9 Sneaky Ways You’re Accidentally Ruining Your Clothes

Invest in a set of wooden, felt or velvet hangers to avoid making hard-to-remove creases in the shoulders of your clothes.
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It doesn’t matter if you’re working with a Forever 21 budget or Fendi dollars, when you find something that makes you look and feel like a million bucks, you want to make sure it sticks around. Here are nine pitfalls to avoid in maintaining a proper wardrobe.

Dry Cleaning Too Often You get the basic idea behind how a washing machine cleans your clothes, but how about dry cleaning? Hint: It involves a lot of heavy chemicals. If a garment tag says “dry clean” instead of “dry clean only,” feel free to hand wash at home instead of sending it out. You’ll save the fabric from overexposure and your wallet from spending unnecessary money.

Not Taking Things Out of the Plastic On the other hand, dry cleaning really is the only option for some pieces. But you’ll want to remove those pieces from the cleaner’s plastic garment bag immediately. Leaving them inside can trap leftover chemicals from the washing treatment and cause further damage to the fibers. Just shake your items out and hang them in an open spot in your closet.

Folding Leather If you’ve never tried to get creases out of leather, consider yourself lucky because man, oh man, is it a challenge (and a high risk of damage). Hang pants or tall boots with a cushion between the clip and the leather and use a sturdy wooden hanger for jackets, which should be zipped closed as well.

Stacking Patent-Leather Items on Top of Each Other Leather of all kinds can be tricky to store but patent leather is perhaps the most fickle type. The sleek, shiny fabric is particularly sensitive to heat and has a tendency to stick to anything it’s leaning up against, causing color transfer or changes in texture. Your best option for pieces like this: Separate them into individual dust bags.

Storing Bags on Hooks It might seem like the easiest solution to a lack of storage space to hang your favorite bags on a hook by the door, but it could be doing more harm than good. The constant pull on the handles can cause stretching and weakness at the seams, meaning that gorgeous investment tote might not last as long as you’d hoped before needing repairs.

Not Zipping Zippers Zip up the fly of your pants before tossing them in the washing machine to protect your other garments from snagging and tearing. You should also be zipping and buckling your shoes and bags when you’re not using them to keep those pieces from losing their shape.

Hanging Knits Sweaters are fantastic for stretching to hug your every curve (which is part of the reason we love them so much) but the stretching doesn’t stop once you’ve taken them off. If you’re hanging up sweaters or knit dresses, over time the shoulders will sag and what was once your favorite fitted sweaterdress will become a droopy and unflattering sack. Instead, fold them and place on shelves or in drawers.

Hanging Anything on Wire Hangers Mommie Dearest is a horrible role model in every way, except for one: no wire hangers…ever! You shouldn’t hang anything on the wire hangers your cleaner provides. Invest in a set of wooden, felt or velvet hangers to avoid making hard-to-remove creases in the shoulders of your clothes. Then return the wire ones to your dry cleaner as an exercise in recycling.

Not Wiping Down Shoes Yes, you applied a weather protection spray to your favorite suede booties, but water isn’t the only thing to worry about. Wipe down your shoes after each wear using a soft cloth to brush off any dirt, dust, sand or salt from your travels. Extra debris might not look so bad after one day of walking around, but over time it can distort the color and texture of the fabric.