How to care for winter clothes and fabrics

Author: Canadian Living


How to care for winter clothes and fabrics

When caring for your winter wardrobe you need to be just as careful you are with your summer delicates. Brian Chelsky, president of Careful Hand Laundry & Drycleaners in Toronto, says the most important thing to do before cleaning your winter clothes is to look at the label, which many people tend to ignore.

"The manufacturer is telling you the best way to service the article –- you should follow those instructions," he says. Chelsky offers a quick primer for cleaning your winter wardrobe:

Wool and cashmere
"Ninety per cent of wool sweaters should be dry cleaned," says Chelsky. He points out that in many sweaters, wool fibres will swell if washed in water, which can distort the shape of the sweater.

But if the care label says you can wash your wool or cashmere garment, follow these home-care tips:

• Use a very mild, neutral detergent and make sure it is thoroughly dissolved in cold water.
• Gently swish the sweater around in the water for several minutes, then rinse under cold water until the water runs clear of soap.
• Never wring out the sweater with your hands or put it on the spin cycle in your washing machine.
• Instead, lay the sweater out on a white towel and gently blot the excess water away. Leave the sweater on the towel on a flat surface and let it dry in a well-ventilated area.
• If the sweater is wrinkled after hand-washing, you can use an iron for pressing. In the case of cashmere sweaters, place a clean, undyed towel between the sweater and iron to prevent the heat from harming the garment.

The frequency with which you clean your winter coat depends on your daily environment. If you work in a busy city area, consider cleaning your coat once a month. "Dust and dirt particles can get into the weave of the coat and will wear the fabric down like sandpaper," Chelsky says. Otherwise, Chelsky suggests cleaning your coat twice a season –- once at the beginning and once at the end of winter.

Although many people don't consider cleaning their winter scarves more than once a season, Chelsky says this garment is continually exposed to perspiration or makeup. "Anything closer to the body needs to be cleaned more," he says. Consider hand-washing your wool scarf once a month to keep it in tip-top shape. Or bring your scarf to a dry cleaner if it is made out of more delicate material.

Gloves and mittens
Leather gloves are more durable than fabric gloves and can usually be wiped clean with a damp cloth when dirty. But Chelsky also recommends bringing your leather gloves into a dry cleaner for a cleaning once a season to eliminate stains and dirt. Fabric gloves, like Thinsulate, can be washed but the process tends to distort the shape.

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How to care for winter clothes and fabrics