How to Handle a Baby: The Put This On Way!
Since Pete’s about to be up to his ankles in drool and spit up, I thought I’d answer a question that comes up surprisingly frequently in our email inbox. How do you deal with the combination of young kids and nice clothes?
The answer, to be honest, is pretty simple: you put your gosh-darned baby first. And take some reasonable precautions. To wit:
When you’re feeding or burping your baby, or your baby’s eaten recently, take off your coat. It’s probably dry-clean only, and it’ll be an expensive hassle to get clean.
The same goes for your tie. Ties can’t really be cleaned, so a stain is pretty much fatal. (Technically you can dry clean a tie, but most dry cleaners will crush it in the process.)
Use a burp cloth, and be quick to deploy it to problem areas. Don’t get arrogant and think you’re the zen barfmaster who can anticipate these things. A cloth on the shoulder can save your shirt.
Don’t be afraid to change when you get home. I presume that if you’re wearing dry clean only clothing it’s mostly to work. Put on a t-shirt and a sweatshirt when you get back to the house. Something washable. Your infant will not judge you.
Be prepared to have a little barf on you, and to do some extra laundry. This is what moms have been doing for centuries, and honestly - it’s just fine. It’s milk, not poison.
Look: having a baby barf on you can be quite trying. Sometimes I wonder if my baby even cares about my shirts. Sometimes I feel like he only cares about bright lights and my wife’s bosom. Overall, though, it’s worth it. (Bringing life into the world, I mean.)

How to Handle a Baby: The Put This On Way!

Since Pete’s about to be up to his ankles in drool and spit up, I thought I’d answer a question that comes up surprisingly frequently in our email inbox. How do you deal with the combination of young kids and nice clothes?

The answer, to be honest, is pretty simple: you put your gosh-darned baby first. And take some reasonable precautions. To wit:

  • When you’re feeding or burping your baby, or your baby’s eaten recently, take off your coat. It’s probably dry-clean only, and it’ll be an expensive hassle to get clean.
  • The same goes for your tie. Ties can’t really be cleaned, so a stain is pretty much fatal. (Technically you can dry clean a tie, but most dry cleaners will crush it in the process.)
  • Use a burp cloth, and be quick to deploy it to problem areas. Don’t get arrogant and think you’re the zen barfmaster who can anticipate these things. A cloth on the shoulder can save your shirt.
  • Don’t be afraid to change when you get home. I presume that if you’re wearing dry clean only clothing it’s mostly to work. Put on a t-shirt and a sweatshirt when you get back to the house. Something washable. Your infant will not judge you.
  • Be prepared to have a little barf on you, and to do some extra laundry. This is what moms have been doing for centuries, and honestly - it’s just fine. It’s milk, not poison.

Look: having a baby barf on you can be quite trying. Sometimes I wonder if my baby even cares about my shirts. Sometimes I feel like he only cares about bright lights and my wife’s bosom. Overall, though, it’s worth it. (Bringing life into the world, I mean.)

A Cheap Iron
A year or two ago, I got inspired to up my ironing game. I read some iron reviews and bought the fanciest one. It was a gorgeous Rowenta, just like Derek’s, and I was in heaven. Ironing was so easy! The Rowenta was so powerful! It was the best $150 I’d ever spent.
Until it broke. Which, looking at the consumer reviews, the ones that last past initial performance, seems to happen a LOT with Rowentas. And of course, there’s no small appliance repair in my neighborhood anymore.
So I faced a choice: I could replace the Rowenta, and run the risk of having it break again. I could buy a professional iron, which, with professional ironing board, would cost $500 or so. Or I could go cheap. I went cheap.
After looking at even more reviews than I looked at the first time, I picked the Black & Decker Digital Advantage. It costs $47. It was head-and-shoulders above any other inexpensive iron in performance in ever review. Its reliability was superb. And its performance is pretty darn good.
Sometimes when I’m ironing, I miss my old Rowenta. And I think about getting a $300 Reliable, like the pros use. (Incidentally, word is that Reliable’s cheaper consumer models aren’t worth the money - you need a separate steam generator to get great performance.) But frankly, I don’t think about that stuff all that often. Mostly, my Black and Decker is a solid performer. It heats up quickly, it puts out decent steam, and it glides smoothly. For less than fifty bucks, I’m not gonna complain.

