The holiday season is a time of parties, dressing up and wearing festive clothing. Most of the fabrics require a bit of extra care in the laundry or dry cleaners to keep them looking their best. Here's how to look great from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day:
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Beading brings flair to our clothes but it needs some special care to keep it looking its best. First, check the garment label to see if the garment is machine or hand washable. If it says dry clean only, believe the label.
Button or zip the garment completely. Turn the garment inside out so that the beading is protected. Use the gentle cycle with cold water and a mild detergent. Use cool water and a detergent designed for hand washing. Do not scrub vigorously or wring the garment tightly. Never put beaded garments in the dryer - the beading could melt. If the garment is woven, it can be hung to dry. Knitted items should be dried flat.
Brocade is a fabric woven with an elaborate raised design, often using gold or silver threads. Extra care taken when laundering the garments will protect the longer floating threads that form the design and give it its lovely finish.
First, read the garment label. Some brocades can be hand washed, other must be dry cleaned. Hand wash in cool water using a mild detergent. Never scrub vigorously or wring the garment.
To prevent snags or pulls that could happen in the dryer, dry brocade garments flat. To prevent crushing or flattening the design, always iron on the wrong side of the fabric. Use a press cloth or unprinted woven cotton towel between the iron and the fabric.
Cashmere garments are luxurious and can last for many years if given proper care. Made of fibers from the fine, downy wool at the roots of the hair of the Kashmir goat, this wool is expensive and deserves respectful care.
Cashmere should be dry cleaned or carefully hand washed in cool water using a mild detergent. If hand washed, rinse well and never wring the garment. The item should be dried flat and reshaped during drying.
If pressing is needed, it should be done while the garment is still damp and always on the wrong side using a press cloth between the iron and the cashmere. If the garment needs pressing between cleaning, use a steam iron and follow all pressing directions.
Corduroy is a sturdy, long-wearing fabric but it needs a bit of extra care to keep it looking its best. A cotton fabric, it is woven to have a pile and lengthwise cords, ridges or ribs.
Special care will help keep the pile from being crushed or distorted. Button or zip garments and turn them inside out before laundering. Use warm water, regular detergent and a normal setting in the washer.
Shake out the garments before placing in the dryer. Use a permanent press setting and remove the garments while they are still damp. Smooth seams, pockets and shirt plackets. Hang to complete drying and iron on the wrong side of the fabric. If pile is flattened, it can be revived by brushing gently.
Damask is a beautiful fabric most often used for linens. With just a bit of care, it will last for many years and become an heirloom.
Woven on a jacquard-weave loom, damask is an elaborately patterned, usually reversible, fabric made of linen, silk, cotton, wool or synthetic fibers. The weave produces long threads that catch and reflect light.
Table linens made of linen and cotton should be hand washed in cool water with a mild detergent. They can be placed in a dryer and should be removed while slightly damp for easier ironing.
Damask made from silk or wool should be dry cleaned. All pressing should be done using a press cloth between the iron and the damask.
Lace is a netlike ornamental fabric made by hand or machine of cotton, linen or synthetic fibers. It is delicate and beautiful and will last for many years if treated with care.
All lace should be hand washed using cool water and a mild detergent. If the item is a garment, button and zip completely to avoid snags that can tear the lace netting. Avoid vigorous scrubbing which will distort the fibers. Rinse well and do not wring to remove water, gently squeeze.
Lace should be air dried or dried flat, never in the dryer. If ironing is needed, place a thick white towel over the ironing board and use a press cloth between the iron and the lace to prevent crushing and snags that can rip or tear.
Satin is a luxurious fabric woven to have a glossy face and a soft, slippery texture. Originally made of silk, it is now available in acetate, rayon, cotton, nylon and polyester.
Always read the care labels and know the fiber content. Acetate and silk fiber satins should be dry cleaned. Others can be washed using warm or cool water, regular detergent and a medium cycle.
For washable satins, they can be allowed to drip-dry or dried in the dryer on medium heat. If ironing is needed, use a low setting.
Sequins bring flair to our clothes but it needs some special care to keep it looking its best. First, check the garment label to see if the garment is machine or hand washable. If it says dry clean only, believe the label.
Button or zip the garment completely. Turn the garment inside out so that the beading is protected. Use the gentle cycle with cold water and a mild detergent. Use cool water and a detergent designed for hand washing. Do not scrub vigorously or wring the garment tightly. Never put sequined garments in the dryer - the beading could melt. If the garment is woven, it can be hung to dry. Knitted items should be dried flat.
Silk is a soft, lustrous fiber taken from the cocoon of the silkworm. Silk garments are delicate and can be easily damaged. Read the care label in your garments. Some lightweight silks are hand washable in cool water with a mild detergent. Rinse several times to remove suds and never wring to remove water. Wringing can break the fibers. Dry flat.
Professional cleaning is recommended for heavier and structured silk garments as well as any that are heavily stained.
Extremely high temperatures when ironing can scorch silk. The scorching or yellowing occurs as the fibers begin to burn. Burned fibers cannot be revived.
Velvet is a woven fabric made of silk, nylon, acetate or rayon with a thick, soft pile of cut or uncut loops. A similar fabric, velveteen, is made the same way but from cotton.
For best results, velvet should be dry cleaned. But to freshen the pile and remove creases, steam can be used on the wrong side of the fabric. A hand steamer works well as does holding the garment over a pot of boiling water. In both cases, never allow the garment to become wet. For very light wrinkles, hanging the garment in a steamy bathroom may do the trick.
Never iron velvet. Ironing will crush the fibers and leave a near-permanent imprint.