- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Q: I just bought a new fleece jacket for the season. Can you provide me with some care

tips to keep it soft and fluffy?

A: Fleece is a lightweight material that provides maximum warmth. Due to the nature of the fabric, it is great for water repellence and general outdoor wear. This soft, fuzzy fabric usually is made of polyester, and the long fibers forming the fuzzy surface have a tendency to mat and pill, leaving a rough texture.

As with many napped fabrics, matting and pilling may appear quickly on elbows, collar folds or other areas that receive repeated rubbing and abrasion during wear. Pilling and matting usually will occur throughout a fleece fabric after several wearings and cleanings.

While this damage may not be prevented altogether, it is helpful to minimize mechanical action in the recommended care process, which usually is washing. If the texture is matted, brushing lightly with a soft brush may help to smooth the fibers. Also, if machine drying, use a low heat setting and allow the garment to tumble freely to prevent glazing or fusing the polyester fibers.

Q: I have many styles of sweaters and want to make sure I care for them properly so they last throughout the fall and winter seasons and beyond. Can you give me some care tips?

A: There are so many styles of sweaters that can be made from a variety of fibers, many containing special decorative trims. Keeping sweaters in good condition, and in “shape,” can be a challenge.

Be sure to follow your sweater’s care label instructions closely to prevent shrinkage and stretching. Always place folded sweaters over padded hangers in a well-ventilated closet or place in drawers. Do not hang sweaters from the shoulders; the weight of the sweater can cause it to stretch. Be sure to empty pockets, remove belts and close zippers.

Knits snag and pull easily. These snags sometimes can be repaired or pulled through by a seamstress or tailor with a deft touch. Because of the weave, the snags often run along a line, so they damage inches at a time.

Sweaters also can pill after a few wearings. You can de-pill with a battery-driven shaver designed to remove pill balls. These shavers work very well, but be sure to practice first and use a light touch.

Finally, be sure to keep wool sweaters out of sunlight and away from fire or heaters, as these can cause the wool to yellow. If you have any other questions about caring for your sweaters, consult your professional cleaner.

Q: Thanksgiving is just around the corner and last year my mother spilled red wine all over the tablecloth during dinner. I just bought a new tablecloth and it would be helpful to know whether there is some way to get a wine stain out so I don’t get upset if it happens again this year.

A: The easiest way to prevent this problem is to serve white wine instead of red wine, but some guests may not appreciate this.

If you have to serve red wine and some spills on your tablecloth, it is best to attack the stain as soon as possible. Blot the area with paper towels to absorb the excess liquid and finish your holiday meal.

Once your guests have left, soak the area or the entire tablecloth in cool water if it won’t be washed immediately. Pretreat the area with a home stain removal product, household vinegar or a wine remover, which can be purchased at home bedding stores. Machine wash on gentle in the warmest water possible for the color. If traces of the stain remain, treat the area with 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, if it is safe for the fabric and the color.

Please do not follow the old wives tales about using white wine or table salt to remove red wine stains; they do not work and can cause additional problems. If your tablecloth is an heirloom or antique, you may want to take it to a professional cleaner.

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 [email protected]

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