Q&A: How to Keep Clothes Looking New

April 25th, 2007

Q:  What’s the best way to keep new clothes looking new? Whenever I buy something, it looks great the first time I wear it, but then after the first or second wash, it starts looking older and older.

Surround Air XJ-350 Electric Fabric Shaver A:  Clothes start to look older after washing for three main reasons: (1) Color Fading, (2) Pilling, and (3) Wrinkling.  Here’s how to combat each:

Problem: Color Fading
Solution: Wash your clothes in cold water.  Many clothing dyes aren’t color fast to begin with, and the tendency to "bleed" increases with the temperature of the water. Colors tend to become permanent after a few washes–and the garments under high heat accelerates the color setting process.  Note: Always wash denim inside-out to prevent color loss.

I’ve found that using gentler detergents (like Woolite) helps to extend the "new" look of my clothes.  Oh, and if the garment says "Dry Clean Only," do just that.

Problem: Pilling

Solution:  Buy a fabric shaver to quickly and safely remove the "pills" (balled up fuzz) and lint from your clothes.  Fabric shavers, like the model pictured, are especially useful to give new life to sweaters. 

Pilling happens when your clothes rub up against something else.  In the washing machine, this can happen when clothes rub up against the sides of the machine–or when they rub up against each other. 

To minimize pilling, we recommend (1) placing items prone to pilling inside garment bags, (2) using the delicate cycle, and (3) not overloading your washing machine full of clothes.

Problem: Wrinkling
Solution:  Fold or hang your clothes as soon as the dryer cycle ends.  The longer clothes sit in the dryer after the dryer cycle ends, the more wrinkled they will become.

If you can’t take clothes out of the dryer right away, try moistening a hand towel and adding it to the load and then run the dryer for 10 minutes.  The heat and moisture combination works much like a steamer and will help reduce wrinkling.

You can use a fabric steamer to remove wrinkles in your clothes.  Steamers are less harsh than irons on your clothes–and will help to preserve their usable life span.

Surround Air XJ-350 Electric Fabric Shaver | $29.99 at Target.

Style question?  We’ve got answers.  E-mail us at tips at omiru dot com, or leave us a comment with your question.

Entry Filed under: Men's,Q&A,Women's

25 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Briana  |  April 25th, 2007 at 10:11 am

    This is a great post. My boyfriend’s clothes are ALWAYS so wrinkled, and I couldn’t figure out exactly what he was doing to make them that way. This makes sense – now I can tell him to stop leaving them in the dryer for hours after they’re done!

  • 2. Trisha  |  April 25th, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    Thanks, Briana, and glad we could help :)

  • 3. Jakuda  |  April 26th, 2007 at 3:16 am

    For dry-clean only garments, avoid dry cleaning as much as possible. Spot cleaning and a steamer may be all you need between dry-cleanings.

  • 4. Trisha  |  April 26th, 2007 at 3:28 am

    Excellent advice–dry cleaning is harsh and reduces the life of the garment. Thanks for the tip, Jakuda!

  • 5. John  |  August 11th, 2007 at 10:25 am

    An excellent way to keep your shirts looking new (that is, crisp and the collar straight, not curling) is to use Sizing Spray. It’s different than starch spray, which makes shirts hard, not crisp.

    Designers will actually spray their shirts with Sizing Spray when they ship their clothes of to retail stores to be sold to customers.

  • 6. Trisha  |  August 12th, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    Thanks for the tip, John!

  • 7. John  |  August 27th, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    info on that stuff:


    it also tells you where to get it (it’s not that common)

  • 8. DJ  |  February 6th, 2008 at 7:51 am

    How do you get wrinkles out of clothes that were caused by the heat setting on the dryer being too hot?? I’ve tried ironing them and using the steam setting on my iron and I’ve also tried hanging some of the severely wrinkled clothes in the bathroom during my shower and nothing is working! HELP! All of my clothes are ruined!!

