- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Q: I read your column in the March 22 Washington Times. The question about

the sports uniform reminded me of when my son’s uniform bled gold onto white, and he was the only player on the lacrosse team with pale yellow pants.

Several years ago, I came across Carbona Color Dye Grabber and Dye Run Remover, which worked like a charm but has vanished from the market. I also recommend Shout Color Catcher. Can you mention some home care products that prevent color bleeding in the wash?

A: I have seen or used the products you mentioned, and they do a great job of “catching” the fugitive dye in washing. Unfortunately, we have found these types of products usually are available only at specialty craft and fabric stores and select grocery stores. These products are good for preventing dye pickup. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for use. Also, to minimize color bleeding, make sure to sort clothing by color and use the proper water temperatures for the load color when washing.

Q: Now that spring is here, I would like to buy some lighter fabrics, but I’m worried about the care for such items. How do I know what will last?

A: The durability of fibers and fabrics often can be traced to the fiber content and fabric construction. Tightly woven and knit fabrics made from tightly twisted yarns (think jeans) are more durable than loosely woven or knit materials made from low-twist yarns (lacy and sheer blouses). Lightweight cottons, rayon, silk, polyester and blends of these fibers are good choices for spring and summer wear. Also, it is always suggested that you purchase your fine clothing from reputable retailers and follow the care instructions on the label for best results.

Q: I’m starting to pack away my winter clothes for the season. Which items should I fold, and which should I hang?

A: First, be sure to properly clean any garment before storing to minimize insect attack or degradation from staining. Also, it is a good practice to inspect all clothing for missing buttons, broken zippers or other structural problems and have them repaired before storing so your garments will be ready to wear when taken out of storage.

As for storing the items, the recent popularity of organization shows and stores has introduced many storage options. If items are going into long-term storage, it may be a good practice to fold them to prevent excess stress and tension on the shoulder areas of blouses, jackets and dresses or the waist areas of pants. Knit items should always be folded to prevent stretching and distortion.

In addition, be sure to keep your items away from areas that are damp to minimize fungus growth and avoid light exposure to prevent color fading. If space is a problem, many professional cleaners offer seasonal storage for their customers.

Q: It’s finally nice enough to open the windows, but will the direct sunlight affect my comforters, drapes and upholstery?

A: Direct exposure to sunlight can cause damage to drapes, bed linens, carpets and other household materials that are left in the same position for prolonged periods. Most damage will appear as gradual fading or dulling of color. Often, this fading will not be noticeable until after cleaning because the material will just look dull or dirty because of an accumulation of dirt and dust.

In addition, prolonged exposure to light can thin and degrade fibers at the exposed areas. When washed or dry-cleaned, the weakened fibers break up and fall out, leaving splits or holes.

If drapes have been hanging for a few years, have a professional cleaner inspect them before cleaning to determine if shade variances or holes will develop. Unlined fabric drapes have a life expectancy of about four years, and lined drapes should last about five years, although the lining may have to be replaced to keep the drapes in usable condition.

The best way to prevent excessive damage or fading is to minimize light exposure by using sheers or blinds or to rotate items periodically or with the seasons. This will brighten the look of your home and ensure that you get the most mileage out of your household items.

Chris Allsbrooks is an affiliate board member and spokeswoman for the FabriCare Foundation. She has 13 years’ experience as a textile analyst in the International Textile Analysis Laboratory of the International Fabricare Institute in Laurel. Send questions to info@yourclothingcare.com.

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