot dry with a clean towel.

Throw Rugs

Much the same as for carpets. Depending on size and weight, you may be able to shake out the dust and give it a good vacuuming. If it’s too large to handle, and you don’t want to “shampoo” it at home, then call us for assistance.

Tapestries and wall hangings

These items can accumulate just as much dust and debris as bedding and throw pillows. Be sure to “shake and dust” these items twice a year. We can clean and professionally finish them.

The rule says never rub stains, but why?

The deeper the color the more likely you could “rub out” the dye. You take the chance of breaking fibers and “roughing up” the surface each time you rub a stain. If you break the fibers you create an obvious dull or light spot that may be permanent.  Your drycleaner may be able to improve the problem, but in most cases, it will only be a temporary fix. Remember: Always blot stains with a dry white cloth — never rub.

Six Rules to Live By: Assess and Ask before Doing Anything!

  • Oily stains are usually “blotchy,” with no outline around the perimeter
  • Never put water or water-based stain removers on an oily stain
  • Oily stains usually require drycleaning
  • Bleach does not remove oily stains — new or old
  • Point out all food stains and perspiration stains to your drycleaner
  • Clean or wash all clothing before storing, and do not store in plastic

Flag care

I’m going to bet that a number of you hung American Flags this past weekend.

Washing Your Flag

Like most clothing, and items made of fabric, regular washings will prolong the life of your flag. Most outdoor flags are now made of polyester or nylon, meaning they are more durable than cotton and can be washed by hand (in the bathtub) or by machine, in warm water. They can be soaked and pre-treated, if needed. Older flags, which were typically made from cotton, are more prone fading, degradation, tears and stains; specifically mildew and rust.

Older flags should never be bleached, or come in direct contact with chlorine bleach, unless it’s diluted. Unfortunately, mildew usually requires chlorine bleach to remove such stains and discolorations. Rust is an easy fix with the right chemical. It’s best to let flags air dry, regardless of the fabric content.

Drycleaning Your Flag 

I wouldn’t want to speak out of turn, but our cleaners routinely offered free cleaning for flags, from Memorial Day through the Fourth of July, charging only for repairs. Very large flags can occupy the whole wheel of the machine!

Brief History of the Flag

Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag in May of 1776 in her house on Arch Street in Philadelphia. By the way, you can see Betsy’s house, and “her flag” in Old City Philly, just blocks from the Delaware River—along with a slew of other historic buildings, museums and monuments. Visit in cooler weather!

—The Clothing Doctor

Spring wardrobe buying tips

It’s spring, and stores are flinging open their doors, so start your engines.

Get what you need for summer now, but control your spending by asking yourself:

  • Do I love this piece enough for it to be a favorite in my closet?
  • Will I remove an old piece, in trade for the something new?
  • Am I thinking basic replacement, or something trendy?

  • Do I need staples or accessories?

  • Can I rejuvenate my current pieces with jewelry, belt, scarf or shoes?

Take an hour, just you and your closet (and maybe your daughter) to survey your wardrobe. Try on, discard or donate pieces that you didn’t wear last spring or summer. And don’t forget the shoes, handbags, belts and scarves!

The Latest in Halloween Stain Removal

I did an interview with Martha Stewart Radio last week about Halloween stains…

Stain removal is all about the variables: the type of stain; the color of stain; the fabric–and the costume embellishments. And you have to think “outside the box” when it’s time to pre-treat, wash or dryclean these items!

Face Paint, Lipstick, Hair Dye removal = Pretreatment & patience!

  • All of these stains will need pretreatment, detergent, water … and time: Time for the stain remover to do its intended job–which is to dissolve the stain. If it’s working after 5 minutes, then apply another few drops.
  • Face paint, lipstick and hair dye, wash off the face with soap and water. But clothing–depending on the color and fabric–may need a soak in color-safe bleach, after pretreatment and washing. Some face paint and lipstick will need drycleaning, so consult your fabricare guru for first-hand advice.

Embellishments

Some sequins, pearls and glitter are attached with wax and glue, so you may have to “un-stitch” some ornamental parts before pretreatment because the wax and glues can dissolve in washing or drycleaning.

Glow-Sticks and Stain Removal

  • Most glow sticks contain peroxide (a mild bleach), fluorescent dyes, and glass shards. The peroxide can “bleach” fabrics, but I would worry more about the fluorescent colors!
  • If the stick breaks and leaks the inner fluid on to clothing, the fabric will need to be pretreated and then soaked, possibly all night. The colors are water-soluble, so they should come out. If they do improve, but are not removed, then try a soak in color-safe bleach. Use gloves to keep the glass shards from contacting your hands.
  • Then rinse and wash, as usual!