5 Clothing Hacks: Simple Solutions to Common Clothing Problems

Problem: White deodorant marks on clothes. 
Solution: Foam from a clothes hanger.

This is such a simple trick I wish I would have known years ago. Even though I saw this clothing hack demonstrated on TV, I still had my doubts about its effectiveness. But when I got "invisible solid" deodorant (does such a thing really exist??) on my Mr. T Experience tee, I remembered the hack and put it to the test.

I used the foam from inside a dry cleaner's hanger. You can cut the foam off the hanger, but I really like this hanger, so I kept it on. To remove the deodorant marks, rub the hanger foam directly onto the deodorant marks. The foam acts as a magic eraser, and the deodorant marks really do just disappear.

Problem: Pull tab of the zipper fly won't stay up.
Solution: Ring from a keychain.

Since most of my wardrobe is thrifted or from Ross, I occasionally run into problems with difficult zippers that refuse to stay up. Or maybe it's not the clothes, and it's my belly. Either way, I'm not down with walking around with an open fly. 

To keep the pull tab of the pants zipper up in its proper upright position, simply thread a thin keychain ring through that little hole on the zipper tab. When you zip yup, simply fit the keychain ring around your fly button. (Thick keychain rings work, but they tend to add a bulge.)

Problem: Zipper fly splits open.
Solution: Pair of pliers.

You zip up your fly and the zipper tab zips to the top of the fly, but the fly splits right open. Your pants are not ruined; you just need a pair of pliers to tighten the zipper tab so it catches on the zipper teeth as designed.

To fix a split zipper, pull the zipper tab down the teeth of the zipper to the very bottom. When the zipper is at the bottom, clamp pliers around the zipper pull tab. Squeeze the pliers to apply gentle pressure to the pull tab. Don't strong arm it or you may crack the tab. Remove pliers and zip up your pants. Pull the fabric on either side of the zipper teeth to ensure the teeth stay sealed together. If the teeth split apart, repeat the process.

On my first try fixing my split zipper, I had success, but it didn't last. The next time I went to wear the same pair of cut-off shorts, the zipper split again. I reapplied pressure with the pliers and haven't had any problems since.

Problem: Gum on clothing.
Solution: Freezer and credit card.

If you Google, "Remove gum from clothing," you'll receive pages of results with variations on the same freezing method. Since I managed to get three pieces of cinnamon gum on my dress in three different places, I tried different methods and decided (no surprise here) that Heloise's advice in Good Housekeeping to put the garment in the freezer is best. Some websites suggest icing the gum, but that just made my fabric more wet than frozen. As a professional fashion writer, when I write articles on garment care, I always turn to Good Housekeeping and Heloise's Hints as reliable resources.

I discovered gum on my dress after the dress went through the washer and the dryer, meaning it really melted into place on the polyester and spandex fabric.

To remove the gum, first peel off any whole pieces. I had three whole pieces stuck that peeled off without problem. Then stick the entire garment into the freezer. I bunched up my dress and put it in a bowl. Let freeze for an hour.

Remove the garment and scrape the gum off with a credit card. Some articles suggest using a butter knife, but I thought my CVS Care Card would be a lot gentler on the fabric. I would use a knife on jean fabric.

Once you've removed as much as the gum as possible, wash the garment in cold water. Check that all gum is gone before tossing in the dryer. Repeat process, if necessary.

Problem: Shrunk shirt or sweater
Solution: Conditioner and cold water. 

So I have a confession. Sometimes I do things I know I shouldn't, and then I almost always regret it. In this case: Impatience made me do it. I knew I should wash and dry my Mr. T Experience shirt before cutting it up. But I was impatient. So I snipped, snipped, washed, and then left it in a dryer that gets burning hot. As a result, the shirt significantly shrunk.

The shirt was still wearable (as demonstrated in the deodorant mark pictures), but I like my shirts to hang a little longer and comfortably cover the extra cushion above the belt line. 

I didn't really give too much thought to trying to "unshrink" it, but one of my heroes saved the day. Sorry Jesus, MLK and Corrie Ten Boom, but today I'm talking about Ellen and her "You're welcome" Tweets.

I did my research to ensure Ellen wasn't messing with her millions of followers, and then tried it out myself.

Result: I wasn't able to stretch out my shirt as much I would have liked, but then again, my shirt rolls at the bottom because it doesn't have a hem, so that may have affected the outcome.

To unshrink a shirt:

  • Fill a bowl with cool water.
  • Add roughly 1/4 cup of conditioner. (Ellen says 1 cup, but 1/4 cup was plenty in my experiment.)
  • Swish the conditioner around in the bowl and use your hands to break down the clumps. 
  • Immerse your shirt into the water. Let sit for at least 15 minutes. 
  • Rinse conditioner from the shirt with cool water.
  • Wring out the water.
  • Lay the shirt flat on some towels.
  • Stretch the shirt to the desired fit by pulling on the hems. With one hand, I held the neckline and with the other I tugged at the shirt hem. Then I reversed the process, holding the hem and tugging at the neck. I flipped the shirt over to tug some more. I tugged a little at the sides, but mainly I just wanted to add length. 
  • Finally, leave the shirt on the towels to dry. 
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