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Fabric Care Tips and Tricks

FABRIC & FASHION CARE TIPS

  1. Comforters/Quilts
  2. Pillows
  3. Drapes and Rugs
  4. Eco-Style
  5. Damage - fire
  6. Damage - water
  7. Fur Care
  8. Special trims
  9. Greener Home Laundry
  10. Handbags and Purses
  11. Heirloom and Antique Fabrics
  12. Keeping Clothes Like New
  13. Leather Care
  14. Suede Care
  15. Removing Allergens
  16. "Remove before washing" tags
  17. Protect your home
  18. Maintaining allergy-prone items
  19. Shoes
  20. Stain removal
  21. Suit Care
  22. Sweater care
  23. Table linens
  24. Tailoring Tips
  25. UGGs
  26. Wedding Gowns

Comforters and Quilts

Most of us wash our sheets and blankets fairly regularly, but the other stuff—comforters, quilts, and pillows—often don't fit in our washers, or are made of materials we don't know what to do with. Professional dry cleaners know the best ways to treat these items to make sure they are fresh, clean, and stay in good condition. But if you know exactly what your items are made from, here are some guidelines for at-home care

Everyday care
Comforters and quilts can be gently vacuumed to remove dust and allergens. Do not touch the vacuum directly to them; hold the nozzle attachment about ¼ inch above the surface.

Cleaning and Laundering
If you decide to wash your comforters at home, do not put them in the dryer; the stuffing may shrink or become clumpy and uneven (except for down comforters—see below). If line drying isn't an option (especially in rainy or cold weather), take them to a dry cleaner for a thorough cleaning and drying. How a comforter or quilt should be washed depends on its stuffing. Always check care labels to see what the manufacturer recommends, but if the tag is long gone or if it never had one, here are some basic guidelines.

Cotton batting
  • Do not put quilts stuffed with cotton batting in the washing machine—the stuffing will get bunched up and clumpy.
  • Hand-wash in a large laundry tub or bathtub. Use ½ cup vinegar to help dissolve all the soap suds. Do not put in the dryer—line dry outside, preferably in the sun.
  • If line drying isn't an option, take the comforter to a dry cleaner to be washed and dried instead.
Down
  • If a down-filled comforter or quilt is relatively new or in good condition, it should be safe in the washing machine.
  • Line drying is best, but down comforters can be safely dried in your dryer. Use the lowest heat setting or no-heat tumble-dry. Throw in a few clean tennis balls or clean shoes to help fluff it and prevent clumping. This may take 3 hours or more to dry completely.
  • Make sure your comforter is completely dry before using or storing—mildew can grow inside damp down and ruin it.
  • Do not over-clean your down comforter—the natural oils in the material may be stripped over time.
  • If your down comforter is old or is wearing out, take it to a dry cleaner instead.
  • Polyester fiber or poly/cotton blend
  • This kind of comforter/quilt can be safely cleaned at home, unless it is very old or in delicate condition. Follow instructions on the care label for machine washing.
  • If care label is gone, let comforter soak in the washer for several hours before running through the wash cycle.
  • Add ½ cup vinegar to the rinse cycle to ensure all soap residue is dissolved.
  • Put in the drier on the lowest heat setting or no-heat tumble-dry. Throw in a few clean tennis balls or clean shoes to help fluff it and prevent clumping.
Wool
  • Check the care label—if it is not marked washable, do not put it in your washer. It may be vulnerable to shrinkage or distortion. Take it to a dry cleaner.
  • If it is washable, follow the instructions on the label.
Other materials
  • If your comforter or duvet has silk, velvet, or wool—even as a small embellishment—do not wash at home. These fabrics may be damaged in water. Take it to a dry cleaner to be cleaned safely.
Patchwork quilts
  • If a quilt is made from many different fabrics, wash it using a method that would be safe for the most delicate fabric in the mix. If you aren't sure, or if the quilt is old and fragile, take it to a dry cleaner. GreenEarth solution is safe for antique and heirloom fabrics, but machine washing usually isn't.
  • If a quilt can be washed in water, but is starting to wear out, wash it in your bathtub with gentle liquid laundry detergent like Ivory Snow. Make sure the detergent has been completely mixed before adding the quilt. Let the quilt soak for several hours.
  • Drain the tub and rinse in cool water with ½ cup vinegar to help dissolve all soap residue.
  • Line dry in the sun. If the quilt is sturdy, it can go in your dryer. Use the lowest heat setting, or no-heat tumble dry. Throw in a few clean tennis balls or clean shoes to fluff it and prevent clumping.

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Pillows

Everyday care
  • Use two pillowcases, or invest in a high-quality pillow protector—a plain, zippered pillowcase to keep dirt and dust out. Then your pillows won't need to be washed as often.
  • Memory foam can be damaged by water. Waterproof pillow protectors are available to keep them clean and safe.
  • Fluff pillows every day to get out dust and keep the stuffing from clumping
  • Air them outside or by an open window monthly to get rid of odors

Cleaning and Laundering
How a pillow should be washed depends on its stuffing. Always check care labels to see what the manufacturer recommends, but if the tag is long gone, here are some basic guidelines.

Down / Feather
  • Always check for holes or ripped seams first, and repair them before attempting to clean.
  • Down and feather pillows can be dry cleaned, and will retain their softness and fluffiness.
  • If you put down or feather pillows in the washing machine, do two at a time or one with a few towels to balance the load.
  • Use cold water and the delicate cycle, with a gentle detergent like Ivory Snow.
  • If you hand wash, do the same, but use ½ cup vinegar in your rinse water to make sure all the soap dissolves away.
  • To dry, put pillows in on lowest heat setting or no-heat tumble dry. Add a few clean tennis balls or shoes to fluff them in the drier. This may take 3 hours or more.
  • Make sure down and feather pillows are completely dry before using or storing. Mildew can grow inside and ruin them.
  • Do not over-clean down or feather pillows. The natural oils in the material will be stripped over time.
Foam
  • If your pillow is made of "memory foam," do not wash—because of its unique composition, it may take weeks to dry and mildew can grow inside. Contact the manufacturer for specific instructions.
  • If your pillow is made of a different kind of foam, it may be hand washed.
  • Do not machine-wash foam pillows. Take to a dry cleaner to get out dirt and oils that have sunk deep inside the foam.
  • To clean just the surface of the pillow, hand wash in cold water with a gentle detergent like Ivory Snow.
  • Press gently with towels to remove excess water. Do not put foam pillows in the drier or wring them out. Line dry outside, moving frequently to help keep the shape. Or, lay flat on top of a drying rack.
Kapok
  • Kapok is made from Ceiba tree seed coverings. It cannot be washed. Lay pillows out in the sun for several hours to freshen them.
Polyester
  • Not all polyester-filled pillows are the same. Some are washable, some are not. Check the care label and follow washing instructions. If the care label is gone, take it to a dry cleaner to be safe.

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Drapes and Rugs

Drapes and area rugs are difficult to clean at home. Most are too delicate—and too large—to go in a regular washing machine. Professional dry cleaners know how to handle these items. To keep them in good condition in-between cleanings, follow these tips.

Drapes
  • Vacuum drapes weekly with the brush attachment to prevent dust buildup. Use a gentle, up and down sweeping motion.
  • Because you see them every day, it is easy to not notice gradual fading and soiling of curtains and drapes. They may look fine, but if you haven't had them professionally cleaned in a while, you will see the difference. Fabrics cleaned with the GreenEarth process actually come out looking brighter than before.
  • Drapes and curtains generally have care labels. If it is labeled machine-washable, go ahead, but if it doesn't fit comfortably in your washer, take it to a professional for a thorough cleaning that won't leave it wrinkled or linty like your washing machine will.
  • If your windows develop condensation on the inside, check the back of your drapes regularly for any signs of mildew.
Rugs
  • Vacuum regularly to remove dust and dirt.
  • If a spill happens, blot—do not rub—stain with a paper or cloth towel. If the stain has solid or dried matter in it, remove as best you can with a dull knife.
  • Take the rug to a dry cleaner to safely remove the stain—even if it is a very old rug. If that isn't an option, mix up a solution of 2 cups lukewarm water, ¼ cup white vinegar, and liquid dish soap.
  • Most Oriental rugs are acid-resistant, so vinegar should remove the dirt but not the dye. Test for colorfastness by blotting an inconspicuous area with the solution on a white towel. Be careful—if color from the rug comes off on the towel, do not use this solution. Take the rug to the dry cleaner.
  • If you want to clean it yourself, place an old towel under the stained area in case the water soaks through.
  • Sponge solution on stained area, moving in the direction of the nap.
  • Rinse sponge and repeat with clean water.
  • If stain remains, take the rug to a dry cleaner.

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Eco-Style

Ecologically-minded fashions are increasingly popular today. While low-maintenance garments like hemp t-shirts can be cleaned at home, upscale designer gowns and suits require special care. Buying eco-fashions is a great way to reduce your environmental impact, but cleaning them with the toxic chemicals used in traditional dry cleaning garments isn't. Finding a dry cleaner that uses the GreenEarth method is a good way to ensure your eco-clothing will last longer than just a few seasons without doing any damage to the planet. GreenEarth is a safe, non-toxic, biodegradable solution that will keep your garments soft and add to their sustainability.

What it is
The Sustainable Technology Education Project (STEP) defines eco-fashion as clothes "that take into account the environment, the health of consumers and the working conditions of people in the fashion industry." It's all about trying to reduce the environmental impact of clothing, at every step of the process.

Eco-fashion incorporates all-natural, organic, and recycled materials into clothing. There are currently no standardized regulations for what can and can't be labeled eco-friendly in the U.S., but the European Union is developing standards.

While organic and sustainable garments tend to cost more than conventionally produced items, some retailers are offering more lower-priced eco-friendly options. Wal-Mart is the world's largest purchaser of organic cotton, and Target recently introduced a line of 100% organic clothing. Being "green" can be easy and affordable.

What it's made from
Sustainable fabrics are the main component in making an eco-friendly garment. Organically grown versions of fabrics you already wear, like cotton and wool, are becoming easier to find. Other materials, like bamboo and hemp, are new to the fashion world and add trendsetting prestige to an outfit, along with the environmental advantages. To learn which can be cleaned at home which require dry cleaning, see the eco-fabrics cleaning chart below. GreenEarth solution is an eco-friendly choice for dry cleaning eco-friendly garments that won't fade or wear fabrics, so clothes stay newer longer.

Bamboo
The bamboo plant does not need pesticides or fertilizers, requires very little water, and can grow up to several feet per day. Bamboo also "breathes" heavily—a bamboo grove releases 35% more oxygen than other trees. Bamboo fabric is more absorbent than cotton, quick-drying, and has naturally occurring anti-microbial properties that help stop odor.

Factories that manufacture bamboo fibers use a process similar to that of rayon—using the caustic chemicals sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide. "Greener" methods of making bamboo clothing are being developed, but the chemical method still has a smaller environmental impact than conventionally grown cotton and petroleum-based nylon and polyester fabrics.