A Cheap Iron

A year or two ago, I got inspired to up my ironing game. I read some iron reviews and bought the fanciest one. It was a gorgeous Rowenta, just like Derek’s, and I was in heaven. Ironing was so easy! The Rowenta was so powerful! It was the best $150 I’d ever spent.

Until it broke. Which, looking at the consumer reviews, the ones that last past initial performance, seems to happen a LOT with Rowentas. And of course, there’s no small appliance repair in my neighborhood anymore.

So I faced a choice: I could replace the Rowenta, and run the risk of having it break again. I could buy a professional iron, which, with professional ironing board, would cost $500 or so. Or I could go cheap. I went cheap.

After looking at even more reviews than I looked at the first time, I picked the Black & Decker Digital Advantage. It costs $47. It was head-and-shoulders above any other inexpensive iron in performance in ever review. Its reliability was superb. And its performance is pretty darn good.

Sometimes when I’m ironing, I miss my old Rowenta. And I think about getting a $300 Reliable, like the pros use. (Incidentally, word is that Reliable’s cheaper consumer models aren’t worth the money - you need a separate steam generator to get great performance.) But frankly, I don’t think about that stuff all that often. Mostly, my Black and Decker is a solid performer. It heats up quickly, it puts out decent steam, and it glides smoothly. For less than fifty bucks, I’m not gonna complain.

Q and Answer: Can I Get Bedbugs From Used Clothes on eBay?
Dwight asks: What is the risk of getting bedbugs from an eBay purchase and what are the proper steps to mitigate them?
The risk of getting bedbugs from an eBay or other second-hand clothing purchase is very small, but it’s not zero. It’s increased a bit if you’re shopping somewhere where bedbugs are more widespread, like New York City. Bedbugs prefer the regular blood meals that bedding provides, so they don’t travel much via clothing, but they can go without eating for quite a long time. If they end up in clothes, they can hang out for up to a year, waiting for snacking conditions to improve.
Luckily, if you’re concerned about bedbugs, it’s very simple to kill them.
Bedbugs can’t live in temperatures over about 115 degrees. So, if you want to kill any bedbugs that might be hiding out on a garment, just put it in the drier on hot for a few minutes. Expert recommend 15 or 20 to be safe, but say that even five or ten should do it. Dry cleaning will also kill bed bugs, so if you have a dry clean only garment, there’s no need to put it in the laundry.
Of course, cleaning second-hand clothes is good practice anyway. While some second-hand stores and vendors dry-clean clothing, some don’t, and dry-cleaning or laundering your new-old clothes will also eliminate the risk of bringing another terrifying pest into your home: clothing moths.

Q and Answer: Can I Get Bedbugs From Used Clothes on eBay?

Dwight asks: What is the risk of getting bedbugs from an eBay purchase and what are the proper steps to mitigate them?

The risk of getting bedbugs from an eBay or other second-hand clothing purchase is very small, but it’s not zero. It’s increased a bit if you’re shopping somewhere where bedbugs are more widespread, like New York City. Bedbugs prefer the regular blood meals that bedding provides, so they don’t travel much via clothing, but they can go without eating for quite a long time. If they end up in clothes, they can hang out for up to a year, waiting for snacking conditions to improve.

Luckily, if you’re concerned about bedbugs, it’s very simple to kill them.

