- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Q: My husband gave me a beautiful suede coat for Christmas, but I already got a stain on it. How should I clean my jacket?

A: Suede and leather can be hard to clean; I would recommend bringing your coat to a professional dry cleaner. However, if the coat is just lightly soiled, you can remove stains by gently rubbing the coat with a pencil eraser.

Then rub the suede with a clean, dry cloth towel, making sure to rub the suede in one direction. Next, brush your jacket with a suede brush that has soft bristles with wire inserts. These brushes usually can be found at shoe stores.

To keep up the look of your jacket, have suede cleaned professionally at least every two years.

Q: How do I clean tree skirts before I store them away for next year?

A: Christmas tree skirts are often valuable and treasured holiday items. Some tree skirts are very costly, while others may be family heirlooms. Tree skirts should be handled with great care.

In most cases, they are adorned with beads, sequins, appliques, lace, felt, quilted designs, multicolored prints and other types of decorative trim. Thus, it becomes difficult to launder and dry-clean the skirt safely because those decorative trims often are applied with glues and adhesives, which show little resistance to cleaning.

Local stain-removal treatments are a safe method for cleaning tree skirts. If water or other liquids spill on the skirt, blot the area with white handkerchiefs, cotton towels or paper towels. Use cool water to aid in removing stains. If the stains cannot be removed without damage, contact your dry cleaner for assistance.

Q: Flu season is in full force, and although cough syrup is helping me tackle my cough, it has left a very unattractive stain on my blouse. How do you remove stains caused by cough syrup and liquid cold medicines?

A: Dry-clean garments should be taken to your cleaner as soon as possible. Luckily, cough-syrup stains on washable garments usually will come out with a laundry pre-treatment product.

After washing, check the affected area before tumble drying. If traces of the stain remain, color-safe bleach may be necessary. Because of the nature of certain dyes and fibers, some medicinal stains are impossible to remove completely.

Q: My new job requires me to wear ties to work, and they are expensive. How do I keep my ties in great shape?

A: Neckties usually don’t need cleaning unless they get heavily soiled or stained. If staining occurs blot the stain, do not rub it. Rubbing can cause surface yarns to break, resulting in color loss that you may not be able to see until after the tie has been professionally cleaned.

For best results, take stained or soiled neckties to a professional fabric care specialist.

Q: I have a white coat. Is there something I can treat it with as soon as I buy it to repel stains?

A: You have two choices here. To do it yourself, you can purchase a spray silicone product, like Scotch Guard, that you can spray directly onto the coat. However, be sure to test a small area of the coat first (probably under the seam where it doesn’t show) to make sure it doesn’t fade or damage the fabric or color.

Dry cleaners generally have a water-repellant product that can also be used to that effect. But, remember that when the coat is washed or dry-cleaned, both of these methods will come out, so you will need to re-apply.

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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