How to take care of your scarves

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Clean, dry, wear, repeat
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Take care of your scarves and your accessories will look good all season

Short, cold days call for pumpkin lattes, cider doughnuts and a soft scarf wrapped around your neck. Ideally this popular accessory looks as nice and feels as comfortable as the day you bought it, but not likely. Winter accessories endure the wear and tear of cold, wet weather and continuous usage for several months.

Take care of your scarves and they will keep you comfortable, dry and looking your best no matter how red your nose gets. The catch is that many require special care - you canít simply toss them in the washer.

Always look for the Care label first. If bought in a store, it should have a small tag that tells you whether to wash by machine or hand, in hot or warm water. If you canít find one, it may have fallen off or been removed. Don't worry. Care instructions for scarves, hats and winter accessories sometimes take a little detective work to find.

If you canít find the care instructions, refer to tags on clothing made with the same material. Same goes when you need to take care of your scarves made by hand, usually either knitted or crocheted. Find out what itís made of and clean per standard instructions. 

If the label says ďnot machine washableĒ, clean it in your sink by hand. The drying instructions are just as important. Some delicate materials will stretch if hung vertically while others will shrink if thrown in a dryer.

Hereís a basic guideline:

100% cotton

This fabric is durable enough for machine washing in warm water, but it stains easily. If you spill something on it, treat the stains with a remover before washing or it will set. Dry on a hanger in a sunny window and iron to remove any wrinkles.

100% silk

This delicate material is high maintenance, but worth the extra effort. Use a detergent specifically made for silk and let it soak it in soapy water for about 15 minutes. Work out stains gently with your fingers and rinse the soap out. Pat dry in a clean towel and hang away from a window.

100% wool

Wool is a gift to wrap around your neck in winter. Wash with wool sweaters and other garments. Dry on a hanger in direct sunlight. Wrinkles will fall out in a day, but if you must iron, keep a cloth between the iron and scarf.

It seems like there are as many different methods of cleaning as there are ways to wear a scarf! This one rule goes for all types: Avoid washing your colorful scarf with whites and vice versa. 


Cleaning fabric accessories is one of the most effective ways to make them last, but itís not the only one. Storage is also a huge factor. Packing them away properly this winter may be the difference between being able to wear them next fall and discovering the moths have gone to town.

Protect cashmere and other delicate fabrics by placing them in a plastic bag and putting them in the freezer for a few days to kill any bacteria or larvae. Wrap them individually in tissue paper and store in a garment bag or air tight container. For good measure, throw some lavender sachets on top to repel moths. Vacuum the storage area often to remove beetles, moths and other pests.

When in use

Raise your hand if youíre guilty of ďstoringĒ your scarf on the back of a chair during winter. This is understandable when youíre busy, but itís not good for the fabric. Hang until dry then fold and place on a shelf or in a drawer. 

If you have a large collection of colorful ones and prefer to see them when making a selection, keep them in a clear plastic drawer in a dark place during the cold season. Like shawls, larger oblong accessories made from durable material can be draped over a hanger.

Learning how to take care of your scarves is easy and ensures your favorite accessories are always clean and ready to wear when you reach for them.

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