Bedbugs can’t live in temperatures over about 115 degrees. So, if you want to kill any bedbugs that might be hiding out on a garment, just put it in the drier on hot for a few minutes. Expert recommend 15 or 20 to be safe, but say that even five or ten should do it. Dry cleaning will also kill bed bugs, so if you have a dry clean only garment, there’s no need to put it in the laundry.

Of course, cleaning second-hand clothes is good practice anyway. While some second-hand stores and vendors dry-clean clothing, some don’t, and dry-cleaning or laundering your new-old clothes will also eliminate the risk of bringing another terrifying pest into your home: clothing moths.

Don’t Dry Clean Sweaters.

Please. Just hand wash them. Every few months, if they need it.

How to Dry Clothes Properly
An electric, heat-conducing dryer is the enemy of all clothing. Cotton fibers are supposed to have some humidity in them, but when they’re run through a dryer, they become brittle, break, and eventually take on a dull, worn-out appearance. In fact, all that lint you find is composed of the yarns that your dryer has robbed. Plus, dryers shrink clothes and crack mother-of-pearl buttons. They’re really quite terrible. 
Thus, I strongly recommend that you hang dry. This past summer, Jesse put up a clothesline in his backyard. As you can see, you should hang your clothes upside down with clothespins. This will help you avoid pinch marks on your shoulders. 
The other option is to hang dry them indoors. You can use regular clothes hangers for this. If you don’t want to get creases on your shoulders, throw wash cloths under them. 
My own practice, however, is to hang things on a clothing rack, which I place either indoors or outdoors, depending on the weather. Mine looks very much like this (though it’s not this exact model). There are many designs on the market, but I like this one because it has racks on racks on racks (sorry, had to) for my slacks on slacks on slacks (had to again). The greater amount of hanging space means I can fit about two loads of laundry on it. I also prefer metal to wood since I find it much sturdier. When it’s not in use, it folds up into a flat, thin frame and is stored away. 
This method obviously takes longer than a using an electric dryer, but it will add years to the life of your clothes. If you have lower-quality garments, like Hanes athletic tube socks, I’m sure it’s not the end of the world if you throw them in the dryer. For higher-quality garments, however, let them hang dry. If for some reason you must put them in the dryer, at least use the “no heat” setting.
You can buy a good clothing rack for between $30 and $60. Just look online, perhaps on Amazon, or go to your local Bed, Bath, and Beyond. It’s not the cheapest purchase, but when you consider how much you’ll save in energy bills and replacing clothes, it’s a smart investment. 

How to Dry Clothes Properly

An electric, heat-conducing dryer is the enemy of all clothing. Cotton fibers are supposed to have some humidity in them, but when they’re run through a dryer, they become brittle, break, and eventually take on a dull, worn-out appearance. In fact, all that lint you find is composed of the yarns that your dryer has robbed. Plus, dryers shrink clothes and crack mother-of-pearl buttons. They’re really quite terrible. 

Thus, I strongly recommend that you hang dry. This past summer, Jesse put up a clothesline in his backyard. As you can see, you should hang your clothes upside down with clothespins. This will help you avoid pinch marks on your shoulders. 

The other option is to hang dry them indoors. You can use regular clothes hangers for this. If you don’t want to get creases on your shoulders, throw wash cloths under them. 

My own practice, however, is to hang things on a clothing rack, which I place either indoors or outdoors, depending on the weather. Mine looks very much like this (though it’s not this exact model). There are many designs on the market, but I like this one because it has racks on racks on racks (sorry, had to) for my slacks on slacks on slacks (had to again). The greater amount of hanging space means I can fit about two loads of laundry on it. I also prefer metal to wood since I find it much sturdier. When it’s not in use, it folds up into a flat, thin frame and is stored away. 

This method obviously takes longer than a using an electric dryer, but it will add years to the life of your clothes. If you have lower-quality garments, like Hanes athletic tube socks, I’m sure it’s not the end of the world if you throw them in the dryer. For higher-quality garments, however, let them hang dry. If for some reason you must put them in the dryer, at least use the “no heat” setting.

