Beginners Guide to Maintaining Your Wardrobe

mens fashion
Peter Safford February 14, 2019 Fashion

You’re at the new Italian restaurant that opened recently, and the food is amazing. Time is flying by as you enjoy a few drinks. It takes some time, but you finally notice that stain on your shirt from the spaghetti sauce you had. What now?

On your way back home, the rain is pouring down sideways from the strong gusts of wind accompanying the storm. It’s a good thing you have your jacket on, but your pants have rainwater all over them. As your outside waiting for your Uber, a car splashes water on your new brown, leather boots too.

Finally, home. What’s this? You now have dog hair all over you. Man’s best friend added to the stockpile of dirtiness to your attire.

Time and time again you get dirty. A fact of life. Imagine the beating your wardrobe goes through every day. Doesn’t help if you don’t know how to operate a washing machine correctly. Most men don’t. A shame really.

The same goes for dry cleaning. Do you take your clothes to be dry cleaned or do you stuff your washer with different colors, pour on detergent, then shove it all in the dryer and hope for the best?

I am going to walk you through how to maintain your wardrobe. If you spent good money on your clothes, then you must take good care of them as well. Clothes last longer when properly cleaned. The labels on your clothes tell you exactly how to do that. Dry clean means dry clean only!

The clothes you buy matter.

Your clothes take the most abuse day in day out. They are subjected to sweat, dirt, and the world in general. High-quality fabrics are more resilient which is why you should consider spending the extra money up front. In the long run, you save more money by not buying as frequently. Cheaper clothes don’t fit as well and won’t last as long. In the end, you’ll buy more clothes going the inexpensive route.

Washer & Dryer

Technology has revolutionized our modern world. Imagine handwashing all your clothes, then playing the waiting game has you constantly keep an eye on your line drying clothes. It wasn’t until the early 1920’s when we started to use electric washing machines. From then on, the convenience of having a machine do all the manual work took over.

Almost 100 years later and we still make washing clothes difficult. Mixing colors, incorrect water temperatures, and inaccurately measured detergents are still problems we face in the modern age of technology.

Allow me to clear a few things up. First off, do not mix your colors. There’s a Simpsons episode where Bart puts his lucky red cap in with the family’s white clothes. Marge has the laundry basket on the table and Homer pulls out his white shirt – only to find it has turned pink!

Color bleeding happens when you don’t separate your clothes before washing. White clothes are a magnet for the dye of anything non-white. If you want to keep your white clothes white, then wash them separately in hot water.

Next is your light-colored clothes. Your gray, light blue, and anything else not dark. These are best washed in warm water.

Now onto the darker shades you own. Cold water. I understand it’s easier to lump all your clothes together and wash them all at once. But why risk dying your white clothes pink like Bart did for Homer?

Read the Labels

Have you read the manual to your washer? It’s full of useful information on what every button and dial does. Remember: Check your pockets and remove everything before washing. You could ruin that receipt you were saving or lose that number you wrote down on a sticky note. I am guilty of forgetting to remove the collar stays from my shirt collars. Don’t be like me; remove them.

Avoid overloading your washer. For the longest, I couldn’t understand why my clothes never were fully washed. I thought that adding more detergent or running the machine again was the answer. Turns out, I was filling my top-loading machine to the brim. Top-loading or front-loading are similar in that you must not overload. When in doubt, cut your load in half. Leaving wet clothes in the washer will give them a mildew scent. As soon as the washer is done, shake the clothes and gently stretch them out before putting in the dryer. This helps with preventing wrinkles and dries the clothes faster and evenly.

Detergent

Not all detergents are made the same. Most items on the shelf at stores are marketed better than others and the sticker price reflects that. However, detergent is not one of those items. Buying cheaper, bulk detergent does you no good unless you plan on washing a ton of dirty rags that will eventually be covered in filth all over again. Instead, buy better detergent. Not only will the scent last longer, but they’ll get the dirt and stains out better.

I recommend using Woolite Darks for your dark clothes. In my experience, having owned a lot of black shirts, using lower quality detergent tends to fade my clothes faster. I could own less black, but I don’t plan on that. I’ll spend the extra for a dedicated dark clothes detergent.

Measure according to your load size. Adding more detergent doesn’t make your clothes cleaner. In fact, adding too much can leave residue on your clothes and even prematurely wear down your washing machine because of excess detergent causing mold to grow.

For all your other clothes, non-dark, consider Tide Smart Pouches, they’re super concentrated so you can use less.

