4 Fashion Must Haves—and How to Care for Them

Leather. On photo shoots, accidents happen—say, a messy model spills mustard on her leather jacket or pants at lunch—and reacting quickly is crucial.

Plan of Action: Resist the urge to scrub a stain on a leather garment with soap right off the bat. Instead, gently scrape off any dried food with the flat edge of a plastic knife or a credit card, then blot the stain with a damp cloth. If the stain persists, dilute a few drops of a liquid laundry detergent in water and dab the spill. Allow to air dry, then repeat if necessary.

Metallic Sweaters. After a long day of shooting under hot lights, many of the garments used during a photo shoot need laundering—and some, like fancier washable sweaters, need special care.

Plan of Action: Don’t toss the sweater in with a regular load of laundry. Turn it inside out to ensure that metallic threads or embellishments don’t get snagged on other garments, then place it in a mesh laundry bag. Wash the garment on a gentle cycle, according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Embellished Tops. When there’s no time to dry clean a bejeweled top before a photo shoot or big event, consider washing it yourself—just check the care label first.

Plan of Action: Turn the top inside out and place it in a mesh laundry wash bag. Wash it on a gentle cycle, according to manufacturer’s instructions, with a liquid laundry detergent. Skip the dryer and hang the garment on a padded hanger, smoothing out any creases, then allow it to air dry. Ironing can damage any beadwork or fancy embellishment; instead, use a steamer to release any wrinkles.

Waxed Jeans. These fashionable coated jeans are one of the hottest looks in denim, but they require some TLC when it comes to laundering.

Plan of action: First off, read the manufacturer’s label. If machine washing is recommended, turn the jeans inside out and wash them with a liquid laundry detergent, on a cold delicate setting. Avoid machine-drying coated jeans. Instead, lay the jeans flat, making sure not to crease the fabric, and allow them to air dry.

College Laundry 101: Understanding the Basics

College can be full of challenges, but locating a pair of clean jeans in time for your 8 a.m. chemistry class shouldn’t be one of them. All it takes is a few tricks and some planning for any busy co-ed to become a laundry pro in no time.

Add laundry to your routine.  Put laundry on your weekly to-do list and the chore will seem like less of an insurmountable task. Aim to hit the laundry room once a week, and try to go during off-peak hours (Wednesday nights are traditionally the slowest time), when you are less likely to have to jockey for a machine. Also check to see if your school is one of the many colleges that can now send online alerts to your smartphone or computer when washers and dryers are available.

Sort baby, sort. To make sure laundry comes out clean and bright, always separate darks and whites. Spot-treat stains, especially if you’re not able to do laundry for a few days. And remember to stock up on a great smelling liquid laundry detergent.

Create a “wash it” schedule. Socks, underwear, sportswear, T-shirts, and lightweight cotton garments should be washed after each use. Heavy-duty items like jeans, hoodies, sweatshirts, and corduroys can withstand several wears without washing, but don’t go longer than three to four weeks. Worried about fading your favorite dark jeans? If you turn them inside out, wash in cold water, and take them out of the dryer while they’re slightly damp, your denim should come out looking like new.

Get towels and sheets under control. Don’t be fooled by sheets and pillowcases that “look clean”: Linens accumulate dirt, sweat, dust, and more as you snooze, so toss ’em in the washer every two weeks with a liquid laundry detergent (for best results, use the hottest water recommended for the fabric based on the garment care label). To prevent any musty odors, make sure towels dry completely before folding. And always air-dry damp ones on a hook after showering.

And don’t forget. Items like comforters, blankets, and bedspreads—all magnets for dust, dirt, and grime—should be washed at least once a semester. Machine-washable jackets and down puffers need laundering, too (every 12 weeks is fine if the garments aren’t soiled). Wash them in cold water and dry on low heat. To keep that clean-laundry smell around for longer, use an in-wash scent booster.

5 Myths About Caring for Denim

Like a best friend, a well-fitting pair of jeans should be treasured—if you’re lucky enough to find them. But while there are lots of myths about how to prolong the life of denim, not all of the advice will actually add extra wear to your favorite pair. Here, we share the real deal on caring for denim.


Myth 1: Freezing jeans can rid them of bacteria.

False. While some germs die off in the freezer, the hardier ones live on. And since most of the germs on your jeans come from you, once your body temperature warms the fabric, the germs come back just like before.


Myth 2: If you must wash your jeans, do so sparingly.

True. Washing your jeans rarely can help preserve their shape. This is especially true of denim that hasn’t been prewashed, which takes longer to mold to your body’s contours. When it comes time for laundering, always wash jeans inside-out in cold water—to preserve their color—with a specially formulated cold-water detergent. Lay them flat on a towel to dry.


Myth 3: Never put your jeans in the dryer.

