Clothes Life

Reporter: Helen Wellings

Home Beautiful Editor, Wendy Moore knows the A to Z of caring for clothes at home, spot cleaning, washing, drying, ironing, storing. The most damaging thing .. OVER-treating."They don't need to be washed unless they're dirty, and that's actually going to extend the life. These are the kinds of products that when used properly are fantastic, but used to excess can actually reduce the life of your clothes"

So the first step in the beauty regime. Look for your clothes worst enemies .. spots and stains that don't get treated properly and immediately. "Don't put a blood stained item into a hot water wash because that will basically harden the stain and you won't be able to get it out. And make sure when you do use hot water, it's actually warm. It's not so hot that you can't put your hand in it for instance. Because that does, if you've got a stain it can actually harden the stain and it can also fade your clothes quicker"

Jim Hudson of the Drycleaning Industry Association, owner of Master Dry Cleaning, says this could have been good-as-new treated quickly, first with his favourite secret formula ... "Water and Sards Wonder Soap and then? And then of course dry cleaning" Dirty sleeves and collars are premature agers, "it should be cleaned properly or else it will caramelise and look yellow" Drycleaners spot-clean with gentle steam guns to preserve the fabric. Rubbing at stains chafes and discolours fibres .. and leaving a tissue in the wash at home. It "ages the fabric because it sticks to the fibres and you can't get it off completely especially on black garments ... There's a tissue left in there and it's remained in tact in the drycleaning process"

Before cleaning, always follow the compulsory care label. Remember, overloading the machine won't allow enough movement to release stains. Also choose quality detergents - cheapies can be too abrasive. "Garnments that are very delicate, its a good idea when washing them or dc them to put them in a net bag"

Most things, apart from sheets, can be machine-washed and well-rinsed in cold water to brighten, reduce fading and prolong life. But then clothesdryers can do the opposite ... "really convenient, but this is the fastest way to take years off your clothes. The heat, really, is quite harsh on the fabric, and the elastics lose all their shape, and they look old really quickly"

So, if possible line-dry, hanging garments so they hold their shape, but lie woollens flat. Back to the the third stage - conditioning. "This is fantastic if you want to give a real softness to your clothes, but you have to keep in mind that this is actually adding a residue or a film on the fabric, and that can actually have a residue buildup"

Ironing .. better too cool than too hot ..."because you could actually damage, burn or even melt the fibres. And if you want to be really careful, and you've got a particulary delicate fabric, actually go and get yourself a linen or a cotton cloth and put it between the fabric and the iron" Tossing clothes on the floor .. accelerates ageing. "It's literally a compost heap. You've got dirt, you've got moisture, you've got warmth and you've got natural fabrics here that are literally going to rot in this situation."

"Always hang your coats trousers dresses and skirts on proper hangers and make sure you don't bunch things together in the wardrobe. Allow some space for air circulation. And also insect proof your clothes" Wendy says "you want to be able to store your winter clothes in instance, in summer, try and get some storage bag that moves all of the air and all of the dust and particulary all the moisture out of the clothes when you store them because thats really going to retain the quality of the fabric"