Personal Finance Editor Tanisha A. Sykes’s advice for looking crisp at the office without breaking the bank at the dry cleaners.
- SEPARATE clothes into whites, lights, colors and dedicates. (People launder everything together, then wonder why their white T-shirt is suddenly pink.) Wash clothes inside out and according to label instructions. For whiter whites, soak clothes for two hours in very hot water, 1 cup laundry detergent, 1 cup of powered dish detergent, 1 cup of bleach and 1/2 cup of borax. Wash as usual, then linedry.
- SPRINKLE cornstarch on a fresh oil or gravy stain, then place the garment, stain side down, on a large rag on top of the ironing board. Iron with a hot iron on the wrong side of the stain. Most of the oil and grease should come out immediately. Or spritz the stain with Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner ( $11.93, 32 fl oz amazon.com) ; it works wonders on stubborn spots.
- DRAPE recently worn dresses, blouses, suits or slacks over the back of a chair or on a hook on the back of your door to air out after wearing. Allowing odors to escape lets you wear the clothing again, reduces your dry-cleaning bill and retains the value of your investment. After wearing an item of clothing twice, dry-clean the fabric so that perspiration and body oils don’t set in .
- AVOID wire hangers they can rust and ruin the shape of clothing , I love Huggable Hangers in black ($20 for a value pack of 14 shirt and 10 suit hangers, containerstore.com) because they’re nonslip and space saving . Bonus tip: shirts and blouses made of linen or rayon will stay virtually wrinkle-free when hung. Fold sweaters, knitwear and long, beaded evening dresses to avoid stretching.
- KEEP a fully stocked sewing kit, with needle and thread, scissors and safety pins, always at the ready for quick fixes in the office or while traveling for work. At home, set aside time to sew missing buttons, ripped skirt hems or torn jacket linings on a lazy Saturday afternoon. I like to keep the Singer Professional Series Sew Kit ($27.99, amazon.com) right in my purse for repairs on the go.
- ORGANIZE your closet. Donate rarely worn pieces to your favorite charity. Keep jewelry secure in the Little Black Dress Hanging Jewelry Organizer by Umbra ($17.51, amazon.com), and store shoes in Our Shoe Boxes ($2-$4 each, containerstore.com) For more ideas storage ideas, try closetmaid.com or homedepot.com. A neat closet protects your gear for a lifetime.
From Essence Magazine October 2013 issue.