It can be devastating when a treasured item of clothing is ruined by an accidental spill or tear. Fortunately, some special items can be saved with a few quick tricks. Leigh Mapledoram from Love your Clothes gives his top tips on how to combat the most common, yet frustrating, things that can go wrong with your clothes.


1)      A missing button:

Missing buttons can be irritating, but thankfully, they’re easy to replace, so don’t give up on that old favourite yet.  Choose a similar button (or use this opportunity to upgrade all the buttons to give the item a new look) and matching thread to blend in. A top tip for replacing large buttons is to place a match stick or large needle below the button as you sew, to allow a bit of give in the stitches when you fasten the button. For a step by step guide on how to sew a button, visit

2)      Stains:

Before you throw away that great garment because of an unsightly stain, have a look at our quick guide to see if you can salvage it using cheap and simple household items:

Blood: Pre-soak in heavily salted cold water or detergent.

Candle wax: Cover the stain with brown paper and use a warm iron over the top to draw out the melted wax.

Chewing gum: Put clothing in the freezer as once the gum is hard and brittle it can easily be scraped off with a knife.

Cooking fat: Create a paste of bicarbonate of soda and a little water to spread over the stain, leave for 30 minutes and then wash in biological detergent.

Crayon: If the crayon is soft, freeze the fabric to harden the crayon, and then scrape off the excess. Place the stain between clean paper towels and press with a warm iron to transfer the stain to the paper towels. Repeat as needed. Pre-treat with a pre-wash stain remover, blot and let dry.

Grass: Dab with methylated spirits and allow to dry and then wash as normal.

Ink stains: Spray with hairspray and blot with a paper towel. Biro stains can be removed by soaking in a little milk.

Mud: Pre-soak clothes as soon as possible in a bucket of cold water with three tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda for at least an hour. Then wash with a biological detergent.

Perspiration marks: Soak in white vinegar, rinse and then wash.

Red wine: Make a bicarbonate of soda and water paste and layer it onto the stain. Leave for a few hours, then moisten and then wash. You could also try continually rinsing with carbonated or soda water

3)      Holes

Snagging your favourite dress or discovering that your best jumper has a few moth holes isn’t the end of the world. You can mend it in a few stitches, by simply using a needle and thread. Choose a thread that is the same colour as the garment and in no time, you’ll have a virtually invisible mend using the darning method. For a step by step guide, visit .

4)      Shrunk in the wash

Washing and drying your clothing can sometimes result in unwanted shrinkage. Restore shrunken jumpers or other knitted items by soaking them in room temperature or warm water with baby shampoo or conditioner and then gently reshaping.

5)      Broken zip

Saving a snagged zip doesn’t need to be a chore. Many household items, including a good old-fashioned pencil, can be used to smooth out and lubricate roughened or uneven areas and slowly pull the zip up over troubled teeth. If that isn’t working you can try a range of other lubricants such as soap, petroleum jelly or lip balm just don’t forget to test a small section of the fabric with your chosen lubricant to see how it responds before getting started, to avoid staining the garment. Another common cause of zipper problems is bent or uneven teeth, but these can be carefully smoothed out using fine pliers.

6)      Frayed hems

This is always one that strikes when you’re out and about, but a frayed hem is a snap to fix, even on the go. You can cheat a neatly finished hem by using double-sided tape or safety pins for a temporary fix or repair the hem by either using hemming tape and an iron or a good old needle and thread. Choose thread that is as close to colour of the garment as possible and use a slip stich technique to secure. For a full step by step guide visit

7)      Smelly clothing

Bad smells can be difficult to remove, but there are things you can do to keep your favourites smelling fresh. Use diluted white vinegar to soak clothing or add it to the final rinse when washing clothing to remove unwanted smells. Alternatively, you could soak clothing in warm water (check the label as this might not be appropriate for all fabrics) with baking soda and then wash as normal.

8)      Dull Whites

Add half a cup of baking soda to your washing to gently bring your whites back to their brightest shade and reduce the amount of bleach you use.  Keep an eye on your whites and treat perspiration marks or other unsightly stains promptly to get the best results.

9)      Dingy jeans

Keep your deep rich indigo jeans dark by washing them on 40 C inside out. Faded jeans can also be dyed back to their best blue with over-the-counter dyes or you can get crafty and play up the faded areas by gently cutting or fraying jeans with a file or scissors to get that vintage, lived-in look.

10)   Style it out!

If all else fails, choose to cover unsightly stains or holes with vintage broaches or belts; layer pieces or customise garments by removing sleeves or shortening lengths. If nothing can be done, you can still give your clothes a new life by donating them to recycling centres. Even stained or ripped items can be used for their fibres, instead of sending them to landfill.

For more top tips, visit