Organic cotton
Cotton farming in the United States uses only about 3% of the farmland, but 25% of the pesticides. To put it in perspective, it takes 1/3 of a pound of chemicals to produce one t-shirt. Organic cotton is cotton that has been grown without chemicals on land that has been chemical-free for at least three years. It must be certified organic by a third party—in the U.S., the Department of Agriculture regulates this process. Cotton that is grown without chemicals, but on land that has not yet been chemical free for a full three years, is referred to as transitional cotton.

Organic cotton garments cost more than conventional ones—up to 50% more. Some manufacturers use blended fibers with 10-25% organic cotton to help keep the cost of the garments down while still supporting sustainability. Organically grown cotton feels, looks, and can be washed just like regular cotton.

Hemp
The hemp plant grows well without using pesticides or other agrochemicals. It is a hardy plant that can withstand harsh weather, and fertilizes its own soil by shedding leaves throughout the season. These natural qualities make hemp a sustainable choice for the production of many goods. Hemp is illegal to grow in the U.S., so hemp fibers must be imported for use in the apparel industry. It is not illegal to use hemp in manufacturing—hemp oil is an ingredient in many cosmetics, and hemp paper and clothing are sold in the U.S. Hemp fabric is moth-resistant, quick-drying and holds its shape well. Though difficult to bleach, it can be dyed a variety of dark and bright colors. It is breathable and durable, and becomes softer through washing and wearing.

Linen
"Linen" can be an ambiguous term—it often refers to bed sheets, towels, and tablecloths made from a variety of fabrics. Traditional linen is an all-natural fabric derived from flax. Being all-natural, however, does not necessarily make it a sustainable choice. The process used to create linen fibers from flax often uses harsh chemicals. Look for certified organic linen—it is chemical-free from the plant to the end product. Organic linen is generally not treated with wrinkle-reducing chemicals, so have it dry cleaned with GreenEarth to keep it looking fresh and crisp without any environmental hazards.

Organic Wool
Certified organic wool must comply with organic standards for livestock (such as organic beef). These standards include providing organic feed for the sheep, not overcrowding the sheep on the land, and the prohibition of synthetic chemicals and hormones. Because of increased production costs, organic wool does cost more than conventional wool. Organic wool feels, looks, and can be used exactly like conventional wool. Some conventional wool garments are labeled machine washable, but because organic wool is usually not treated with any shrink-reducing chemicals, it should be dry cleaned. GreenEarth, in addition to being an environmentally-friendly choice, prevents shrinkage.

Recycled Polyester
Polyester is a petroleum-based plastic made from polyethylene terephthalate, or PET—the same plastic as water and soda bottles. Recycled polyester can be made from old polyester clothes as well as other similar plastic products, and may be labeled as "eco-fleece." Patagonia, a brand of outdoor wear, pioneered a program where customers can send back their worn-out polyester items to be recycled and sold again. In addition to sportswear, more upscale items such as suits are being made from this material. To protect nicer items from the agitation of a washing machine, have them dry cleaned with GreenEarth so they last longer without the use of toxic chemicals.
While recycling is a hallmark of the environmental movement, the chemical process used to melt down and remake polyester is not always eco-friendly. Even so, purchasing recycled rather than new polyester items reduces the amount of oil needed to produce garments, and reduces the amount of polyester going into landfills.

How to Clean
Depending on the type of garment and the price you paid for it, you may not want to risk washing your eco-fashions at home. Many items, no matter what they are made from, are labeled "dry clean only," and there are good reasons for it. Dry cleaning extends the life of a garment by reducing the wear and tear from a regular washing machine. Unlike traditional dry cleaning, GreenEarth is eco-friendly and gentle on fabrics.

FABRICWHEN TO WASH WHEN TO DRY CLEAN
BambooCotton/bamboo blends that have been preshrunk, t-shirts, socks, and other casual low-maintenance items can be safely machine washed.All bamboo bedding should be dry cleaned in GreenEarth, as well as blazers, sport coats, and dresses. Dry clean anything made from 100% bamboo—it may shrink in regular washing
Organic Cotton T-shirts, denim, and other everyday wear made from organic cotton can be safely machine washed.Delicate knits, blends with other material (such as wool or cashmere), bedding, and nicer items such as blazers, polos and dresses, should be dry cleaned in GreenEarth
HempCasual shirts and pants can be safely machine washed. Hemp will naturally become softer over time, similar to denim.Delicate knits, blends with other material (such as wool or cashmere), bedding, and nicer items such as blazers, polos and dresses, should be dry cleaned in GreenEarth
LinenIf your linen has been pre-treated with wrinkle-reducing chemicals, it can be machine washed. Check the tag to find out.If your linen has not been treated with wrinkle-reducing chemicals, it should be dry cleaned in GreenEarth to prevent wrinkles and reduce static and lint buildup
Organic Wool Only if the item is labeled machine washable, but be careful—organic wool may not be treated with shrink reducing chemicals, so even if it has been preshrunk, it may be distorted in the washAlmost all wool items need to be dry cleaned in GreenEarth, especially if your item has not been preshrunk or treated with shrink reducing chemicals
Recycled Polyester Fleece pullovers, jackets, and light but sturdy items can be machine washedSuits, dresses, and other dressy items should be dry cleaned in GreenEarth, and any polyester item that is filled with down (winter coats, sleeping bags)

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Damage - fire

The treatment a fire-damaged garment or fabric needs depends on the kind of fire it was in. Wood, plastics, and other materials leave different chemicals in their soot and odors, and may react differently to cleaning treatments. It is best to contact a professional fire restorer or dry cleaner to find out if items can be safely restored, and let the experts handle it. They have special chemicals that remove smoke and soot particles that are not available for home use. There are a few things you can do at home to help restore your garments, but be careful—an item can be ruined by improper cleaning methods.

Soot and Smoke
  • Do not attempt to wipe or rub away soot—the oily particles will be ground into the fabric and stain permanently. Take the garment outside and shake it as best as possible. If the item cannot be shaken (like a couch), avoid touching it until a professional can take a look at it.
  • Larger, sturdier items (drapes, blankets, couches) can be gently vacuumed by holding the nozzle ¼ inch above the fabric. Do not use brush attachments or upright vacuuming as it could grind the soot back in.
Odor
  • Do not use perfumed sprays or disinfectants to remove odor. They will only mask odor for a short while, and may interact chemically with smoke odor to create a new unpleasant smell.
  • Hang damaged items outside, preferably in sunlight, for 4-8 hours to air out. If weather does not permit, hang items in a location that was not damaged by fire. Soot remains in the air of the home or building where the fire happened, and will redeposit on clothing.
  • If airing out does not eliminate odor, contact professional fire restorers / dry cleaners and ask about "counteractants." These chemicals, applied based on what material was burned in the fire, can help to break up smoke and odor particles in the fabric.
Cleaning methods
  • Machine-washable clothing that was in a closed closet or drawer during a fire can sometimes be restored at home. Only attempt cleaning items with very mild damage; take dry-clean-only and heavily soiled items to a dry cleaner.
  • Do not attempt to wash fabrics at home before they have been deodorized / aired out. If you cannot get rid of the odor, take the item to a dry cleaner or risk setting the smoke smell into the fabric permanently.
  • For machine-washable items (cottons and polyesters), run through 5 regular wash cycles with a strong detergent, like Era, and warm water.
  • Adding ½ cup white vinegar can help to eliminate odor. No difference may be seen after the first 2 washes, but repeated washing has been shown to significantly improve smoke damaged clothing.
  • Do not put items in a dryer in between washes—this will set in stains and smoke odor. Hang outside or another location that was not damaged by fire.
  • Some embellishments—even on washable items—may be permanently damaged and need replacing. Buttons, beaded trims, belt buckles, clasps etc may not show any change after multiple washings. GreenEarth solution is safe and gentle on these kinds of details, so take them to a cleaner to see if they can be restored.

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Damage - water

Water damage, whether from fire-fighting, flooding, burst pipes or other mishaps, can ruin clothing and other fabrics. Water damage is not always immediately visible, but can worsen in a short amount of time. Bacteria, mold, and mildew can begin growing in wet or damp items, so it is important to begin restoration as soon as possible.

The success of restoration efforts depends on what kind of water affected the items and how long ago the damage occurred. Waiting more than 72 hours significantly reduces the likelihood that the items can be restored. If you do not have time to wash soiled clothing right away, or if your washing machine / laundry room was also affected and cannot be used, take the items to a professional dry cleaner. Dry-clean-only items that have been water damaged can usually be restored by a regular dry cleaning as well.

Kinds of water damage
In cases of severe flooding, no matter where the water came from, it has probably come into contact with many other substances present in your home and surrounding areas. For this reason, it is important to be careful handling water damaged items that are still wet. Wear gloves or wash your hands with clean water and soap after handling them.

Clean water:
Clean water is water that has no contaminants or organic matter in it. If your clothing was damaged by water from a fire hose, broken water line, clean toilet, sink, bathtub, or rain/snow/ice, then it has clean water damage. However, if water that was originally clean has been left standing for more than 48 hours, it may become grey water.

Grey water:
Grey water is water that has biological organisms, contaminating chemicals, dirt, or other organic matter in it. It may have a cloudy appearance and would be unsafe for human consumption. Examples of grey water are used laundry or dish water, toilet water with urine but no feces, fish tank water, and water from a water bed. Because grey water may have microorganisms and bacteria already in it, it can quickly become black water.

Black water:
Black water is water that is contaminated and unsanitary. It may not always appear "dirty," so it is important to know the source of the water. Flooding from sea, river, and lake water is classified as black water because of the presence of microorganisms and unknown chemical pollutants. Sewage water is also black water. Items that have been heavily damaged by black water should probably be discarded, but always check with a dry cleaner to see if they can be restored.

Tips
  • Thoroughly dry water-damaged items outdoors or on a drying rack in a clean room. Putting the items in a dryer will set in unpleasant smells, black mildew spots, and other stains.
  • Machine-washable items with mild damage can be washed with laundry detergent and vinegar to help kill germs and neutralize odors.
  • Contact a professional water-damage restorer or dry cleaner for items that are not machine-washable or are severely damaged.
Removing mold / mildew from machine-washable items
  1. If garments are still wet, lay in the sun to dry. Dry heat and light help to kill mold. If your item is labeled dry clean-only, take it to a cleaner after it is dry.
  2. If your item is washable, fill washing machine with warm water and regular amount of detergent. Add ½ cup borax and let mildewed garments soak in this solution for up to 4 hours.
  3. Run regular wash cycle.
  4. If garments still show signs of mildew, do not put in dryer. Apply a mixture of lemon juice and salt to mildew spots and dry in sunlight.
  5. Machine wash again.

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Fur Care

Whether you have a large fur coat or a handbag with fur trim, all furs need special care and storage to preserve their natural shine and softness.

