Martha Stewart recommends readying clothes for the wash using homemade fabric softeners and laundry detergents, bluing fabrics, and knowing when to hand-wash and when to dry clean, among many other invaluable tips on her website.
Before actually washing fabrics, Stewart states that the clothes should be readied: all zippers should be zipped, snaps closed, and hooks hooked. Stewart warns that buttons should not be buttoned, as doing so results in pulls on the fabric and the stitching of buttons. When a stain occurs, it must be dealt with immediately. All solids should be quickly removed from the fabric. Then the fabric should be blotted with a white cloth to remove any excess liquid. Stewart states that wools, silks, rayon and linen should often be washed by hand. Other fabrics, like leather and suede, should only be washed by a professional.
Once your fabrics are ready to go into the wash, Stewart recommends that you use a homemade fabric softener and detergent. Manufactured softeners and detergents have heavy oils and fragrances that not only wear down fabric, but can also irritate the skin and trigger allergies. Stewart suggests “bluing” clothes, an old-fashioned method of putting a slightly blue garment in with whites to keep them bright.
To prevent fabric from degrading, be sure to use the correct wash and dry cycles on your respective machines. Stewart explains that the regular cycle is for sturdy soiled clothes, and other settings should be use for more delicate garments.