You can buy a good clothing rack for between $30 and $60. Just look online, perhaps on Amazon, or go to your local Bed, Bath, and Beyond. It’s not the cheapest purchase, but when you consider how much you’ll save in energy bills and replacing clothes, it’s a smart investment. 

Hanging to dry is better for your shirts and better for mother nature. If you have a backyard, take advantage of it. I just hung this clothesline two weeks ago, and I’ve been line drying like a madman.

Hanging to dry is better for your shirts and better for mother nature. If you have a backyard, take advantage of it. I just hung this clothesline two weeks ago, and I’ve been line drying like a madman.

Q and Answer: How to Clean a Tie
Norm writes: I recently bought a lovely cornflower blue silk tie. I first wore  it about two weeks ago, but it was only today that I discovered several  small spots near the point or unknown origin. Do you have any  recommendation on how to clean a silk tie? All I have ever heard is to  not use water. Is it even worth cleaning a silk tie or should I just buy  a new tie (assuming I can find a similar tie, of course)?
First, the bad news: you’re probably screwed.
There are, however, some things you can try should you happen to stain a necktie.
First of all, you can take it to the professionals. Don’t send it the cleaner unless you have one you trust absolutely to spot clean without dry cleaning or pressing. Send it to a necktie specialist. Tiecrafters, in New York, have been specializing in cleaning ties for more than fifty years. They take ties by mail, and they will spot clean your ties and refresh them, without pressing them flat as most dry cleaners will. The service costs $11.75 per tie, with a minimum order of four. Not cheap, but worth it if you’re talking about a favorite tie.
If you don’t want to take that route, you can try to treat the stain at home. If it’s a grease stain, first put some talcum powder or corn starch on top of the stain and allow it to sit overnight. Then brush off the talc, which will have absorbed some of the grease. This can be repeated until the grease stain is invisible.
For other types of stains, you can try a standard spray stain remover - spray it on the stain (don’t soak) and blot to dry with a clean cloth. This may remove color from the tie along with the stain, but that’s the risk you must take.You can treat ties with a fabric protectant like Scotchguard if you like. I’ve never done this myself, but I’ve heard from those that do that they notice no difference in the appearance of the tie.

Q and Answer: How to Clean a Tie

Norm writes: I recently bought a lovely cornflower blue silk tie. I first wore it about two weeks ago, but it was only today that I discovered several small spots near the point or unknown origin. Do you have any recommendation on how to clean a silk tie? All I have ever heard is to not use water. Is it even worth cleaning a silk tie or should I just buy a new tie (assuming I can find a similar tie, of course)?

First, the bad news: you’re probably screwed.

There are, however, some things you can try should you happen to stain a necktie.

First of all, you can take it to the professionals. Don’t send it the cleaner unless you have one you trust absolutely to spot clean without dry cleaning or pressing. Send it to a necktie specialist. Tiecrafters, in New York, have been specializing in cleaning ties for more than fifty years. They take ties by mail, and they will spot clean your ties and refresh them, without pressing them flat as most dry cleaners will. The service costs $11.75 per tie, with a minimum order of four. Not cheap, but worth it if you’re talking about a favorite tie.

If you don’t want to take that route, you can try to treat the stain at home. If it’s a grease stain, first put some talcum powder or corn starch on top of the stain and allow it to sit overnight. Then brush off the talc, which will have absorbed some of the grease. This can be repeated until the grease stain is invisible.

For other types of stains, you can try a standard spray stain remover - spray it on the stain (don’t soak) and blot to dry with a clean cloth. This may remove color from the tie along with the stain, but that’s the risk you must take.
You can treat ties with a fabric protectant like Scotchguard if you like. I’ve never done this myself, but I’ve heard from those that do that they notice no difference in the appearance of the tie.