Storage

  • Furs should be kept in "cold storage" during the summer, as heat and humidity can damage them. Many furriers maintain cold storage facilities with strict temperature, light, and humidity controls. You can ship your coat to them and have it sent back when you want it, and some even offer pick up and delivery services. Find out if the place you purchased your fur from has this option.
  • Do not put your fur in a home freezer as a substitute for cold storage. The optimal temperature and humidity levels vary depending on what kind of pelts your garment is made from.
  • When not in use, hang your fur in a cool, dark closet. Do not store in a plastic garment bag or cedar chest.
  • Hang on wide hangers to help fur keep its shape.
  • Keep your fur away from direct heat (such as a radiator or air vent).
Traveling
  • If your car seats are made from synthetic material, invest in seat covers made from cotton or wool. Synthetic fibers will wear out and matt your fur.
Water
  • If your fur gets wet, shake it out to dry. Do not use heat.
Cleaning
  • Some of North America's largest furriers use GreenEarth in their cleaning process. Always take furs and garments with fur trim to professional furriers, who are experts in a variety of cleaning methods and will use their discretion on how a particular item should be cleaned.
  • If any staining or spilling occurs, contact a professional furrier right away. Never try to treat the stain yourself. If there is no staining, furs should be cleaned about once a year.
  • Keep hairsprays, perfumes, hand lotions etc away from fur.

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Special trims

Garments that have embellishments or trims of different materials sometimes require special care. Garments with sequins, beads, embroidery, appliqués, and other details can be damaged by traditional dry cleaning, but GreenEarth is gentle enough for even these delicate

  • Check the garment care label—if the laundering instructions say "exclusive of trim," this may mean that the trim will not hold up under regular washing, even if the rest of the material will. Take it to your GreenEarth cleaner to make sure the entire garment comes out clean and refreshed.
  • Examine the trim to determine if it is glued or sewn on. If it is sewn, is should be safe in the wash. But if there are no stitches, the glue holding it on may dissolve after repeated washings. Take it to a dry cleaner using GreenEarth to protect it.
  • Some sequins and beads may be hand-painted, and will lose their color over time regardless of how they are washed.
  • Plastic gems may become cloudy over time, as the foil backing that gives them sparkle can deteriorate.

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Greener Home Laundry

For the everyday items you wash at home, there are easy, earth-friendly solutions that will get your laundry greener and cleaner.

All-natural laundry cleaning agents
These tips are best for machine washable fabrics. Always test new laundry methods in an inconspicuous spot first.

Vinegar
  • Fabric softener: adding ½ cup white vinegar to the rinse cycle will soften clothes. For pillows and blankets, add 2 cups to the rinse cycle to keep them fluffy.
  • Lint and pet hair prevention: adding ½ cup white vinegar to the rinse cycle will prevent lint build up on clothing and reduce the amount of pet hair left clinging after the wash
  • Static cling: add ½ cup white vinegar to the rinse cycle to keep clothes static-free
  • Hand wash: If you have trouble giving delicate items a thorough rinse when you wash them by hand, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the rinse water help dissolve detergent residue.
  • Stain removal: diluted vinegar can be used on most machine-washable fabrics to remove stains. See our "stain smarts" section for information on specific stains.
  • Color refresher: Soak faded clothes in a solution of 1 cup vinegar per 1 gallon warm water. Rinse in cold water and see the difference.
Salt
  • Bleeding: adding ½ cup salt to your regular wash cycle can help prevent colors from running or bleeding.
  • Yellowing: For white cotton or linen items, a 1-hour soak in boiling water with 1 tablespoon salt and ¼ cup baking soda will remove the yellow tinge. For nylon, soaking in warm water with Epsom salt and rinsing in clear water will bring the white back out.
  • Ironing: To clean a sticky iron, set it on low and run it over a piece of paper with salt spilled on it. And to keep the iron from sticking to clothes in the future, add a pinch of salt to the laundry starch.
Baking Soda
  • Odor eliminator: Adding ½ cup baking soda to the rinse cycle will neutralize odors and leave your laundry smelling fresh without fragrance.
  • Brightener: To give your regular liquid laundry detergent a stain-fighting boost, add ½ cup baking soda to your regular wash cycle. Baking soda helps neutralize the pH in your wash water, improving the way detergent interacts with your clothes. Your whites will come out whiter and colors brighter.
  • Stain removal: A paste of baking soda and water can be rubbed into tough stains like blood, wine, perspiration, and vomit to kill the odor and help remove the stain. See our "stain smarts" section for details on specific stains.
Lemon Juice
  • Bleach: Lemon juice is an all-natural bleaching agent. Pour lemon juice on stains (test for colorfastness in a hidden spot first) and hang in the sun to dry, then machine wash as usual. For an allover white brightener, replace the bleach in your wash cycle with 1 cup of lemon juice.
  • Soak solution: For very soiled or perpetually dingy items (not just clothes—think towels, sheets, tablecloths), soak overnight in hot water with ½ cup lemon juice. Machine wash as usual.

Energy savers
Save the environment—and your wallet—with a few easy changes to your laundry routine

  • Wash clothes in cold or warm water instead of hot. According to the California Energy Commission, 85-90% of the energy used by washing machines goes to heat the water. And washing in cold gets your clothes just as clean as hot. Tide Coldwater, the first detergent specially formulated for energy-saving, has the same stain-fighting power as the original.
  • Pre-treat stains and presoak very soiled items so you don't have to put them through the washer twice.
  • Hang dry laundry to reduce your electric dryer use. If weather prevents you from line-drying outside, buy a drying rack to use indoors. Or buy a tension rod and hang garments on plastic hangers in a doorway or alcove.
  • Don't over-dry clothes—it wears your clothes out faster and uses more energy. Use the auto-dry feature if you have one, or set the timer for shorter intervals and check clothes to see if they're done.
  • Pull clothes out of the dryer while still damp and hang them up. They will dry with fewer wrinkles, reducing the amount of ironing you normally do.
  • Clean the lint filter in your dryer after every use—it improves air circulation so your dryer works more efficiently and quickly.

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Handbags and Purses

Protect your designer, vintage, and high-quality handbags from everyday wear and tear. Bags and purses are made from many different materials, but all can be safely dry cleaned with GreenEarth solution. We recommend that you utilize a leather care specialist. A list of leather care specialists is available on our Store Locator. The proprietary ingredients utilized by these professionals are designed to produce the ultimate in gentle, natural skin cleaning, and they offer a wide range of specialized expertise to help you keep your leather purse looking like new - from waterproofing and replenishing natural oils to re-dyeing leathers to repairing and altering.

Everyday care
  • Be mindful of where you set your bag down. The floor of your car, the kitchen counter, and shopping carts at the grocery store could soil it before you even notice.
  • Don't use your bag as a portable desk if you need to write a check or a quick note—the pen may bleed through and stain your bag, and the pressure from the pen point can leave permanent indentions, especially in leather.
  • Check that makeup containers, lotions, perfumes etc are tightly closed before you toss them in your bag. Use makeup cases or small pouches to hold these items and give your bag an extra layer of protection in case of a leak.
  • If you have several bags you like to use regularly, consider buying a removable bag liner. Not only does it make switching all of your items from one bag to the next a quick and easy process, but it also protects the inside of your bag from crumbs, leaks, pen marks, and other potential hazards.
  • If you store your purse in a file cabinet or desk drawer at work, keep it in a pillowcase so it doesn't get scratched by sharp edges or splinters.
  • Don't carry your favorite bag in bad weather—rain and snow can damage leather or leave watermarks. If you can't avoid it, keep it protected under your umbrella.
  • Avoid taking your best bags to places with heavy smoke, like bars and clubs. The smell will stick and light colored bags will become dingy over time.
Storage
  • Many women switch their bags according to the season. When not in use, stuff bags with bubble wrap to help them keep their shape. Try to avoid newspaper and tissue—they can attract moths, and newsprint ink may stain the inside of the bag if left for a long time.
  • Undo any buckles or fasteners to prevent permanent kinking in the material.
  • Store bags in a cool, dry place in a breathable dust cover or pillowcase. Do not store them in plastic.
Metal buckles and embellishments
  • If the gold or silver on your bag starts to lose its shine, a soft cloth with jewelry cleaner should do the trick.
  • If the hardware is brass, use brass cleaner.
Cleaning
  • Condition leather bags monthly if they are used heavily.
  • Do not use leather conditioner or cleaner on suede bags—purchase a suede brush from a leather specialty store and use it to gently rub away any marks.
  • Cotton and cotton-poly blends can be spot cleaned at home. See our stain smarts section for directions on specific stains. Do not put the bag in your washing machine.
  • Snakeskin is different from leather—do not attempt to clean at home. Take it to a dry cleaner.
  • To remove odors, fill a small open jar or container with baking soda and let it sit in the bottom of the bag for a few days.
  • Take handbags to the dry cleaner for cleaning once a season, or more if they are stained or soiled.

Antiques

  • Antique and vintage handbags are more delicate because of their age, and may require more cleaning.
Metal mesh purses
  • Be gentle when handling, as chain links may have deteriorated and could break or unhook.
  • Simply wiping with a soft, damp cloth can remove years of oil and grime from a mesh handbag.
  • Use extra fine steel wool to gently buff frames and solid metal accents.
  • Blow dry when finished.
  • To restore luster and shine, use silver or brass cleaner.
Rhinestone purses
  • If the rhinestones are dingy or losing their sparkle, wipe them with a soft, damp cloth and a little bit of dish soap. If this doesn't work, try glass cleaner.
  • To clean the lining, use a clean, damp toothbrush and gentle detergent, like Ivory Snow. Use gentle circular motions to clean.

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Heirloom and Antique Fabrics

Your grandmother's wedding dress, that gorgeous vintage coat, the antique handbag you found at a thrift store—these kinds of items are special and irreplaceable. Cleaning and storing these delicate items properly is essential to preserving them in the best condition possible.

Cleaning

  • The agitation of a regular washing machine, even on the gentle cycle, can be too harsh for delicate and aging fabrics. If an item has monetary or sentimental value, don't take any chances washing it at home.
  • Some vintage clothing collectors and retailers warn against dry cleaning, but GreenEarth is different. Traditional dry cleaning uses harsh chemicals that can be hard on fabric, but GreenEarth is safe and gentle, perfect for antique and vintage garments.
  • If an accidental spill occurs, or if you bought an antique item with a stain on it, you can try spot cleaning it. See our "Stain Smarts" section for instructions on how to treat almost any kind of stain.
  • For information on antique bags and purses, see our "Handbags" section.

Storage

  • Garments should always be cleaned before being put away. Even if they look clean, some invisible stains, such as perspiration, take time to interact with the fabric and will appear as brown splotches later. Stop stains before they happen by having your vintage items dry cleaned before storing them.
  • Do not store items in plastic garment bags. They need to be able to breath, and the plastic may begin to break down and interact with the material of the garment.
  • Wrap in acid-free tissue paper or 100% white cotton bed sheets before folding them. This prevents damage to delicate fibers along the fold lines.
  • Place folded items in acid-free boxes, a cedar chest, or well-ventilated plastic boxes. Do not store in a cedar chest without wrapping in cotton or tissue—the oils that carry the cedar scent can damage fabric over time.
  • Only hang sturdy items like coats, and use wide padded hangers. More fragile items can be damaged by their own weight, so fold dresses, suit jackets, and other items you would usually hang if they are going to be in storage for a while.
  • Store all items in a cool (not cold), dark place that is not subject to extreme humidity or temperature changes. Basements, attics, and garages are not the best places for antique items.

