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If you want to keep your clothes looking like new wash after wash, then proper laundering is vital. However, many people aren’t sure exactly what that entails and just assume dry cleaning is mandatory if you want like-new clothing months after you purchased it. The good news is, in most instances, dry cleaning is not a necessity. With a little bit of caution and a smidge of effort, you can make sure your clothing maintains its color, fit, and feel even after several washes.

Your Garment Comes with Care Instructions: Read Them

Every piece of clothing you purchase comes with the secret to keep it looking like new, and it comes in the form of the care label. However, many people don’t think to look at these specialized instructions and instead stick with a standard setting for everything they wash. If you take the time to read the label, you will see that it tells you what the recommended temperature and cycle setting is for both the washing machine and the dryer (if allowed at all), and it will let you know if you can iron the clothing. Yes, it takes more time to separate your clothing based on the recommended water temperatures and settings, but it is worth the time when you keep your clothes looking like new.

Always Spot Clean a Stain as Swiftly as Possible

When you spill something on your clothing, the number one thing you need to remember is to spot clean it as quickly as you possibly can. The longer the food (or other substance) sits on the clothing, the more it absorbs into the fibers. That being said, it is very important to treat the stain the correct way. Never, ever rub the stain, and do not use club soda—that is a fallacy. Your best course of action is to simply dab the stain with cold water and then get it to a professional at your earliest convenience.

When a Tag Says Dry Clean Only, It Isn’t Always True

If the dry-clean only label scares you away from attempting to clean your clothes, just know that in the majority of cases, what this means is that the material was not made to withhold the long water exposure and often-intense agitation that is involved with machine washing. However, if you are willing to meticulously hand wash the clothing, you should be fine skipping the dry cleaner. The thing to keep in mind is to manipulate the fabric as little as possible (which also means not putting it under running water), use a very small amount of detergent, and limit the time it is in the water. And for the best results, lay the item flat to dry it. (See also: The Best 5 Benefits of Organic Laundry Detergent)

Your Dry Cleaner Will Have More Success if You Can Give Details About the Stain

If you take your clothing to a dry cleaner and can’t remember what a stain is or when it got there, your dry cleaner is going to have a really hard time effectively removing the stain. On the contrary, if you have an exact time of the occurrence and you can tell the dry cleaner what the culprit is, they will be able to take the best approach to removing your stain and are more likely to have success.

You Don’t Always Have to Follow the Instructions on Your Detergent

Most laundry detergent instructions are based on the operations of older washing machines, not the high-efficiency ones that are in the majority of homes today. As such, you probably don’t need as much as detergent as they say you do. As long as you are properly pre-treating the stain (just dab with cold water), then your clothes will still come out fresh and clean with less detergent. You will just want to do a little trial and error to see how much you need for your machine.

As you can see, taking care of your garments doesn’t require any rocket science. As long as you are aware of the instructions on the care label, properly record and pre-treat stains, and hand washes strategically, you can keep your clothes fitting perfectly and looking new for a long time.

About The Author:

REMA Dri-Vac Corporation is a family-owned and operated business located in Norwalk, Connecticut. They are a third-generation company that provides high-quality equipment for the fabricare industry. They specialize in providing dry cleaners with the equipment they need to run an efficient business, and they are renowned for their invention of the vertical air vacuum in 1947. REMA Dri-Vac Corporation also manufactures return systems, condensate receivers, blow-off separators, and more, and they can build custom equipment to flawlessly integrate with any existing setup.

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