University of Illinois Extensions’ Stain Solutions

I was reading the Wall Street Journal’s article on underarm sweat stains and came across this excerpt

The University of Illinois Extension Stain Solutions department recommends a daunting regimen to treat a yellow underarm stain. It urges scraping off any excess material with a blunt kitchen knife, soaking the garment for 15 minutes in a quart of lukewarm water, half a teaspoon of dishwashing detergent and one tablespoon ammonia, gently rubbing from the back to loosen the stain, soaking another 15 minutes, then rinsing. 

If it doesn’t go away, soak the stain in a laundry detergent that contains enzymes for at least half an hour, then put in the washing machine. An older stain should be soaked for several hours. Then launder. If the stain remains stubborn, use chlorine beach, if safe, on white shirts and oxygen bleach on colors.

It seems like good advice to keep on hand, in addition to Jesse’s recommendation of vinegar and OxyClean, given that temperatures are about to rise. 

More importantly, I Googled around and found the University of Illinois Extensions’ stain solutions website. I’m not sure it’s a “department,” in the academic sense, but it does seem incredibly comprehensive and useful. Click here to see an index to every kind of stain solution you can imagine. You can also click here to read their general suggestions, as well as here to read a list of products you might want to have on hand in order to deal with stains. 

This might be a good thing to bookmark, and then refer to when you need it. Lord knows I prostrate in front of my washer every time my clothes get stained. It’ll probably be good to employ something a bit more scientific in the future. 

I jokingly remarked on Twitter earlier today that the key to ironing was putting the thing you want flat under the iron. I genuinely believe that many people, especially many men, are unduly afraid of ironing. Frankly, it’s pretty easy if you have decent equipment and you don’t expect perfection of yourself.

Above I’ve posted a nice, simple how-to from the folks at the English shirt company TM Lewin. It gets all the basics along with a little trick that I’ll have to try: buttoning the collar to do the shirt’s body.

My main advice is to get a good iron - I like my Rowenta, which was about a hundred bucks on eBay. I think it’s tough to understand how much different the good iron ironing experience is from the cheap iron ironing experience without trying it, but suffice it to say I’m very happy with my investment. When my mother-in-law visited, she literally exclaimed at how easily her ironing went. A really nice iron helps make the spray bottle a bit redundant, though go for it if you don’t mind keeping it on hand.

I do my ironing after my wife does the laundry (along with her ironing). I ask her to take the shirts out of the drier when they’re still very slightly damp, and then I iron while I watch TV. An episode of Archer later, I’m usually done with a pile of eight or ten. Frankly, I don’t try to get everything perfect. I don’t mind a little rumpling from time to time - it builds character.

Using Oxiclean for Stain Removal
In Episode 4 of Put This On, I address using Oxiclean to remove stains - particularly underarm stains.
You can find the exhaustive system we recommend for removing even bad stains here, but here are some basics.
To boost your laundry’s cleaning power, add two or three scoops of Oxiclean to the load.
To make an Oxiclean soak, mix four scoops of Oxiclean with each gallon of water. You can then soak garments for as long as 24 hours.
To make a super-concentrated pre-treatment, add one scoop of Oxiclean to about 12 ounces of water - that’s about a water glass full.
You should always test if you’re concerned about color fastness, but I’ve frankly never had Oxiclean take color out of my clothes.

Using Oxiclean for Stain Removal

In Episode 4 of Put This On, I address using Oxiclean to remove stains - particularly underarm stains.

You can find the exhaustive system we recommend for removing even bad stains here, but here are some basics.

To boost your laundry’s cleaning power, add two or three scoops of Oxiclean to the load.

To make an Oxiclean soak, mix four scoops of Oxiclean with each gallon of water. You can then soak garments for as long as 24 hours.

To make a super-concentrated pre-treatment, add one scoop of Oxiclean to about 12 ounces of water - that’s about a water glass full.

You should always test if you’re concerned about color fastness, but I’ve frankly never had Oxiclean take color out of my clothes.