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Keeping Clothes Like New

No one likes it when colors fade, fabric wears out, and hems come undone. To keep your clothes looking as good as new, follow these tips to preserve washable and dry clean only garments. Your clothes will last longer with regular cleaning and care.

General care tips

  • When changing out of your clothes, be sure to let suits, coats and shoes air out for at least 30 minutes before you store them in your closet. Hang them up on a clothes rack or on a hanger outside your closet before putting them away. Do not throw them over a chair as this can create new wrinkles.
  • It's also important to rotate your sweaters and jackets like you do your shoes, to give them a chance to breathe and regain their shape.
  • Turn off the closet light and don't leave garments near the window. Sunlight can fade the colors on your clothes just like it does drapes. Dyes are sensitive to prolonged sunlight or even to a light left on in a closet.
  • In summer, be careful with lotions and sunscreen as it can fade or stain your clothes.
  • Spray perfume and hairspray on before you get dressed. The alcohol in the spray can fade, discolor or stain clothes.
  • Always clean your clothes before storing them for the season. Untreated food and beverage stains can attract insects!
  • Never hang wet or damp clothes in your closet. This can attract mildew.
  • Never store your clothes in plastic bags. It can trap in humidity that attracts mildew. Use breathable cotton sheets or bags.
  • Brush off any salt before cleaning clothes or taking them to the dry cleaner. Salt can cause damage during cleaning. If you have come into contact with salt (e.g. pant cuffs brushing up against winter street salt), wipe with cold water and air dry. Always point salt treated areas out to your dry cleaner. Shoes are especially prone to salt damage during winter. When you come home, wipe off any salt residue with a cold damp cloth.

General tips for at-home laundering

Wash in cold water.
Hot water wears out fabrics more quickly. Save the hot water for really soiled loads—kids' baseball uniforms, gardening clothes, dirty sheets—and wash everything else in cold. Even if a garment says wash in hot water, washing in cold won't hurt it (washing a cold water garment in hot, however, can be damaging). Your clothes will be just as clean, and the threads will stay strong. Check out Tide Coldwater, a specially formulated liquid detergent for cold water washing.

Invest in a front-loading washer.
Most Americans use top-loading washers, which have an agitator inside that pulls your clothes around. Front-loading washers use gravity to tumble clothes in and out of the water, much like the motion of a dryer. This is much gentler on your clothes and helps prevent to prevent snags and tangling.

Wash clothes inside-out.
Protect the important part of a garment—the outside—by simply turning it inside out before you toss it in. It may not seem like much, but embellishments on the outside of a garment, even screen printing, can be worn away or snagged by the inside of the washer. Items with beading, embroidery, appliqués and other details should always be washed inside-out.

Don't use chlorine bleach.
Vinegar is a natural brightener that won't wear out the fibers of your clothing the way chlorine bleach will. Plus, it's better for the environment—we love that.

Air dry.
Dryer heat damages fabric over time. Electric dryers cause shrinkage, color fading, and weaken the material fibers. Instead, line dry clothing outside, or indoors on a drying rack. You can also hang garments on plastic hangers in your shower or on a tension rod in an alcove. If you simply can't air dry, use the lowest heat setting on your dryer.

Follow care label directions.
Most people know they should read garment care labels, but something many people forget is to read the directions on their laundry detergent too. Don't use too much—too many suds means the rinse cycle might not get all the soap residue out of your clothing. And use the right kind—gentle detergents for delicates, and regular detergent for sturdier items.

Treat stains the right way, and right away.
A spill or stain doesn't have to ruin a garment—see our "Stain Smarts" section for directions on treating almost any kind of stain. Read the directions on stain removal products too, even if you have used them before. They may not be safe for every kind of fabric, or be recommended for every kind of stain.

General tips for dry-clean only clothing

Don't try it at home.
If an item is labeled "dry clean only," there's a good reason for it. Don't put anything in your washing machine that doesn't belong there—it could shrink or become discolored, and the agitation from the machine will wear out the fabric faster. Don't try to remove stains on dry clean items either; professional dry cleaners know how to treat them based on the fabric and the stain.

Keep up with regular cleanings
Many garment manufacturers warn against cleaning too often—that's because traditional dry cleaning can be hard on fabric over time. GreenEarth, however, is different. Our gentle solution will not harm fabric fibers as it cleans them because unlike petrochemical dry cleaning fluid, GreenEarth is chmically inert; it does not swell or rub fabric fibers during the cleaning process, it simply carries the detergent to your clothes, and carries the diret away without hurting the fabric itself. Regular dry cleaning with GreenEarth will actually help your clothes last longer. Solid materials left behind after perspiration evaporates can be especially damaging to the life of a garment, as can storing them without cleaning first to remove visible and invisible food and beverage stains that attract insects. Clean suits and formal dresses every 2-3 wearings to prevent dirt and oil buildup that can corrode the material. In between cleanings, hanging clothes near the steam from a shower will help refresh them and allow them keep their shape longer. Let your dry cleaner know about stains before having them cleanedDo not try to remove stains yourself. Blot spills without rubbing and take to the cleaners as soon as possible. Attempting to remove stains from some fabrics, like silks, can cause permanent damage.

Clean before storing.
Stains from seemingly clear substances like body oils, perspiration, white wine and sugary substances may not appear for some time. Once these have a chance to oxidize, they may show up as light brown or yellow splotches that are difficult to remove. Before putting away seasonal items for long-term storage, have them dry cleaned. Dry cleaning to remove visible and invisible stains before insects find them is important to prevent unexpected surprises a few months down the road.

Hang safely
Use wide, padded hangers for delicate fabrics so the material of the shoulders doesn't stretch or wear out. Don't cut hanger straps out of tops and dresses—use them to reduce stress on the rest of the garment. Hang suit jackets on wide wooden hangers to help them keep their shape. And give things room to breathe in your closet—they can touch, but don't cram them in.

Don't use plastic.

Do not store clothing in plastic garment bags. The plastic breaks down over time and can interact with the fabric, which can weaken it or change the color. Plastic can also trap in humidity that can lead to mildew damage. Garments need to be able to breathe, so wrap them in plain cotton sheets or a cloth garment bag to keep them safe.

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Leather Care

Preventative care

Protectors
Most leather specialty shops sell leather protectors—sprays that guard your garment from stains, water, and skin oil damage.

  • Leather conditioner keeps leather soft and pliable, and helps it repel water. Condition at least 4 times a year, or more if your leather is regularly exposed to rain or sun.
  • Avoid spraying hairspray, perfume, or cologne while wearing your leather.
Storage
  • Always hang leather garments on padded hangers to help retain their shape
  • Never store leather in plastic or non-breathable covers —it could cause lether to dry out and lose its integrity. Instead, cover leather items with an old sheet for long-term storage.
  • Keep leather out of direct sunlight and heat to prevent fading. Avoid very humid or dry environments.
Water damage
  • If your leather gets wet, blot dry with a towel. Hang up and dry at room temperature naturally away from a heat sources.
  • Use leather conditioner after garment has dried. Natural drying sucks moisture out of leather and may cause it to become brittle or crack over time.
Stain removal
  • If stain is fresh, simply wipe it off with a soft, damp cloth. Do not rub.
  • If stain is oily, sprinkle baking soda let sit overnight to absorb. Wipe off with a damp cloth.
  • Do not use regular fabric stain removers on leather—they are likely to damage it.
  • When using specialty leather cleaner, always test in an inconspicuous area first. Dab a little cleaner on and blot with a soft white cloth. If no color from the garment bleeds onto the cloth, the cleaner is safe to use.
  • Take your leather garment to a cleaner using GreenEarth—it's safe on leather and suede and can get the stain out.

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Suede Care

Preventative Care
  • Purchase a suede protector from a leather or suede specialty store. This will give your suede item a defense against water damage and stains.
  • Suede brushes are recommended to keep suede's unique texture. Brush gently in a circular motion to raise the nap and restore softness.
  • Do not store suede items in plastic; they need to be able to breathe. Store them in old pillowcases or cover with a sheet.
  • Store suede items in a dry, dark place. Moisture and light can cause mildew growth and fading.
Water Damage
  • If your suede gets wet, blot the water with a towel.
  • Allow the suede to dry in the open air. Do not use heat to dry; this can damage the item.
  • When dry, use a suede brush (available at leather and suede specialty stores) to restore the nap—the raised fibers that give suede its unique texture. Alternatively, a terry towel can help restore the look of suede.
Stains
  • Do not use at-home stain removers on suede; they may create a stain of their own.
  • Use a nail file or suede brush to rub away dirt and dried mud from suede shoes. This also works for scuff marks.
  • Oily stains like salad dressing, butter, and mayonnaise can be absorbed by talcum powder or cornstarch. Let the powder sit on the stain until it has been soaked up, then brush off. Take to a dry cleaner to remove any remaining stain.
  • To help stop an ink stain from setting, use a damp—but not wet—cloth to gently wipe. Take the garment to a professional for complete stain removal.
  • If a stain is severe, take the garment to a dry cleaner using GreenEarth—it is safe for suedes and leathers and the most gentle dry cleaning solution to get the stain out.

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Removing Allergens

Seasonal allergies are bad enough, but there may also be allergens in your home year-round. Dust, dust mites, bacteria, and mildew all contribute to allergy symptoms. To keep allergens from affecting you and your family, don't wait for spring cleaning. As with most cleaning methods, prevention is the best solution. Simple routine care can keep your home fresh and clean all year.

What is dust?
Tiny bits of lint, fabric, dead skin cells, pet dander, pollen and other plant matter, drywall, paint particles, carpet fibers, soil, hair, and dust mites. While any of these substances can irritate your nose or throat, some people are truly allergic to dust mite droppings. Dust mites—microscopic bugs that consume dead skin cells of humans and animals—live inside pillows, mattresses, curtains, carpet, and furniture.

What is mildew?
Mildew is a form of mold, a fungus that can produce mild allergic reactions or severe health problems, depending on the extent of exposure. Symptoms include throat and nose irritation, red or watery eyes, sneezing, and headaches. Mildew feeds on organic matter (this includes cotton, leather, and silk garments, as well as food stains on garments) and grows in damp, warm places. It can develop on wet garments whether they are clean or dirty. Even the small amount of moisture from perspiration can be enough to grow mildew if the garment is not aired out and washed.

To prevent mildew, make sure garments are completely dry before putting them away. Do not leave wet garments sitting in a pile.Mildew has an unpleasant, musty smell and appears as black dots on clothing. It is best to take very mildewed garments to a cleaner. More information on removing mildew stains can be found in our section on Water Damage.

"Remove before washing" tags

It is very important to carefully remove those little tags sewn into garments that say "Remove before washing or wearing." These tags contain a colored dye that could be released during wearing, washing or dry cleaning. Whenever you buy any new item of clothing, check it carefully and use scissors to clip out these pesky tags!

Protect your home

These preventative steps will help stop allergens from accumulating in your home.