  • 9. Deb Whitworth  |  March 17th, 2008 at 8:26 am

    I purchased a fabric steamer several weeks ago very reasonably on drugstore.com. Shipping was included (a pet peave that keeps me from shopping on line) and the cost was right around $60 for a Conair steamer. The website provided product reviews, which were very helpful and I actually changed my choice after reading them. I’m thrilled with my steamer. My jackets, sweaters, and cotton shirts look great. Clothes that I’ve just purchased (complete with shipping wrinkles) look gorgeous after being steamed. I’m a true believer! Better than the iron ever was and it fits nicely into my linen closet.

  • 10. Nancy  |  December 30th, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Thanks for the tips, I learned a few things! I wear almost exclusively cotton so I’m familiar with the worn look.

    To prevent wrinkles, wash clothes very carefully the first few times otherwise deep wrinkles and creases will set in. I always vigorously shake, snap and work clothes ‘straight’ between the washer and the dryer. Button and zip pants to maintain fabric shape, tucking pockets in carefully. If you do end up with funky-shaped wrinkly pockets or such, block the fabric into shape by safety-pinning it in place from the inside, then wash and dry as usual. Do this regularly with problem areas. Also check clothes just before they’re dry.

    Sounds high-maintenance but it makes for well-behaved cotton garments.

  • 11. Aaron  |  January 11th, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    Can I share a few thoughts…

    1. Perhaps closely related to Fading, Pilling and Wrinkling, I’ve found that clothes also tend to lose the “snap” of the fabric after washing; meaning, the fabric doesn’t feel or look quite as crisp as it did when new. This loss of snap usually happens after a few washings, but often after only one.

    2. So for most of my clothes, I wash them by hand in Woolite; I feel that even the gentle cycle on washing machines tend to beat up clothes quickly.

    3. I might be nuts, but I think I’ve noticed the same thing with Dry Cleaning too; the clothes tend to lose their crispness.

    For me, the bottom line is, only wash your clothes if totally necessary; often airing them out and/or using a fabric freshener suffices, because we usually wash to remove odors.

  • 12. Chloe  |  January 30th, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    I’ve noticed how cotton shirts get these weird tiny little holes right below the navel.. it seems to happen to pretty much everyone I know. I understand that maybe it’s just been washed a few too many times, but does anyone know why the location seems to be so universal?

  • 13. Shirin  |  February 4th, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    You know, Chloe, that’s happened to me, too! I’m thinking that since most people wear jeans and jeans usually have a big metal button at the top, cotton T-shirts might get worn-out there from rubbing or pulling against them, especially since fitted shirts are in style these days. Could be something else entirely– maybe moths? I’m not sure, but I don’t know if there’s any way to really prevent that.

  • 14. Kevin  |  February 14th, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Hi All, thought I would pass this along. The worst thing you can do to any clothes is hot water wash and using the dryer. It is the retail stores best friend & your clothes worst enemy. I use COLD water wash only and I do not EVER use the dryer, rather the sweaters I lay flat & air dry and all others I smooth out creases, collars, etc by hand and hang to air dry. I kid you not on this, I NEVER get the opportunity to throw clothes out because they are worn out or tired looking……never! I have clothes which I wear weekly that are 25 years old, several favourite sweaters are 40+ years and have 5 or 6 officers shirts from the “second world war” that I constantly wear bumming around that are crisp & smart as new. When your clothes don’t wear out, given enough time, you always have stuff in fashion.

  • 15. bev buckley  |  May 4th, 2009 at 4:12 am

    Hi i put some washing on realise halfway through it was on the hottest wash !!!! I put it back down straight away but when i got wahing out most of it was soooo wrinkled i can cope with most of it but my sone nike air tracksuit was there and hes gutted . Im a single mum cant afford another pleas is thee anything i can do to reverse this ??????????

  • 16. Kym  |  June 8th, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Chloe, do you often pick up animals such as cats? that could be where the tiny holes are coming from…from their claws.

  • 17. Helen  |  June 15th, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    hey, i was wondering how do you keep your clothes from ripping in rugby.

