Tips and old-school tricks for keeping your clothes nice

I photographed business chic Mikela when she was picking up her drycleaning. I appreciate how she’s added a quirky cork-wedge to what looks like a Contemporary Business Wear ( also called “Business Casual”) office ensemble:

Business Chic Mikela drycleaning Business Mikela mimco necklace

Business Chic Georg Jensen daisy

 I think that Mikela is wearing an elephant necklace from Mimco and earrings by Georg Jensen “Daisy” earrings.


Mikela’s email doesn’t seem to be working for me so I haven’t been able to get the rest of her outfit details. Instead I’ll use this opportunity to discuss methods by which we clean our clothing!

Old-school tips for cleaning (and saving!) clothes

Did you know that the fastest growing household waste in Australia is clothing? According to Council of Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia (TFIA) CEO Richard Evans, “If we are like other western countries then we only recycle 18% of clothing compared to 55% for paper, and 63% of metal packaging.”  However Evans believes that with a change of behaviour in the way we buy, care and clean our fashion and accessories consumers could save more than $600 a year.

Australian households average $2,600 per year (that’s $216.67 per month… I think I spend more than that! What about you?) on clothing, footwear and accessories, and an unexpected stain soon after purchase can mean we have wasted the investment.

“The one-fix-all toxic, chemical spot removers aren’t a good solution as they can harm natural fibres such as silk, wool and cotton,” Evans said.

Some synthetic stain removers are flammable and many people can be allergic or sensitive to harsh ingredients. Many aerosol stain removers contain neurotoxic petroleum solvents and can permeate a home, causing toxic air pollution. There are safer alternatives.

“It is surprising how well baby wipes and steam can remove stubborn stains,” Evans said. “The first rule is to treat a stain quickly. Never rub it … guys are you listening? … and don’t let the stain set; and by not using harsh chemicals, the garment can be saved and not thrown out.”

Textile and fabric experts advise:

  • First scrape, blot, vacuum or otherwise remove as much of the stain as you can. NEVER rub the stain.
  • Identify the stain; this is important as the chemistry of the stain will determine the right treatment.
  • Warm or cool water is the safest stain removal because hot water and heat can set stains. Think twice about throwing the stained clothing into the laundry basket. The heat of the water and dryer can bond many stains.
  • Avoid rubbing and pressure. If you are home, treat it immediately; if you are out, dab water onto the stained area with tissue paper or paper towels until the stain is saturated. It may be a little uncomfortable, but it will prevent the stain being permanent.

Think that this is all too hard and that it’s easier to send you send your stained clothes to the op shop? “On average we throw out 30kg of clothing and textile items a year,” Evans said. “Australian charities report receiving 22 tonnes of clothing waste per day, but they estimate only 10% is of resell quality. The rest goes to textile recycling.”


I myself am partial to airing out clothes rather than washing them after every single wear. The dress that I wore over the course of last year was dry cleaned 4 times over the course of the year using the airing and spot-cleaning techniques in between. How do you look after your clothes? Any tips and tricks that you can share?

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