Pillow protectors / dust mite covers
To keep dust mites out of your bed, purchase specially made "dust mite covers" for pillows and mattresses. While you can't get rid of mites entirely, these zippered protectors provide a barrier for dust mites so they can't get inside and make themselves at home where you can't get them out. Wash the covers weekly to cleanse them of mite droppings.

It's important to have your sheets and pillows cleaned regularly to reduce allergens. See our "Pillows and Comforters" section for info on how to safely clean all different kinds of bedding.

Slipcovers
Dust mites don't just hide in your bed, they love furniture too. Slipcovers provide another barrier to the stuffing to help keep mites out, and unlike your whole couch, you can easily take them to the dry cleaner. In addition to protecting against allergens, slipcovers also protect your upholstery from spills, perspiration, and skin oil.

Bamboo sheets
You may not be able to see it, but your sheets absorb a lot of perspiration and skin and hair oils. Regular washing is enough to remove any unseen bacteria, but if your allergies are severe, or if you don't have time to wash your bedding as often as you'd like, consider investing in bamboo sheets. Bamboo has naturally occurring antimicrobial and antifungal properties, and also wicks away moisture. This means bacteria can't survive on the fabric for very long, and it is harder for mildew to grow. For more information about bamboo fabric, see our "Eco-Style" section.

Dehumidify
If you live in a humid area and don't already have a dehumidifier in your home, consider getting one. Dust mites, mold, and mildew all thrive in warm, moist conditions. Always turn on the bathroom fan when taking a hot shower for the same reasons.

Air vents
Dust may look like it's just sitting there, but it's not. It circulates around your home and collects in heating and cooling vents. You can buy filters to place right under the vent to trap allergens. For maximum dust control, you can install an electrostatic filter directly in your air conditioner or furnace. Talk to your heating and cooling professional about what the best method is for your home.

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Maintaining allergy-prone items

Drapes and mini-blinds
Window treatments are real dust collectors. The easiest way to get rid of allergens in drapes and curtains is to simply have them dry cleaned. See our "Drapes and Rugs" section for detailed information.

For mini-blinds, gentle vacuuming with the brush attachment or wiping with a damp rag or Swiffer should remove the dust.

Efficient dusting
Using feather dusters or plain dust rags moves—rather than removes—dust around your home. Use a damp cloth or a product specially designed for maximum dust pickup, such as Swiffer.

Don't wait until you can see the dust to wipe it off. That coffee table you use every day may look clean, but give it a thorough dusting with a cleaning cloth and see how much you pick up.

Fabric care
To kill allergens on furniture, try a specialty fabric spray. Febreze now makes both allergen-reducing and antimicrobial formulas that are safe to use on most upholstery (except leather).

For clothing, take care of dirty, wet items right away—don't give mildew a chance to develop. If it does, take it to a dry cleaner to be cleaned. Washing and drying at home can set mildew stains.

Vacuuming
Nearly 100,000 dust mites can live in 1 square yard of carpet, along with all the other allergens that accumulate on the floor. Weekly vacuuming is essential to keeping carpets clean and allergen-free. Under furniture and in crevices against the wall are especially dust-heavy, so do a really thorough cleaning once a month. Move furniture around to get places you usually can't reach, and use the nozzle attachment to get into corners.

In addition to vacuuming, have area rugs and carpets dry cleaned regularly to kill mites and get rid of their droppings, as well as other fabric pollutants.

A mini-vacuum is a good tool to get the dust out of upholstery. Or use the nozzle attachment of an upright vacuum, making sure to get in-between and under cushions.

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Shoes

Before cleaning or conditioning shoes, make sure you have the right products. Identify the material you are working with (located on the tag inside the shoe, sometimes under the tongue) before attempting to clean. If you're not sure, take the shoes to a professional.

General tips for all shoes
  • When using shoe cleaners and polishes, always work in a well-ventilated area so that fumes aren't an issue. Put newspaper down or work outside to avoid staining things around you.
  • Remove laces before cleaning and polishing, and wash them with a load of laundry.
  • To remove odor from any kind of shoe, sprinkle baking soda inside (make sure shoes are dry first). Let shoes air out overnight. Shake them out in the morning, using a tissue or cloth to wipe out any leftover residue.
  • Try not to wear the same pair every day. Alternating between two pairs gives them a chance to air out and they will wear out less quickly.
  • When buying new shoes, ask the salesperson about protective sprays or creams for the specific kind of shoes you are getting. It is easier to prevent stains and soiling than to remove them.

Smooth leather shoes
To extend the life of smooth leather shoes and keep them looking like new, clean, condition, and polish them regularly. Use shoe trees that are specially designed for your type of shoe to help shoes keep their shape. If shoes are very stiff or difficult to put on, use a shoehorn to prevent wear on the back of the shoe.

Cleaning & Polishing
  1. Remove dirt and grime with a leather cleaner intended for smooth leather shoes, or saddle soap. Use a soft cloth to clean with.
  2. Let shoes air dry completely.
  3. Conditioning your shoes protects them from drying and cracking. To keep them soft and smooth, rub in a commercial shoe conditioner after each cleaning.
  4. To polish leather shoes, first decide what kind of polish you want to use. Commercial shoe polishes, which can be purchased at shoe stores or online, come in liquid, cream, and paste form. Or try an at-home alternative such as walnut oil, olive oil, or the inside of a banana peel.
  5. If you use traditional shoe polish, read and follow the instructions carefully. Some commercial polishes contain toxic chemicals and can cause unpleasant side effects when used. Wear gloves when using, and dispose of polish rags safely.
  6. Always test polish or oil in a small spot first.
  7. If your polish does not have its own applicator (or if using an at-home alternative) wrap two fingers in a soft cloth and dip it in the polish.
  8. Rub polish or oil into shoe in small, circular motions.
  9. Make sure the entire shoe has been covered, but do not over-polish.
  10. When shoes are dry, buff with a clean soft cloth. Hold it taut with both hands and slide it quickly back and forth over the toe of the shoe, then fold cloth and use one hand to rub the sides.
Suede and nubuck leather
  1. Get a special suede cleaning brush to clean with. Use short strokes in the same direction—not back and forth or circular—to buff away scuff marks and raise the nap.
  2. If the brush isn't getting the dirt out, try a pencil eraser.
  3. To remove water stains, use a small, soft paintbrush to moisten the entire outside of the shoe. Blot excess water with a towel or sponge and air dry overnight with shoe trees inside. Use the suede brush to restore the nap when completely dry.
  4. Give shoes a light coat of protecting spray after each cleaning.
Athletic sneakers
Athletic shoes undergo a lot of wear and tear, but regular cleanings can help them last longer. Most are constructed from many different materials, so use an all-purpose shoe cleaner or one that is recommended by the manufacturer. If you don't have any on hand, mix up a solution of a mild detergent, like Ivory Snow, and warm water.
  1. Use an old toothbrush or towel to rub off dried dirt or other debris on the shoes.
  2. Using an old toothbrush, scrub the shoes with the cleaner or soap solution in small circular motions.
  3. For leather areas, follow directions for smooth leather shoes.
  4. When shoes are clean and dry, cover with a light coat of a waterproofing spray.

Canvas sneakers
Prevent stains on new canvas shoes by spraying them with Scotchgard or similar fabric protector. Basic canvas sneakers (such as Converse All-Stars or Keds) can be machine washed. However, if they are only soiled in a few places, or if they are very precious to you, hand washing is a better option.

Machine washing
  1. If they are crusty and covered in dirt, chip off as much as possible so you don't end up giving them a mud bath instead of a wash. If they are really soiled, hose them off outside.
  2. Spot-treat any stains with a solution of warm water and gentle detergent, such as Ivory Snow. Use an old toothbrush to scrub stains away.
  3. Remove laces, inserts, and any other removable parts before washing. If the laces are very dirty, throw them in with a regular load of clothes.
  4. Wash on delicate with a gentle detergent. Use cold water—hot could melt the rubber and/or adhesive in the shoes.
  5. Throw in a couple bath towels to balance the load.
  6. If the sneakers are white, add ½ cup vinegar or lemon juice in with the regular amount of detergent to help restore their brightness. Do not use bleach—it may react with the canvas and turn it yellow.
  7. Air dry in the sun or tumble dry on low heat.
Hand washing
  1. Chip off any dried or crusty material on the shoes.
  2. Remove laces, inserts, and any other removable parts.
  3. Mix a solution of gentle detergent, such as Ivory Snow, and warm water. Use a terrycloth towel dipped in this solution to clean the smooth rubber parts and soles of the shoes.
  4. Using the same solution, go over every inch of each shoe with an old toothbrush.
  5. Blot away water and detergent as you go with another clean, dry towel.
  6. Use a damp towel to rinse the canvas.
  7. If the shoes are white, dip the toothbrush in white vinegar and lemon juice and scrub it again. Do not use bleach—it may react with the canvas and turn yellow.
  8. Air dry in the sun or tumble dry on low heat.

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Stain removal

With the right tools and methods, most stains can be removed from washable clothes. When a spill or stain happens, blot—do not rub—with a clean towel right away. If the garment is dry clean-only, then take it to a dry cleaner—do Make sure you point the stain out to your cleaner and tell them what it is so they can treat it properly. For machine-washable items, try treating the stain yourself, but always use caution. If a stain is severe or you are afraid of ruining the item, take it to a cleaner.

For all stains:
  • Always read care label instructions before attempting to remove the stain.
  • Scrape off dried or crusty matter with a dull knife before treating the stain.
  • If the stain persists after treating and laundering, do not put the garment in the dryer—heat will permanently set the stain.
  • For colored garments, test stain-removal technique on a hidden area first to make sure it won't bleach or fade the fabric.
  • Read instructions on stain-remover packaging—make sure it is safe to use on the fabric.
  • If attempts to remove the stain do not work, take the garment to a dry cleaner.
Stain fighting tool kit
Keep these items in your laundry room so you're ready to treat any kind of stain, any time it happens. You probably already have most of them in your kitchen!
  • Gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow
  • Liquid detergent with bleach alternative, such as Tide with Bleach Alternative
  • Grease-fighting liquid dish soap, such as Dawn
  • Baking soda
  • Lemon juice
  • White vinegar
  • Glycerin
  • Salt
  • Dull knife or spoon
  • Old towels
  • Eyedropper
  • Plastic bucket

Beverages

Beer
For cotton and polyester: If stain is fresh, apply a liquid detergent with bleach alternative directly to the stain. Machine wash in warmest water safe for fabric. Do not use bar soap on beer stains, it will make them harder to remove. If stain is old, rinse in cold water. In a plastic bucket, mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent with color safe bleach or bleach alternative per 1 gallon of water. Soak garment for up to 30 minutes. Machine wash in warmest water safe for fabric.

For washable silk and wool: Mix one tablespoon of gentle liquid laundry detergent (such as Ivory Snow) with one cup of lukewarm water. Using a white towel, dab stain with solution. With an eyedropper, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water. If stain persists, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Coffee / Tea
For cotton and polyester: Using an eyedropper, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water. Rinse. If milk and/or sugar contributed to the stain, then apply small amount of liquid laundry detergent directly to stain. Soak the garment for up to 30 minutes in a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent per 1 gallon of lukewarm water in a plastic bucket. Machine wash according to care instructions. Air dry.

