Go with the Tide
How to clean fall's toughest fabrics
If you’ve never heard Jerry Seinfeld’s stand-up routine on dry cleaning, we highly recommend it. (“Dry? What is dry? You can’t clean something dry.”) We also highly recommend taking a peek at our list on how to properly clean all of fall’s toughest fabrics. You’ve gotta stop taking cashmere to the cleaners.
Contrary to what you might assume (or read on the label), cashmere should not go to the dry cleaner. You run the risk of the garment shrinking five sizes too small, not to mention that it will actually become softer over time if you wash it by hand. Use a mild detergent like Woolite or The Laundress, press out excess water--do not wring--and lay flat to dry. The only downside is that the process can take...forever. If you must speed things up, cashmere expert Margaret O’Leary says a short (we mean five-minutes short) stint in the dryer is acceptable. Just make sure it's on low spin.
Off to the cleaners you go. We learned this one the hard way. So long, pleated chiffon frock--we’re sorry we tried to clean you ourselves. Knife-sharp pleats are nearly impossible to re-create, so trust us and take this one to a professional.
First things first: Protect your leather with a water-repellent spray before you wear it. Then, for any rogue stains, spot-clean only. Here’s how to do it: Apply some pressure with a cloth or paper towel as soon as possible to absorb any liquid, but whatever you do, don’t rub! For dry stains, try using one part lemon juice (fresh or from a bottle) to one part cream of tartar. Create a paste and work it into the stain. If the blemish won’t budge, take the garment to a specialist. Ask around for recommendations--you want to make sure the pro is really good.
Surprise: You can clean your silk at home! Hand wash in cold water with gentle hand soap, then squeeze or dab with a towel and hang to dry. Warning: Don’t twist or wring--doing so will break the delicate silk fibers. Also, never iron your silk. Use a steamer instead for the best results.
A suede brush will soon be your new best friend. Suede is quite possibly the most fickle of your go-to fall fabrics and should be treated with care prior to wearing. Take your item (especially shoes) to be waterproofed by a cobbler or leather specialist (see above). Then, when dirt or marks appear, simply brush them out. Whatever you do, don’t use water. It will leave a mark.
OK, we know what you’re going to say, but honestly, you should rethink how often you wash your jeans. If you treat your denim right, it will last forever (just speak to anyone with an original pair of Levi’s 501). Instead of tossing your jeans into the wash every week, consider spot-treating stains with a touch of detergent and a toothbrush. Can’t stomach it? Turn them inside out to protect the rinse...or you could always freeze ’em.