The Beauty Solution: Clothing Care

Teresa Hunsaker, Consumer Educator from the USU Extension Office offers solutions to your nagging clothing care questions.


Ruffles are the rage right now. You can find them on blouses, dresses, skirts, around neck lines, on cuffs, and you can even find them on shoes, handbags, and belts. One challenge though, is keeping them looking nice and well shaped—they require some extra care when they are on our clothing.

Silk or synthetic fabrics: A steamer is the best option for loosening crinkled ruffles and frills. Be careful to avoid scorching your fingers while trying to control the wispy ripples of fabric. Use a clean soft brush as a tool instead of your fingers to help raise the ruffles and straighten them out while steaming.

Cotton and linen: Ironing is probably the best solution with these fabrics. This will give you a nice, crisp finish. To avoid indenting the rest of the garment, pull the ruffle away from the garment and place it on the ironing board. With the steam turned on, place the tip of the iron on the ruffle and press a section about three to four inches long, in a semicircle motion (shown, bottom right). Move on to the next section of the ruffle and repeat.

For a cluster of tiny ruffles: A steamer with a brush attachment works wonders here. If you don’t have one, hang the garment and use a burst of steam from an iron positioned about an inch away from the fabric to relax the creases.


One thing to keep in mind in reshaping the sweater cuffs is the fabric content—or what the sweater is made of, and whether or not the entire sweater needs to be reshaped. If it is just the sweater cuffs, you can soak them in hot water for a few minutes, lay flat, scrunch and shape, and let air dry. For some really stretched out cuffs you may want to use a blow dryer, or even an iron to help shrink the fibers back into place. Not all fibers can be dealt with in this manner—nice cashmere wool, or other high quality wools will probably not fare well with this process. For them there is not a great deal you can do other than try dry cleaning.


Sometimes we want a pair of nice new and darker jeans to stay that way, rather than always having the faded worn look to our jeans. One of the problems that we are up against is how to keep them looking nice and new. There are 3 main components to this dilemma:

Type of dye: Unfortunately we don’t know what type of dye was used, and there is no regulation on dyes used in clothing, so we are seeing a number of our clothing articles “bleed” or fade because of it. There are two solutions you can use to try and “set” the dye—at least it is worth a shot. Use 1 cup of salt to 1 gallon of warm water. Let the jeans soak for at least 30 minutes in this salt solution. The second solution is 1 cup of vinegar to 1 gallon of water. Again, let the jeans soak for at least 30 minutes. There are some that like to do both procedures, just be sure to rinse well in between.

Water temperature: Use a cool water temperature, not hot.

Detergent: Use a mild detergent—like a Woolite type detergent. Harsh detergents with oxygen bleach and other boosters can sometimes cause the dyes to fade faster.


The thing I have found for whitening dingy and grey “white” t-shirts is a product called White Bright. It is found in the laundry section of some supermarkets—mainly Smith’s. It works like a charm, but the fabric has to be “white” or it will bleach the color out of it. For those t-shirts that are colored but dingy, try using products like Oxy-Clean or even washing soda. They will brighten up those dingy tees pretty well.

“White Brite” is available at Ace Hardware stores. $6.99

“Oxy-Clean” is available at most grocery stores. $5-$8

Now for the stretched out part of the equation, this is a tough one because usually the t-shirts that get the most stretched out are the 100% cotton tee. Unfortunately that is the nature of the beast when it comes to 100% cotton knits. They stretch out of shape quite easily. You can try hot water washing and air drying flat, but it is not a guarantee. The best remedy for t-shirts is to treat them with tender care to begin with, and try buying a 50/50 cotton/poly blend. They hold their shape a bit better.

If you have any questions, contact Teresa Hunsaker at the Family and Consumer Science Education Department at the Weber County USU Extension office at (801) 399-8203 or online at

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