For washable silk and wool: Apply a small amount of a gentle detergent, such as Ivory Snow, and water directly to stain. Rub until suds form, then rinse. Using an eyedropper, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water. Rinse. If milk and/or sugar contributed to the stain, apply a commercial oil solvent (such as Carbona Stain Devil) and air dry.

Fruit juice / wine / sangria
For cotton and polyester: If stain is still damp, cover it with salt. Then stretch the fabric over a bowl and carefully pour boiling water over the stain from about one foot above it. If stain has dried, rinse garment in cold water. Soak the garment for up to 30 minutes in a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent per 1 gallon of water in a plastic bucket. Machine wash in warm water. Air dry.

For washable silk and wool: Gently sponge on a mild laundry detergent. Using an eyedropper, apply a solution of one white vinegar to two parts water to the stain. Rinse with cold water.

Milk
For cotton and polyester: Rinse in cold water to dilute the stain. In a plastic bucket, mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent per 1 gallon of water. Soak garment for up to 30 minutes. Machine wash in warmest water safe for fabric.

For washable silk and wool: Mix one tablespoon of gentle liquid laundry detergent (such as Ivory Snow) with one cup of lukewarm water. Using a white towel, dab stain with solution. With an eyedropper, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water. If stain persists, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Soda/pop
For cotton and polyester: If stain is fresh, apply a liquid detergent with bleach alternative directly to the stain. Machine wash in warmest water safe for fabric. Do not use bar soap on soda stains, it will make them harder to remove. If stain is old, rinse in cold water. In a plastic bucket, mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent with color safe bleach or bleach alternative per 1 gallon of water. Soak garment for up to 30 minutes. Machine wash in warmest water safe for fabric.

For washable silk and wool: Mix one tablespoon of gentle liquid laundry detergent (such as Ivory Snow) with one cup of lukewarm water. Using a white towel, dab stain with solution. With an eyedropper, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water. If stain persists, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Condiments

Barbeque sauce
For cotton and polyester: Scrape off dried residue with a dull knife. Apply glycerin to stain and let sit 10 minutes. Rinse with cool water. Apply a commercial stain remover that is safe for the fabric and let sit 15 minutes. Machine wash according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool: Scrape off dried residue with a dull knife. Apply glycerin to stain and let sit 10 minutes. Rinse with cool water. Treat with a gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow, and a small amount of water. Rub gently to form suds, then flush with cool water.

Butter / margarine
For cotton and polyester: Pre-treat stain with liquid laundry detergent. Let sit for 5 minutes. Machine wash according to garment care label. If stain persists, place garment stain side down on a towel. Apply a commercial grease-remover, such as Carbona Stain Devil, to the back of stain. Residue will bleed through onto towel. Air dry and machine wash again.

For washable silk and wool: Treat with a gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow, and let sit for 5 minutes. Apply a small amount of water and rub gently to form suds. Flush with cool water. If stain persists, apply a small amount of liquid dish soap, such as Dawn. Let sit 5 minutes and flush with cool water again. If stain is still present, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Ketchup / tomato sauce
For cotton and polyester: Pre-treat stain with a commercial stain remover that is safe for the fabric, or a small amount of liquid laundry detergent. Using an eye dropper, apply a half-vinegar, half-water solution to bleach any remaining stain. Machine wash according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool: Same as cotton and polyester.

Mayonnaise
For cotton and polyester: Pre-treat stain with liquid laundry detergent. Let sit for 5 minutes. Machine wash according to garment care label. If stain persists, place garment stain side down on a towel. Apply a commercial grease-remover, such as Carbona Stain Devil, to the back of stain. Residue will bleed through onto towel. Air dry and machine wash again.

For washable silk and wool: Treat with a gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow, and let sit for 5 minutes. Apply a small amount of water and rub gently to form suds. Flush with cool water. If stain persists, apply a small amount of liquid dish soap, such as Dawn. Let sit 5 minutes and flush with cool water again. If stain is still present, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Mustard
For cotton and polyester: Pre-treat stain with liquid laundry detergent. Let sit for 30 minutes. Machine wash according to garment care label. If stain remains, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water with an eyedropper. Mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent per 1 gallon of water in a plastic bucket. Soak garment for 30 minutes. Machine wash again.

For washable silk and wool: Using an eyedropper, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water. Apply a commercial stain remover that is safe for the fabric and let sit 15 minutes. Flush spot with cool water. If stain persists, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Salad Dressing
For cotton and polyester: If stain is fresh, pour on talcum powder or cornstarch to soak up as much oil as possible. Brush or shake off excess. Place garment stain-side down onto a towel. Apply a stain remover designed for grease and oil, such as Carbona Stain Devil, according to package instructions. Machine wash according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool: Same as cotton and polyester, but take item to a dry cleaner if stain persists.

Salsa
For cotton and polyester: Pre-treat stain with liquid laundry detergent. Let sit 5 minutes. Machine wash with color-safe bleach in warmest water safe for fabric. Repeat if stain persists.

For washable silk and wool: Pre-treat stain with a gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow. Let sit 5 minutes. Flush stain with cool water. If stain persists, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water with an eyedropper. Flush with water again. If stain is still visible, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Food

Baby food
For cotton and polyester: Scrape off any dried food with a dull knife. Rinse garment in cold water to dilute the stain. Mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent per 1 gallon of water in a plastic bucket. Soak garment for 30 minutes. Machine wash in warmest water safe for fabric. Repeat if necessary.

For washable silk and wool: Scrape off any dried food with a dull knife. Apply a small amount of gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow, to stain and let sit 5 minutes. Apply a small amount of water and rub gently to form suds. Flush with cool water. If stain persists, take the garment to a professional.

Baby formula
For cotton and polyester: Mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent per 1 gallon of water in a plastic bucket. Soak garment for 30 minutes. Machine wash in warmest water safe for fabric. Air dry. If stain persists, apply a liquid rust remover according to package instructions. Rinse in a solution of 3 tablespoons baking soda per one quart of water. Machine wash again.

For washable silk and wool: Pre-treat stain with a gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow. Let sit 5 minutes. Flush stain with cool water. If stain persists, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Candy / sugary stains
For cotton and polyester: Rinse the garment in warm water to dissolve hardened residue. Pre-treat with liquid laundry detergent or stain remover. Machine wash according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool: Blot stain with a gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow, and warm water. Flush stain with warm water. With an eyedropper, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water. Blot with detergent and water again. Flush with warm water again. Air dry.

Chocolate
For cotton and polyester: Scrape off any hardened lumps with a dull knife. For washable items, pre-treat stain with a solution of one tablespoon of liquid laundry detergent per two cups of water. Let sit for 20 minutes, then rinse. Machine wash according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool: Use a solution of gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow, and water to remove residue. Take item to a dry cleaner if stain remains.

Cheese / dairy
For cotton and polyester: Rinse in cold water to dilute the stain. In a plastic bucket, mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent per 1 gallon of water. Soak garment for up to 30 minutes. Machine wash in warmest water safe for fabric.

For washable silk and wool: Mix one tablespoon of gentle liquid laundry detergent (such as Ivory Snow) with one cup of lukewarm water. Using a white towel, dab stain with solution. With an eyedropper, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water. If stain persists, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Egg
For cotton and polyester: Scrape off any dry crusted matter with a dull knife. Rinse in cold water to dilute the stain. In a plastic bucket, mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent with bleach alternative per 1 gallon of cold water. Soak garment for up to 30 minutes. Machine wash with bleach alternative according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool: Scrape off any dry crusted matter with a dull knife. Mix one tablespoon of gentle liquid laundry detergent (such as Ivory Snow) with one cup of cold water. Using a white towel, dab stain with solution. If stain persists, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Fruit / berries
For cotton and polyester: Rinse garment in cold water to dilute the stain. Stretch fabric over a bowl and carefully pour hot or boiling water over the stain from a height of about one foot. If stain persists, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water with an eyedropper. Let sit for 10 minutes. Treat with a commercial stain remover that is safe for the fabric. Machine wash according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool: Flush stain with cool water. Apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water with an eyedropper. Then apply a gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow, and a small amount of water. Rub until suds form. Flush with water again to remove detergent. If stain persists, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Gravy
For cotton and polyester: Scrape off any excess with a dull knife. Apply liquid detergent with bleach alternative to the stain. Let sit 10-30 minutes depending on severity of stain. Rinse with cool water. Treat with a commercial stain remover designed for greasy stains, such as Carbona Stain Devil. Machine wash according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool: Scrape off any excess with a dull knife. Mix one tablespoon of gentle liquid laundry detergent (such as Ivory Snow) with one cup of cold water. Using a white towel, dab stain with solution. Flush with cool water.

Grease (kitchen or food)
For cotton and polyester: Pre-treat stain with grease-fighting liquid dish soap, such as Dawn. Let sit for 10 minutes. Machine wash with 1 cup baking soda along with regular detergent. If stain persists, place garment stain-side down on a towel. Apply a grease remover, such as Carbona Stain Devil, to the back of the stain. Grease will bleed through onto towel. Machine wash as usual.

For washable silk and wool: Apply a small amount of grease-fighting liquid dish soap, such as Dawn. Let sit for 10 minutes. Blot with damp towel to remove residue. Apply a grease-remover, such as Carbona Stain Devil, according to package instructions.

Gum
For cotton and polyester: Apply ice or put garment in the freezer to harden the gum. Using a dull knife, carefully scrape off as much as possible. Place garment stain-side down on a towel and apply a specialty remover designed for gum, such as Carbona Stain Devil. If stain remover is not available, apply a dab of creamy peanut butter to the stain. Rinse and machine wash according to garment care label. Repeat steps as necessary. If colored residue (but no gum or peanut butter) remains, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water to stained area. Rinse and machine wash again.

For washable silk and wool: Apply ice or put garment in the freezer to harden the gum. Using a dull knife, carefully scrape off as much as possible. Place garment stain-side down on a towel and apply a specialty remover designed for gum, such as Carbona Stain Devil. If stain persists, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Ice cream
For cotton and polyester: Rinse in cold water to dilute the stain. In a plastic bucket, mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent per 1 gallon of water. Soak garment for up to 30 minutes. Machine wash in warmest water safe for fabric.

For washable silk and wool: Mix one tablespoon of gentle liquid laundry detergent (such as Ivory Snow) with one cup of lukewarm water. Using a white towel, dab stain with solution. With an eyedropper, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water. If stain persists, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Oil (vegetable or cooking)
For cotton and polyester: If stain is fresh, pour on talcum powder or cornstarch to soak up as much oil as possible. Brush or shake off excess. Place garment stain-side down onto a towel. Apply a stain remover designed for grease and oil, such as Carbona Stain Devil, according to package instructions. Machine wash according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool: Same as cotton and polyester, but take garment to a dry cleaner if stain remains.

Pudding
For cotton and polyester: With a dull knife, scrape off any dried residue. Pre-treat stain with liquid laundry detergent. Machine wash according to garment care label. If stain persists, mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent per 1 gallon of water in a plastic bucket. Soak garment for up to 30 minutes. Machine wash again.

