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Avoid a Trip to the Dry Cleaners With These Clothes-Saving Tips

A stain doesn't have to be the end of your favorite sweater. Learn how to rescue your favorite wardrobe pieces from potentially life-ending spills, marks and more.

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There is nothing quite as frustrating as buying a gorgeous new party dress, only to get a stain on it. We all know that dry cleaning can be expensive, and even then it's difficult to hand over your clothes and trust that delicate silks or fragile beading won't get ruined.

Carolyn Childers, cleaning pro at Handy, is an expert at removing tough stains from all kinds of fabrics. From treating suede to saving silk, Carolyn shares her best tips for restoring your 'ruined' pieces to their former glory.

Cleaning delicate beading:
A key benefit of an item adorned with beads and sequins is that these embellishments often protect the fabric beneath from any staining. Many are too scared to tackle these stains, worrying that the stitches will come loose, however a gentle rub with warm water is often what is required. It is always important not to use hot water, as embellishments that have been glued on will likely come away as the hot water causes the glue to melt.

For an overall clean of a sequinned garment, I would recommend that you wash the item inside out by hand, using warm water and delicate hand-wash detergent. Always dry flat, don’t hang, as when hung, the item can lose its shape. Finally, when doing this, take extra care when handling to ensure that the sequins don’t snag on each other or the fabric.

Saving silk from stubborn stains:
Silk, while it looks absolutely stunning, can be difficult to clean. Normally, silk dresses and outfits are marked as ‘dry-clean only’; however, there are a few small measures that you can try to fix your favourite outfit.

If you have spilled something greasy or oily onto the silk, dab it with baby powder and leave to sit for half an hour. When your time is up, gently rinse the baby powder out using cold water– it should have absorbed the stain and your silk will be looking fantastic once again! If the stain is chocolate however, you should first scrape off as much as you can using a blunt knife (be very gentle!) then lightly scrub the affected area with soapy water (dishwashing liquid cuts through grease the best) stain should disappear.

If you have spilled alcohol on your garment, the answer is to use a bit of warm water on the affected area and dab away until you remove the stain.

Lastly, if you want to get rid of the more stubborn stains, like those from sweat, mix equal measures of water and vinegar and gently dab at the fabric before rinsing away. You can do the same with deodorant stains, but test on a small area first to see how the silk reacts.  

Stopping lace from discoloring:
Lace stains need to be treated as quickly as possible – stains stick to lace very quickly, which can then cause the fabric to stiffen and discolor over time.

Firstly, run the stain under cold water, then very gently rub baking soda into the material, and leave to sit for five minutes. Once you have done that, rinse out the soda with cold water and then wash the garment in lukewarm water with a few drops of detergent. Should the stain prove persistent, repeat one more time. 

Make marks on velvet vanish:
The good news with velvet is that while it is delicate, it mostly doesn’t require professional care to clean it!

As soon as a stain appears, soak up as much of it as you can with a paper towel or a cloth. This alone can get rid of the stain, but if the mark is stubborn, then blot the affected area with a little bit of soapy water until it disappears. Once gone, dab the velvet with a dry, clean cloth so that there is no residue left from the soap.  

Be aware, though - when it comes to velvet, time is of the essence, as leaving a stain to develop and settle into the fabric will not only affect the appearance, but can also change the durability of the garment.

Removing stains from suede:
Suede may seem like a particularly hard fabric to clean, but before you take a trip to the dry cleaner, you may want to consider this tip. One of the simplest ways to remove a stain on suede is by using a standard eraser. Dry marks can be removed by rubbing the eraser across the stain, working in one direction. Brush off the debris afterwards and the stain should be gone.

For tougher stains, take some vinegar diluted with water and use a toothbrush to gently brush the stain away. Leave to dry and it will be as good as new.

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