The cold and rainy weather we have been experiencing this month signals the time to clean out your closets, store summer clothes and bring out your cold weather wardrobe. Clothing is an investment. Proper care and storage of your clothing is one way to reduce the need to buy new items and prolong the life of the items you already have. Here are a few clothing care tips to help you get the most from your investment.

Never store dirty clothing. When allowed to remain, soil and stains may become permanent or cause fabric damage. Soil and stains also attract insects. Treat and remove spots and stains as soon as possible. Be sure the person who does your laundry or dry cleaning knows where stains are as well as the type of stain.

Never hang a garment over a door knob or on a hook unless the garment has a loop in the neckline provided for this purpose. Even with a loop, limit use for prolonged hanging. Clothes hold their shape and wrinkle less when hung on the correct type of hangers. For tailored coats and dresses and for suit jackets, use shaped wooden hangers or padded hangers. For pants, use a bar hanger. For skirts, slacks and pants your may also use a clamp hanger. Tubular plastic hangers are a good all-purpose hanger for lightweight blouses, dresses and pants.

Do not store clothing in plastic bags as plastic can create a moist-rich environment that may lead to mildew. Take special care to see that freshly laundered and dry-cleaned clothing is completely dry before storing.

When storing seasonal clothing, or linens that may not be used for several months, avoid using fabric softeners, starch or any type of fabric sizing. These items can attract silverfish and crickets and support the growth of mildew and mold.

Clean and repair shoes and boots before storing. Store footwear in its original cardboard box, old pillowcase or a container that will allow them to breathe. Tightly sealed plastic boxes can promote mildew and mold on leather footwear. Shoe stuffers will help maintain the size and shape of your shoes.

Take time to organize closets and drawers. Do not overfill. Permit air to circulate. This distracts insects and freshens clothing. Make a point to clean out completely, vacuum and wash down closets once or twice a year. Sponge and wipe out drawers.

A little time and effort can make your clothing budget go a lot further.

Educational programs of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.

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