For washable silk and wool: With a dull knife, scrape off any dried residue. Place the garment stain-side down on a towel. Apply a commercial stain remover that is safe for the fabric to the back of the stain. If stain persists, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Outdoors

Grass
For cotton and polyester: Pre-treat stain with liquid laundry detergent. In a plastic bucket, mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent per 1 gallon of water. Soak garment for up to 30 minutes. Machine wash according to garment care label. If stain persists, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water. Rinse and machine wash again.

For washable silk and wool: Pre-treat stain with a commercial stain remover that is safe for the fabric. Let sit 15 minutes. Flush stain with cold water. Using an eyedropper, apply a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water. Flush with cold water again.

Mud / dirt
For cotton and polyester: Scrape off dried matter with a dull knife or soft bristle brush. Apply liquid laundry detergent. Rub with a little bit of water to form suds. Rinse with cool water. Apply a half vinegar, half water mixture. Machine wash according to garment care instructions.

For washable silk and wool: Scrape off dried matter with a dull knife or soft bristle brush. Mix one tablespoon of liquid dish soap, such as Dawn, and one cup water. Use an eyedropper to apply the mixture to the stained area. Flush with cold water.

Red clay
For cotton and polyester: Scrape off encrusted clay with a dull knife. Apply a liquid dish soap, such as Dawn, to the stain and let it sit overnight. Machine wash according to garment care label. If stain persists, apply color safe bleach or rubbing alcohol to the stained area. Machine wash again.

For washable silk and wool: Scrape off encrusted clay with a dull knife. Flush stain with cool water. Rub glycerin into the stain and let sit for 2-8 hours. Flush with cool water again. If stain remains, take garment to a professional.

Tree sap
For cotton and polyester: Scrape off large globs with a dull knife. Rub in glycerin and let sit until remaining sap has softened. Place garment stain-side down on a towel and tap to loosen sap. Rinse. If stain persists, apply commercial stain remover appropriate for the fabric. Machine wash.

For washable silk and wool: Same as cotton and polyester, but take garment to a dry cleaner if stain remains after treating.

Personal care

Blood (dried)
For cotton and polyester: Soak garment in cool saltwater for a few hours. Rinse thoroughly. Mix one tablespoon of ammonia with ½ cup water. Apply solution to stain. Machine wash according to garment care label. If stain remains, mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent per 1 gallon of water in a plastic bucket. Soak garment for up to 30 minutes. Rinse and machine wash again.

For washable silk and wool: Dab cold salt water onto stain. Flush with plain cold water. Use an eyedropper to apply a half-vinegar, half-water solution. Flush with cold water again. If stain remains, take garment to a dry cleaner.

Blood (wet)
For cotton and polyester: Flush the stain with cold water. Pre-treat spot with an enzyme treatment, such as Era Plus. Let sit for 30 minutes. Machine wash according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool: Flush the stain with cold water. Use an eyedropper to apply a half-vinegar, half-water solution. Flush with cold water again. If stain remains, take garment to a dry cleaner.

Deodorant
For cotton and polyester: Brush off flakes and residue with a soft bristle brush or dry terrycloth towel. Pre-treat with liquid detergent and let sit for 30 minutes. Machine wash with double the recommended amount of detergent in the hottest water safe for the fabric. Air dry and repeat if necessary.

For washable silk and wool: Brush off flakes and residue with a soft bristle brush or dry terrycloth towel. Apply a half-vinegar half-water solution with an eyedropper. Flush with cool water. If stain persists, take garment to a dry cleaner.

Feces
For cotton and polyester: Rinse thoroughly with cold water. In a plastic bucket, mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent with color safe bleach or bleach alternative per 1 gallon of water. Soak garment for up to 30 minutes. Machine wash according to garment care label. If stain remains, apply a half-vinegar half-water solution. Rinse and machine wash again.

For washable silk and wool: Flush stained area with cold water. Treat with a gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow, and let sit 10 minutes. Apply water and rub until suds form. Flush with cold water again. Use an eyedropper to apply a half-vinegar, half-water solution. Flush with cold water again. If stain remains, take garment to a dry cleaner.

Hair dye
For : Stretch fabric over a bowl. Mix one cup of household ammonia with one gallon warm water and pour over stain. If stain remains, let sit for 30 minutes – 4 hours. Rinse in warm running water. Machine wash in warm water. Air dry and repeat steps if necessary. This stain may be permanent.

For washable silk and wool: Take garment to a dry cleaner; this stain may be permanent.

Lipstick
For cotton and polyester: Scrape off any excess with a dull knife. Place garment stain-side down on a towel. Apply commercial stain remover specialized for oils, such as Carbona Stain Devil. Lipstick will bleed through onto towel. If stain remains, pre-treat with liquid laundry detergent. Rub in with water until suds form. Rinse thoroughly. Use an eyedropper to apply a half-vinegar, half-water solution. Machine wash according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool: Same as for cotton and polyester, but air dry and take garment to a dry cleaner if stain remains.

Mascara
For cotton and polyester: Apply makeup remover recommended by the manufacturer. If stain persists, dampen spot and rub with a bar of soap. Machine wash according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool: Same as for cotton and polyester, but air dry and take garment to a professional if stain remains.

Perspiration
For cotton and polyester: Pre-treat with liquid laundry detergent. Machine wash according to garment care label. If stain persists, apply a half-vinegar half-water solution. Mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent per 1 gallon of water in a plastic bucket. Soak garment for up to 30 minutes. Machine wash again in hottest water safe for fabric.

For washable silk and wool: Using an eyedropper, apply a half-vinegar half-water solution to the stain. Let sit 10 minutes. Flush with water. Repeat as necessary. Take garment to a dry cleaner if stain persists.

Sunscreen
For cotton and polyester: Apply spot remover to the stain according to package instructions. Pre-treat with liquid dish soap, such as Dawn. Machine wash according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool: Same as cotton and polyester, but air dry and take garment to a dry cleaner if stain persists.

Urine
For cotton and polyester: Rinse in cold water to dilute the stain. Mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent with bleach alternative per 1 gallon of water in a plastic bucket. Soak garment for up to 30 minutes. Machine wash with bleach alternative and 1 cup of baking soda in warm water.

For washable silk and wool: Flush stain with cool water. Treat with a gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow, and let sit for 10 minutes. Apply small amount of water and rub until suds form. Flush with water again. Take garment to a dry cleaner if stain remains.

Vomit
For cotton and polyester: Rinse in cold water to dilute the stain. Mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent with bleach alternative per 1 gallon of water in a plastic bucket. Soak garment for up to 30 minutes. Machine wash with bleach alternative and 1 cup of baking soda in warm water.

For washable silk and wool: Flush stain with cool water. Treat with gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow, and let sit for 10 minutes. Apply small amount of water and rub until suds form. Flush with water again. Take garment to a dry cleaner if stain remains.

House and Home

Ballpoint pen / ink
For cotton and polyester: Apply glycerin to stain and let sit 10 minutes, then treat with gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow, and water. Rub until suds form, then rinse. Machine wash in warm water.

For washable silk and wool: Same as cotton and polyester, but do not rinse—dab water until suds are gone. Take to a dry cleaner if stain remains.

Candle Wax
For cotton and polyester: Scrape off hardened wax with a dull knife. Stretch fabric over a bowl. Carefully pour boiling or very hot water over the stain from a height of about one foot. Air dry. If stain remains, place garment stain-side down on an old towel. Place another towel on top. Gently press a warm—not hot—iron over the towel. Wax residue should melt and transfer to bottom towel.

For washable silk and wool: Scrape off hardened wax with a dull knife. Place garment stain-side down on an old towel. Place another towel on top. Gently press a warm—not hot—iron over the towel. Wax residue should melt and transfer to bottom towel.

Chalk
For cotton and polyester: Shake or gently vacuum garment to remove loose particles and chalk dust. Place garment stain-side down on an old towel or paper towels. Gently dab rubbing alcohol on the back of the stain. Chalk residue should transfer onto bottom towel. If stain persists, pre-treat with liquid dish soap (such as Dawn) and machine wash according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool: Shake or gently vacuum garment to remove loose particles and chalk dust. Apply a gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow, and let sit 10 minutes. Apply small amount of water and rub until suds form. Flush with cool water and air dry. If stain persists, take garment to a dry cleaner.

Crayon
For cotton and polyester: Place the garment stain-side down on a towel. Spray the back of the stain with WD-40. After five minutes, flip over and spray front of stain. Rinse in cold water. Rub liquid dish soap, such as Dawn, into stain and rinse again. If stain persists, apply a commercial stain-remover appropriate for the fabric. Machine wash with ½ cup baking soda along with usual detergent.

For washable silk and wool: Do not attempt to clean at home. Take to a dry cleaner.

Gasoline
For cotton and polyester: Do not put items stained with gasoline or other flammable materials into a washing machine. Check washing machine warning labels (usually located inside the lid) for instructions specific for your washing machine. If stain is still wet, cover with baking soda to absorb moisture and odor. Brush off excess. Rinse the garment in cold water to dilute the stain. Rub liquid dish soap, such as Dawn, into the stain. Mix a solution of ½ cup liquid laundry detergent with bleach alternative per 1 gallon of water in a plastic bucket. Add 1 cup baking soda to neutralize odors. Soak garment for 30 minutes. Discard solution appropriately, as you would gasoline. Rinse garment again in warm water. If stain and/or odor remains, hand wash in warm water with liquid laundry detergent and baking soda.

For washable silk and wool: If stain is still wet, cover with baking soda to absorb moisture and odor. Brush off excess. Flush stain with cold water. Apply liquid dish soap, such as Dawn, and let sit for 10 minutes. Flush with water again. If stain does not begin to fade, take garment to a dry cleaner.

Glue
For cotton and polyester: Using a dull knife, scrape off dried glue. Use glycerin to loosen up remaining residue and scrape off. Rub liquid dish soap, such as Dawn, into any remaining stain and machine wash.

For washable silk and wool: Same as for cotton and polyester, but take to a dry cleaner if stain remains.

Grease (automotive)
For cotton and polyester: If stain is still wet, cover with baking soda to soak up moisture. Brush off. Rub in liquid dish soap, such as Dawn. Machine wash using half the recommended measurement of detergent, and half liquid dish soap (such as Dawn). Repeat steps as necessary. Add more baking soda to neutralize any odor.

For washable silk and wool: If stain is still wet, cover with baking soda to soak up moisture. Brush off. Rub in liquid dish soap such as Dawn. Let sit 10 minutes. Flush with cool water. Take garment to a professional if stain persists.

Mildew
For cotton and polyester: Make a paste of lemon juice and salt. Be careful—this may cause discoloration on some fabrics. Cover stain with paste and let sit 15-30 minutes. Rinse. Machine wash according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool: Using an eyedropper, apply a half-vinegar half-water solution to the stain. Let sit 10 minutes. Flush with water. Take garment to a dry cleaner to completely remove stain.

