How to Care for Clothing With Pleats or Ruffles
How to Clean Embellished Clothing
This season it’s all about the add-ons: bejeweled dresses, ribbon-trimmed cardigans, and sparkly sequined tees.
First things first: See a stain on an otherwise unsoiled garment? Just spot-clean it. Use a cotton swab dipped in a mixture of mild detergent and water to remove hard-to-reach stains in between accents. (Do not attempt this if the stain is oil-based.) If you need to clean the entire dress/top/skirt, read on.
Metal accents: Dry-clean any items with grommets and studs, as tarnish can bleed. Find a reputable cleaner in your area at ifi.org, the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute’s website, and tell him to “foil” all adornments so they don’t crack. Some high-end services will even remove embellishments before cleaning, then reattach them, but you can pay up to $125 for this.
Beading, gemstones, rhinestones, and sequins: Harsh dry-cleaning chemicals can damage these ornaments, so find a dry cleaner that uses less harsh methods at epa.gov. Or ask a regular dry cleaner to “hand clean” the garment. Depending on the material, machine washing in a mesh bag may also be an option. But you’ll run the risk of the trim falling off or bleeding. (For details on what you can machine wash and how, see Do I Really Have to Dry-Clean This?) Note: Unless the label says otherwise, hand wash all sequined pieces.
Ribbons: “Brush the ends with clear nail polish so they won’t fray,” says Jerry Pozniak of Cameo Cleaners in New York City, then hand wash in cold water to deter buckling.
How to Dewrinkle Embellished Clothing
Beading, gemstones, rhinestones, sequins, and metal accents:
A steamer is safest. “Use a brush attachment so you can go right over embellishments without melting them,” says Barbara Zagnoni of Rowenta. No attachment? Hover the steamer an inch above the garment so the metal plate doesn’t make contact. No steamer? Cup a spoon over an accent to shield it while you iron around it, as shown.
Ribbons: Grosgrain or satin ribbon can be ironed or steamed on a medium setting. Steam velvet ribbons.
How to Store
- Pieces with a few sequins or stones can be hung, but fold heavily embellished items, since the extra weight can cause the fabric to stretch.
- If something is especially delicate, put it in a breathable garment bag or wrap it in acid-free tissue paper to prevent snagging.
How to Clean Pleated Clothing
Besides the obvious places, like pleated skirts and tuxedo shirts, soft versions are showing up in ruched tops and draped dresses.
There are two kinds of pleats: Heat-set pleats, like those on an accordion-pleated dress (shown) and the origami-like folds of starburst pleats, hold their shape thanks to a heat process. Stitched-in pleats, such as those on a knife-pleated skirt or on anything ruched or draped, are sewn into place. Not sure how to tell which is which? “Lightly spray water on a small area,” says John Mahdessian of Madame Paulette. “The pleat will loosen if it is heat set.”
- Heat-set pleats: Dry-clean these garments to preserve the crispness of the pleats.
- Stitched-in pleats: These won’t lose their shape when wet, so you can usually machine wash them on a gentle cycle.
How to Dewrinkle Pleated Clothing
Heat-set pleats: Generally speaking, take these items to a dry cleaner. However, if your garment is made of a synthetic fabric, you can safely steam it.
Knife-pleated skirt: Lay the skirt on an ironing board and attach a paper clip to each pleat’s fold to keep it in place; clip about three at a time (shown, top right). Place the iron at the top of the pleat and burst the steam. Pick up the iron and set it down again farther down the pleat. (Don’t drag it across the fabric or the pleats will pucker.) Repeat on the rest of the pleats. Avoid ironing over the clips.
Tuxedo shirt: Turn the shirt inside out and iron the backs of the pleats, then turn the shirt right-side out, press down on several pleats, and give them a burst of steam. Pick up the iron and set it down again farther down the pleats. Repeat.
Soft folds: Use a steamer, because an iron will create hard creases. As you skim the steamer over the fabric, carefully hold the slack fabric straight with your free hand. No steamer? Spritz the garment with a wrinkle-release spray (try The Laundress Crease Release, $8 for two ounces, thelaundress.com), smooth out the fabric with your hands, and hang to dry (shown, bottom right).
How to Store
“Everything needs to hang,” says designer Rebecca Taylor. Give pleated pieces some breathing room to prevent crimping.
How to Clean Ruffled Clothing
Lately these flirty touches have been cropping up everywhere, from the necklines and cuffs of blouses to the hems of skirts and dresses.
The preferred method of cleaning has more to do with the type of fabric than the presence of ruffles. As long as the fabric is washable (see Do I Really Have to Dry-Clean This?), you can put these types of garments in a mesh laundry bag on a gentle cycle without harming them.
How to Dewrinkle Ruffled Clothing
Silk or synthetic fabrics:
A steamer is the best option for loosening crinkled flounces and frills. To avoid scorching your fingers while trying to control the wispy ripples of fabric, try this tactic: Roll tissue paper or a strip of clean white cotton around the base of a pencil and secure it with tape. Then use this tool instead of your fingers to help raise the ruffles and straighten them out while steaming (shown, top right).
Cotton and linen: You’ll need an iron to get a nice, crisp finish. To avoid indenting the rest of the garment, pull the ruffle away from the garment and place it on the ironing board. With the steam turned on, place the tip of the iron on the ruffle and press a section about three to four inches long, in a semicircle motion (shown, bottom right). Move on to the next section of the ruffle and repeat.
For a cluster of tiny ruffles: A steamer with a brush attachment works wonders here. If you don’t have one, hang the garment and use a burst of steam from an iron positioned about an inch away from the fabric to relax the creases, recommends Zagnoni.
How to Store
Since ruffles can easily become distorted and bend the wrong way in a packed closet, it helps to “make sure they are facing in the correct direction before you hang them,” says clothing designer Wenlan Chia. Taylor suggests twisting tissue paper and placing it behind a large ruffled collar to give it a little backbone.
How to Clean Clothing With Poufs
The newest silhouette is the strong shoulder. But you’ll also see poufs in the billowy sleeves of a peasant blouse or the bubble hem of a party dress or skirt.
As long as the fabric is safe to wash, launder these garments by hand. But don’t soak the clothing for too long. “A dip and swish is all that’s needed,” says clothing expert Steve Boorstein. Gently squeeze out the excess water and stuff the sleeves or the puffed hem tightly with tissue paper (which doesn’t need to be acid-free, since it’s not being used for storage). This will help restore volume to the poufs as they dry.
How to Dewrinkle Clothing With Poufs
First fill the sleeves with tissue paper so you don’t create more creases, then steam, as shown. Afterward, let the fabric dry completely before removing the tissue so that the shape sets. And never go inside the sleeves with the steamer. “Steam in such a tight space can burn your hand,” says Zagnoni.
Bubble hems: Steaming is the way to go, since trying to iron a bubble hem can add more wrinkles. Hang the garment and carefully steam it from the inside out, by gliding the steamer along the back side of the fabric as you gently fluff the hem with your other hand.
How to Store
Hang poufy items at the end of a clothing rack to keep them from getting flattened in a cramped closet. For extra cushioning, stuff acid-free tissue paper inside the poufs.