Dryer

Drying your clothes is simple. Kind of. If you thought there were too many steps when washing your clothes, wait till you get a load of this – see what I did there? Actually, drying is similar to washing: Read the labels, don’t overload, and remove promptly to prevent wrinkles.

If you didn’t add liquid fabric softener to your clothes while they were in the washer, now is the time to add a dryer sheet. They leave your clothes soft and stop static cling. My personal favorite is Bounce Outdoor Fresh, simply because I like the way they smell. If you prefer an unfragmented dryer sheet, you can go for the Bounce Unscented.

Remember to always check your lint trap before starting the dryer, especially if you live in a building with shared drying machines because you can’t trust your neighbors to clean out the trap for you. The dryer will perform better, but also prevent a potential fire. Lint is highly combustible.

Some labels will mention no heat at all or to air dry. Hang these on your shower rod if you don’t have a line outside. Take caution or you’ll have a shower rod come flying at your face. Speaking from experience. Wet clothes are heavy and shower rods are not built for heavy loads.

Dry Cleaners

Dry cleaning is a necessary evil. No one likes to make an extra trip to the cleaners, first to drop off then back to pick up the clothes. It’s the only way certain types of fabrics can be cleaned – wool being one of them. If the label says DRY CLEAN ONLY, they mean it. You run the risk of damaging the garment otherwise.

Dry cleaning uses fluids, other than water, to remove stains and soils from your clothes. Water isn’t always the best when removing stains. Let the professionals at your local, trusted dry cleaners handle those tough stains. Also, your clothes will last longer since they are not cleaned by agitation from home washing machines.

The good thing about dry cleaning businesses is how they wash the clothes and press them for you. Saves you time. Time being your most precious asset it makes sense to save some wherever you can.

Ironing

For the clothes you wash at home, unfortunately are the ones you have to press yourself. If you shook them before drying, and immediately removed from the dryer then you won’t have as much trouble getting those wrinkles out.

The iron you use makes a difference on whether you will get an even heat distribution and lower risk of ruining your clothes. Soleplates (the bottom metal part of an iron) are typically made of solid steel, titanium coated, and cast iron coated with aluminum. Inexpensive irons are not worth the money saved. They do not clean well nor heat correctly. I have ruined a good pair of shorts because I thought expensive irons were a waste of money. I would have saved myself from headaches trying to get wrinkles out of dress shirts if I had not bought an iron that wouldn’t heat up and stay heated.

I bought a Rowenta Everlast a few years and have never experienced an issue with it. Plus it looks like a futuristic spaceship, so that’s an added bonus!

Speaking of heat, once again refer to the label to know what materials your clothes are made of so you can set the right temperature. Don’t run the risk of scorching your clothes. The majority of what I iron is cotton – which means I have to double-check before I put a hot iron to my clothes because the dial isn’t always turned to the cotton setting. Make it habit to check the dial before you accidentally damage a garment.

Storing Your Clothes

What doesn’t need to be dry cleaned or ironed, fold it right out the dryer and store it away. Allowing clothes to cool inside the dryer sets in those wrinkles you’ll have trouble getting out. Most tee shirts can be folded and ironed later. Dress shirts you iron at home should be taken care of immediately.

Storing your clothes away from potential stains will save you trouble down the road. I made the mistake of throwing a pile of clothes on the couch to fold after I got something to drink. Carelessly walking with that drink in my hand I spilled a small amount on some of those clothes. There I am having to rewash them. Had I paid attention I wouldn’t have to put unnecessary stress on the fabric.

Storing your clothes in designated spots will keep you organized. You’ll know where everything is without wasting time trying to get an outfit together. Hate to say it, but don’t be lazy and be an adult. Folding and putting your clothes away is part of being an adult. As important, a man that won’t have someone nagging at them for being lazy.

You will get more life out of your clothes if you store them correctly. Don’t bunch them up and stuff them in a drawer. You’ll damage the fabric that way and you won’t ever know what’s in the drawer.

Clean and Pressed

As a man, it is your responsibility to care for your appearance. Don’t go out with a wrinkled shirt, even if it a graphic tee. In all my life, I can’t recall a time I’ve a wrinkle on my dad’s tee shirts. His clothes are never dirty or wrinkled. You know what? All my life I have seen him take 5 minutes out of his day to iron his clothes. Those 5 minutes make all the difference. Or take them to the cleaners. Either way, don’t leave the house looking like a slob.

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