A few preventive measures will prolong the life of your clothes.

By Valerie Stivers
Updated September 09, 2004
Andrew Rowley

These simple strategies will head off common clothing problems―and help you curb wardrobe crises.


"In museums we use padded hangers," says Deborah Bede, a Bradford, New Hampshire, textile conservator who restored the cotton wings of an airplane the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk. A soft, wide hanger gives a garment more support.


Mold spores need certain conditions to grow: warmth, dampness, and a food source. Before storing a garment, wash it to remove any soilage (the food source) and let it dry completely. If your storage area is humid, keep a bundle of kids' sidewalk chalk near the clothes to absorb moisture.

Misshapen Handbags

Stuff them with tissue paper and hang them on a hook.


The sooner you treat a spot, the better the result. Heat from the dryer can bake stains in, so don't machine-dry a garment until it's 100 percent clean.


Use fabric-softener sheets in the dryer or add ½ cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse cycle. The acidic vinegar removes soap residue and softens the fabric, thus cutting down on friction in the dryer and minimizing static.

Tarnished Silver Jewelry

Tarnish builds up when silver comes into contact with sulfur in the air. Wrap jewelry in a soft cloth and then place in an airtight container, such as a sandwich bag or a piece of Tupperware. Contact with skin also slows tarnishing, so the easiest way to maintain your jewelry is to wear it.