- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Q: This summer I decided to use a self-tanning lotion instead of tanning in the sun.

My tan looks great, and I know my skin is safer, but my clothes are getting ruined. How can I prevent this?

A: Self-tanners are great for that fresh-from-the-beach look, but they can discolor any material they touch. Orange, light tan, brown or yellow stains often end up on the edges of cuffs, collar folds, neckbands and the upper button areas of shirts.

Be sure to read the instructions carefully before applying the lotion. Most important, wash your hands immediately after you finish. Allow your skin a substantial amount of time to dry before you get dressed. It is worth the extra time because these stains are very difficult to remove.

If the product gets on your clothes, wash them as soon as possible in the hottest water temperature safe for colors or take them to a dry cleaner for professional stain removal.

Q: During the warmer months, I usually put on a few layers of deodorant for extra protection. Unfortunately, this has caused some damage and discoloration to my clothes. Can you help?

A: Buildup from antiperspirants and deodorants can cause fiber damage and yellowing. The aluminum chloride in the product weakens silk, cotton, rayon and linen, which can result in holes in your garments after they are cleaned.

To protect your clothing, allow sufficient time for the deodorant to dry before you get dressed, or use dress shields to form a layer between the deodorant and your clothing. Soiled garments should be cleaned as soon as possible to prevent buildup and fiber damage.

Q: How do you remove underarm stains from white shirts?

A: This may sound silly, but you should wash your shirts after each wearing to prevent buildup. Always use an enzyme-based detergent (look on the detergent bottle under “active ingredients”), which will help break down the perspiration staining. If a garment is heavily soiled, pre-treat the stains with detergent or other home stain-removal products for a half-hour to allow them to penetrate into the fibers. Then wash the garment in the hottest water possible. Check to make sure the stains are gone before drying or ironing. If the stains persist, repeat the process.

Q: We have an in-ground pool, and I went swimming with my children almost every day last summer. All of my bathing suits were faded before summer was over. I bought some new suits this year and am hoping you can tell me how to keep them from fading.

A: Spandex usually has good resistance to sunlight damage, but dye fading, fabric yellowing and deterioration may occur with repeated exposure to the chlorine in pool water. Because most damage comes from chlorine, it is important to rinse out your swimwear immediately after wearing even if you are unable to wash it. When washing, use cooler water temperatures to prevent dye bleeding.

High drying temperatures also can damage swimwear that contains stretch yarns. Therefore, line drying or laying the garment flat to dry typically is recommended. If you decide to tumble-dry your swimwear, use low temperatures to prevent damage to the stretch yarns.

Q: My comforter needs to be cleaned before I put it away for the summer. Do you have any care advice before I store it?

A: Before cleaning your comforter, be sure to check the content label to see what type of batting the bedspread uses. Polyester or down-filled comforters may be washed or dry cleaned as recommended on the care label. Some bedspreads and comforters contain wool batting, however, which can shrink excessively and distort if machine-washed or tumbled dry.

If you have a quilted or tailored bedspread or a comforter that is too large for home machine washing, always take it to your local dry cleaner because they have larger washers and dryers that allow the items to tumble freely during cleaning and drying. Anytime you have doubts about cleaning a comforter, check with a professional cleaner. Through adequate testing and expert cleaning procedures, they can prevent most problems.

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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