Paint (oil-based)
For cotton and polyester: Apply turpentine and blot with towel to absorb residue. Flush with water. Rub in liquid dish soap, such as Dawn, and let sit 10 minutes. Machine wash according to garment care label. Repeat as necessary.

For washable silk and wool: Apply small amount of liquid dish soap to the stain. Let sit 10-15 minutes. Scrape off paint flakes and soap with dull knife or fingernail. Flush with water. If stain does not begin to fade, take garment to a dry cleaner.

Paint (water-based and acrylic)
For cotton and polyester: Gently apply laundry detergent and warm water to stained area with a sponge. When paint has softened, scrape off with a dull knife. Rinse and repeat as necessary, then machine wash according to garment label.

For washable silk and wool: Same as for washables, but do not machine wash—air dry. If stain persists, take garment to a dry cleaner.

Pencil
For cotton and polyester: Pre-treat stain with liquid laundry detergent. Machine wash according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool: Apply small amount of gentle liquid laundry detergent, such as Ivory Snow. Let sit 10-15 minutes. Apply small amount of water and run gently until suds form. Flush area with cool water. Take to a dry cleaner if stain remains.

Rubber cement
For cotton and polyester: Rub off as much as possible with fingers. Apply small amount of paint thinner to stain. Let sit 30 minutes. Pre-treat with liquid laundry detergent. Machine wash according to garment care label.

For washable silk and wool items: Rub off as much as possible with fingers and take garment to a dry cleaner.

Soot
For cotton and polyester: Shake off excess soot—do not rub. Pre-treat with liquid laundry detergent with bleach alternative. Machine wash in warmest water safe for fabric with water conditioner and detergent with bleach alternative.

For washable silk and wool: Do not attempt to clean at home – take garment to a dery cleaner.

Suit Care

A crisp, clean, and professional looking suit sends an important message to others. Keep your suit looking great in between regular dry cleanings with these tips

  • Use a garment brush to remove lint and keep the fabric looking fresh
  • Hang on wide wooden or padded hangers to help the suit jacket keep its shape
  • Do not store in plastic garment bags—over time, the plastic breaks down and give off fumes that damage fabric
  • Give it room to breathe—don't cram it into an overly full closet.
  • If you wear a belt, take it out when hanging the suit pants. Even if you are going to wear them again the next day, leaving the belt hanging in the loops weakens the fabric.
  • Consider investing in a steamer to remove wrinkles at home. Always read garment care labels—not all suits are safe to iron.
  • Have suits dry cleaned in GreenEarth every 2-3 wearings to prevent oil and dirt buildup around the collar and cuffs, remove wrinkles, and refresh the fabric.

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Sweater care

Keep your sweaters looking good and lasting longer with these care tips:

  • Carefully fold your sweaters, don't hang them or smoosh into a drawer.
  • Use a soft bristle brush to remove fuzz, hair and lint.
  • Follow washing instructions, paying attention to the tag instructions about whether to wash in cold water. Air dry thoroughly before folding.
  • If a sweater has lost its shape, dry cleaning is a good way to bring it back into shape. If you want to repair it yourself, and it is a cotton sweater, soak it with water and pad the areas you'd like reshaped then dry flat. With wool sweaters, the best choice to bring loose areas back into shape is steam finishing. Acrylic fibers are trickier and may not be restorable.
  • Always clean sweaters before storing them for the season. This is important because insects like to feed on the food and beverage stains, which will weakens or cut the surface fibers and could leave a hole or create small veins or trails across the surface. You can further protect sweaters with all-natural mothballs.
  • Habitually wearing a coat over your sweater or a rougher fabric under it can create friction that will decrease the lifespan of your sweater.

How to handwash sweaters:

  • Turn your sweater inside out. This protects the outside surface fibers from pulling.
  • Fill the sink with water (follow care instructions regarding temperature), add a small amount of a good quality detergent and mix it in slightly being careful to avoid creating foam suds. DO NOT use chlorine bleach on wool because it breaks down the fiber.
  • Gently push the sweater down into water and then let it soak for 20 minutes; do not kneed or agitate. Wool fibers are especially likely to permanently stretch if you over work the fibers; time is all you need to allow the water and detergent to penetrate and remove dirt and oils.
  • Rinse with tap water until no bubbles are left, being careful to hold and support the sweater from underneath as you lift it, rather than pulling it up, to prevent stretching. Repeat process. Let the sweater drain for a few minutes and remove gently lay to lay flat on a towel.
  • Roll the towel, and then press the rolled towel, being careful to avoid wringing or rubbing the wet sweater. If excess water remains, carefully blot with a second towel being careful not to rub.
  • Lay face up on a dry towel and block or shape the sweater gently back into its original shape: pull together the waist and wrist ribbing, button cardigan buttons closed, roll collars into position, and straighten the sleeves.
  • Let dry overnight. In the morning, turn it over and block the other side; let dry.

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Table linens

Cleaning up after a holiday feast can be especially hard on table linens. Follow this tips to keep yours looking good year after year.

  • Timely stain removal is important. Take your linens to your dry cleaner as soon as possible.
  • Candle wax: gently lift off larger pieces. Wash in the hottest water safe for the fabric.
  • Wine and coffee stains: lightly touch with absorbent towel to draw up excess liquid, or put paper towels underneath the spill; do not blot as it can spread the stain. After dinner, rinse in cool water, treat with a mild detergent and white vinegar.
  • Salad oil stains: cover a big spill at the table with absorbent powder; after dinner shake off and apply a mild detergent mixed with household ammonia ASAP. Wait 5-10 minutes and wash in the hottest water safe for the fabric.
  • Cranberry stains: Rinse with cool water and treat with a mild detergent and white vinegar before washing.

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Tailoring Tips

Having old favorites tailored is a great way to extend the life of your wardrobe. Here are the basic rules of thumb:

Pant cuffs should hit just slightly above the shoe; width of cuff should be about 1 ½" wide.

Suit jacket sleeves should hit just at your wrist bone and allow about ¼" of your shirt or blouse cuff to show.

Skirt hemlines are a matter of personal choice, but the most flattering length is just above or below the knee, at the bottom of your calf or at the ankle.
Waist bands should allow enough room for two fingers.

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UGGs

UGG™ Australia sells Water & Stain Repellent and Cleaner & Conditioner to help to prevent and/or remove/reduce stains. If your UGGs are starting to look a little ugly, dry cleaning is the safest and most effective way to clean spots and stains from your UGGs, renew the essential oils to the skins and make the fleece lining look and feel soft again. If you feel comfortable cleaning them at home, follow these steps to hand wash them:

Moisten sheepskin with clean, cold water; be sure to wet entire boot to avoid visible water lines.

Dilute the Cleaner & Conditioner product half and half with water and apply a small amount of diluted Cleaner & Conditioner to a clean wet sponge. It is important NOT to apply Cleaner & Conditioner directly onto UGGs (this could damage the sheepskin).

Gently scrub the whole boot. The delicate surface of sheepskin can be damaged by overly aggressive scrubbing.

Rinse clean with clean, cold water and wring out excess. Stuff boots lightly with paper towels (to hold shape) and air-dry naturally. DO NOT use a hair drier, dry near a heat vent or dry in direct sunlight.

Once your UGGs are dry, lightly brush with a soft suede/nubuck brush; brush in one direction only.

To deodorize and help soften the inside of your UGGS, use a mixture of 2 tsp. baking soda and 2 tsp. corn flour to deodorize and soften the inside of the boots. To add a scent, you can also add a few drops of an essential oil. Shake this mixture into your boots and let them stand overnight. Next day, shake out the excess out the next day.

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Wedding Gowns

For many women, a wedding gown is the most important clothing purchase of their lifetime. It is an investment that should be preserved with the best cleaning and storing methods available. No one wants to take chances with something as precious as a wedding gown. These are our expert tips on how to care for your gown so that it stays in perfect condition for years to come.

Cleaning
Check garment care labels or any instructions that came with your gown and follow the instructions for best results. Most will recommend dry cleaning or professional wet-cleaning. Unlike traditional dry cleaning, which uses perchloroethylene, GreenEarth solvent will not damage the intricate beadwork, sequins, lace and embroidery commonly found on wedding gowns, and won't dissolve glue that attaches embellishments to gowns. It won't shrink your gown or leave it with a funky odor. Cleaning with GreenEarth is like giving your gown a mineral bath—it will come out softer and brighter, with all special trims and details intact.

Always have your gown cleaned before putting it in storage. Check your gown for any visible stains, including graying of the hem where it touched the ground, and point them out to your dry cleaner. Stains from seemingly clear substances like body oils, perspiration, white wine and sugary substances may not appear for some time. Once these have a chance to oxidize, they may show up as light brown or yellow splotches that are difficult to remove. Have your gown cleaned soon after your wedding to prevent these kinds of surprises.

Storing

After your gown is cleaned, it is important to store in a manner that will preserve it safely. First decide if you want store your gown hanging or folded. If your gown is strapless, has very thin straps, or is very heavy, folding may be a better choice because hanging will put a lot of stress on the fabric holding it up. However, if your dress is very thin or of especially delicate material (such as antique lace or silk), you should hang it to eliminate the risk of permanent creasing from folding.

It is best to have your gown stored and preserved by professionals, such as Prestige Preservation. If you choose to take care of your gown yourself, here are some tips on how to store it safely.

Hanging storage

  • Plastic garment bags are a definite "don't"—they give off undetectable fumes that can severely weaken and damage the garment fibers.
  • It is essential that the gown be allowed to breathe, so that mold and mildew don't have a chance to grow.
  • Purchase a special preservation bag, available at many specialty shops, or use a plain white cotton sheet that has been thoroughly washed.
  • Cut a hole in the sheet so there is a place for the hanger to go through.
  • Use a very wide padded hanger to help the gown keep its shape.
  • If you don't have a padded hanger, make your own by wrapping a white cotton sheet around a sturdy hanger.
  • Hang your gown in a dry, dark place in the main living area of your home, not the attic, basement, or garage. Textiles are very sensitive to changes in heat and humidity.
  • Take your gown out every 2 years or so to let it air out and inspect it to be sure nothing has happened to it in storage.

Box storage

  • Use only an acid-free box with acid-free tissue paper. Regular cardboard and tissue break down over time, damaging fabrics.
  • Select a box that is large enough. Cramming your gown into a too-small box or folding it too many times can cause permanent creasing and weaken the fabric.
  • Wrap your gown entirely in acid-free tissue before folding. Ensure that none of the fabric touches itself.
  • Line box with tissue before placing the gown inside.
  • Do not seal the box—many wedding preservation services permanently seal boxes for storage in order to keep air and dust out. But if you want to prevent permanent creases, or if you just want to take your gown out and admire it occasionally, make sure the box lid is removable.
  • Store your boxed gown in a dry, dark place in the main living area of your home, not the attic, basement, or garage. Textiles are very sensitive to changes in heat and humidity. Condensation can also develop in sealed boxes, creating mildew and mold growth. Make sure your gown has room to breathe.
  • Take your gown out of storage every 2 years or so and air it out.
  • Re-fold your gown differently than it was folded before so that permanent creases do not develop.

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