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Monday, August 26, 2013

George Masselos On Caring For Your Clothes, Part 3

     In this final installment, George from Centennial Dry Cleaners tells us about clothes brushes and how to care for your shirts.

      George, regarding clothes brushes – my underground informant Oppenheimer often raves on about clothes brushes and how they can save a suit and prolong it’s life. Oppenheimer thinks he knows absolutely everything, is this true and if so, can you explain to me what sort of clothes brushes one should purchase and do you have a preferred brand?

I still have my father’s clothes brush which I first saw him use 40 years ago. It is an English maple clothes brush with natural bristles. 100% natural bristles are best of all. Synthetic brushes have less ‘give’ and because they are hard they can scratch the fabric.

Traditional Clothes Brush

Also synthetic brushes will wear out relatively quickly, whereas a natural bristle brush will last a lifetime. The price a clothes brushes ranges from around $15 to $100. There are many available on the internet and as long as it has natural bristles you can’t really go wrong.

Clothes brushes take off the surface dirt and dust but to be effective they must be used the correct way. Brushing should never be a scrubbing movement, it should be a strong sweeping motion and all strokes should be in the same direction. You should first brush the nap – ie brush against the lie of the material – then brush down for a smooth finish.
Ideally you should brush your suit or jacket every time you wear it in order to protect them and increase their life.

I would also recommend you should have a velvet – faced lint brush to be used on finely woven and softer materials. This type of brush is ideal for picking up fluff, hair or clinging particles. They are also readily available and cost around $10.00.

With respect to cotton shirts, I have often told our readers what I was told by my shirt maker, which is that the best way to wash them is to soak them in nappy san for the night and then put them on a rinse cycle in a washing bag and iron them after they are near dry but still moist. What is the process by which you wash shirts and do you know of any ‘superlative’ techniques for this kind of garment?

Shirts should last about 50 to 60 washings, providing they are not abused. Abuse comes in many ways and the following conditions can shorten the life of a shirt;
- Machine washing with a long, hot cycle.
- Clothes dryers
- Wearing shirts more than once without washing
- Heavy beards or stubble rubbing on collar
- Use of cologne and after shave, without immediate washing and attention
- Watchbands and jewellery can fray cuffs
- Heavy and regular use of starch
- Deodorant ( be sure to rinse out deodorant and perspiration asap
- Lack of rotation. Like shoes and suits shirts should be rotated and worn maybe once every 2 weeks.

All these conditions and habits shorten the life of shirts, but wearing them more than once without washing is the biggest reason for the ‘grubby’ collar and ‘dingy’ looking shirts. Also, most shirtmakers advocate little or no starch because it can make the fabric brittle, which can lead to premature tearing. If you use starch consider going 2-3 weeks with no starch every month or so to ‘rinse out’ residual deposits.

Soaking every shirt over night and then rinsing them in net bags is very time consuming and probably overkill. I think that machine washing in a front loader (the spindle in a top loader is too aggressive) in a delicate cycle, line dry, then iron when only slightly dry is an excellent process. It is the hot water, clothes dryers, and too much mechanical action that damages cotton shirts.

If you are time poor or dislike ironing shirts like most people, a good quality dry cleaner will do just as good a job if not better. They will generally wash your shirts in warm water, pre treat the stains when required, and finish them on a high end shirt unit when the shirt is wet. I would recommend dry cleaning any silk, rayon, viscose, or good quality dark coloured shirts (navy, black etc) as they will look better, fade less, and last longer.

Understanding care symbols for your textiles - click to enlarge

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