  • 18. Gary  |  July 1st, 2009 at 8:49 am

    I’ve saved a couple of things that I accidentally dried in a hot dryer by immediately rewashing them in cold water by hand and then hanging to dry. Sometimes the item will stretch back to its original shape and size from the weight of the wet garment hanging to air dry. This won’t work in extreme cases, of course, but I’ve had success with some polos that shrunk an inch or so in length–they’re as good as new.

  • 19. Carnival of Shopping #14&hellip  |  July 27th, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    […] more about taking care of and recycling what you have. Trisha at Omiru gives some great advice on how to keep your clothes looking new, and the team over at My New Shiny Shoes highlights the benefits of using tote bags instead of […]

  • 20. Squeedle  |  November 16th, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    I disagree with the advice to dry clean only for everything that says it. I have noticed more and more garments are marked “dry clean only,” and just from experience, I know full well that many of those items can at least be safely laundered cold on the gentle cycle or hand washed (like a 100% acrylic sweater). For one thing, most fine silks and woolens can be hand washed and dried flat. Dry cleaning is expensive. I make good money and there is no way I’m going to dry clean all the things marked that way because I’d be spending hundreds of dollars a month. I will say though, that for things that really can’t be washed, the Dryel treatment works pretty well until you just *have* to take it to the cleaners (like a really bad spot or it’s super smelly/sweaty).

    I would also suggest buying a bunch of those mesh washing bags and put anything in there that tends to get twisted up, like hosiery and bras. All that pulling and twisting wears out the elastic fibers. Also I’ve found that sweaters and the more lightweight and delicate things will do better in one of those bags.

    The other thing that wears out clothes is a washing machine with an agitator. If you use a laundromat, I’d suggest finding one with front loading washers. If you don’t, then the next time you get a new washer try to find a front loader.

    Also: I don’t know about you folks but I just don’t have time to wash all my stuff by hand, and I have no place to hang up –all– my clothes, and I don’t even have a family. This advice won’t work at all for a full household.

    As for losing the “crispness,” you may be referring to the fabric sizing treatment that clothes often have on the rack. If you want it back you can buy spray sizing that you use just like spray starch when ironing.

  • 21. Denise  |  April 17th, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    I have a Maytag top loader and no matter what cycle i use my dark clothes always come out with fluff or white markings on them. I tried using softener too and this does not really help much either. I use cold water and dont overload the machine. I did not have this problem with my front loader.
    Could it be too much soap? I use powder …perhaps the liquid will not do this?

  • 22. Trisha  |  April 18th, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    Denise – try liquid instead of powder soap. I’ve had the problem of white markings too, but not since I’ve switched over to liquid soap. Hope that works for you.

  • 23. Ashlea  |  October 25th, 2010 at 7:53 am

    Re: squeedle
    Surprise yourself and try. I live in a teeny apartment with two little boys and one great big boy. I have to hang all our clothes out to dry because it’s Japan and electricity is too expensive. I also wash on cold because hot water is too expensive. It’s a pain during the rainy season, but if a working mom can do it, maybe you can, too.

  • 24. Saby  |  November 1st, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Hello everyone, great tips i have learned soo much from these great comments.

    My problem is that i have had these three pairs of jeans that were ABSOLUTELY my favorite. They were soft denim and being girl with big hips they were only jeans i could really wear and feel comfortable in them. One day as I was drying them in drier after i washed them inside out and buttons and zippers closed i guess i wanted to completely dry it in dryer since i needed to wear them i took them out and put on just to see that they only reached to my knees. All three of them completely SHRANK i am guessing due to drying it too long and maybe heat..Now I cant wear them at all except actually one of them but its very tight when i do wear those that fit..I dont know is there something I could do to get these pants to fit me again after they shrank like this/??? :((these were my favorite most comfy jeans…

    somebody please help
    Thank you

  • 25. Monica  |  January 25th, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    I’ve seen some polyester garments have tags marked dry clean only, which is nuts! Polyester is practically indestructable, provided you wash in cold & air dry, as high heat can melt the fabric. Microfiber is polyester. I wash all my microfiber couch cushions in the wash, even thoughit says to “professionally clean only, once a year”- it’s polyester!! It will look exactly the same new for the rest of its life.

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