False. If your jeans are stretched out, a quick tumble in the dryer can help them regain their shape. Follow the care label and remove the jeans when they are slightly damp to prevent unwanted creasing.


Myth 4: Wearing your jeans in the bathtub can ensure a perfect fit.

False. In general, wearing jeans in the tub and then keeping them on until they’re dry is a waste of time. There is one major brand, however, that makes a jean specifically designed to shrink to fit the wearer’s body. The manufacturer recommends soaking the jeans in the bathtub and then putting them on when slightly damp so that they dry on your body and retain your shape.


Myth 5: The more stretch, the better.

Maybe. It really depends on your body type and how “clingy” you want your denim to be. Look for jeans with a low Spandex-to-cotton ratio (2% to 5% Spandex to 98% to 95% cotton), which will give you a look that hugs your shape without making you feel like a sausage.



Tough-but-True Laundry Tactics

It doesn’t matter where you live on the planet, chances are you do laundry. And most of the world’s population tackles the chore by hand. If you’re among the fortunate few who can simply toss a load into a washer, count yourself lucky. For a lot of people, wearing a clean T-shirt takes a bit more work.

For backpackers who hit the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Coast Trail, or more exotic peaks like Mount Everest or Kilimanjaro, popping a load into a washing machine isn’t an option. When possible, they usually just give their clothes a quick rinse in a cold stream and then hang them in the sun to dry; other times, they just keep on trekking.

Hotel- or hostel-hoppers have it a little easier, since most rooms have a sink and running water. The washing is easy enough (especially if you brought along travel detergent), but drying can get tricky. Many hotels discourage guests from doing laundry in their rooms, so hanging a clothesline can draw unwanted attention from the staff. Instead, savvy travelers will wring out wet garments, then press them between layers of a microfiber towel to absorb extra water and speed drying.

In other parts of the world, laundry day takes many guises. In Varanasi, India, it’s common to see men and women beating their clothes clean on rocks along the Ganges, and in Africa, where water is scarce, dirty gear gets scrubbed clean in plastic bowls. In Brazil, most people either hand wash their entire wardrobe or use a tanquinho, a semi-automatic washer that whips clothes around as if in a blender, working up a thick lather. Unlike machines we use in the U.S., though, the tanquinho has no rinse cycle. Once sudsy, clothing must be removed from the drum and rinsed by hand.

And sailors on long journeys usually wait until they hit port before tending to smelly garments. They all know washing clothes in saltwater results in stiff-as-cardboard shirts and pants that can be rough and itchy when worn.

As for those astronauts aboard the International Space Station? They take the same approach as many college freshmen: They wear their clothing as long as they can bear it, then pack up their dirty laundry and bring it home with them. (Hopefully, they don’t make their moms do the washing!)

If you’ll be traveling to a locale where you suspect that washing machines are in short supply, do yourself a favor: Pack a to-go stain remover. That way you can tackle any noticeable spills and smudges—and mask the fact that you’re wearing not-so-fresh clothes.

Caring for Baseball Caps

Whether it’s a Little League topper or your cherished Cubbies cap, baseball hats are notorious collectors of summertime sweat, dirt, and grime. Don’t worry—we’ve got the clean-up bases covered. Try these techniques to keep your team lids and stadium souvenirs in top condition.

Assess the fabric. Today’s baseball hats are typically made out of sturdy, colorfast fabrics like cotton twill, a cotton-polyester blend, or a jersey mesh—all of which are safe to wash by machine or hand. (It’s even okay to throw them in a load of clothes with similar colors.) Wool baseball caps should be hand-washed, since the fabric fibers could take a beating inside a washer’s drum. Look for a manufacturer’s label on the hat’s interior for specific instructions.

Size up the brim. Newer hats may come with a plastic form in the brim to maintain the shape. So long as this form isn’t made of cardboard, it can survive a laundering.

Check for colorfastness. If you’re nervous that a new hat’s color will run, test for colorfastness by applying a few drops of detergent to a wet washcloth and rub a spot on the inside of the headband. Rinse and let it air dry, then check back. No fading? You’re good to go.

Pre-treat trouble spots. To remove particularly egregious streaks, spots and sweat, have a go at them before the standard wash cycle. To erase tough stains like blood or grass, pre-soak the hat in a solution of cold water and liquid detergent with a bleach-alternative for up to 30 minutes. To get rid of salty sweat residue, pour the detergent directly on the stain and let it sit for 20 minutes.

The rules of the wash. You may have heard people say that they wash hats on the top shelf of the dishwasher, but this is not advised, as bleach from dishwashing detergent could cause spots. Also, you’ll want to be sure to wash your hat in cold water to avoid shrinking the material.

Air-dry for the win. After washing your hat, leave it out in the open to dry. Place it on something roughly noggin-shaped—a ball or a coffee canister, for example—to keep the form.