We have come a long way from pounding clothes on the rocks down by the riverside to give them a cleaning, and the clothes we wear have come a long way too. Modern synthetic fabrics and blends of synthetic and natural materials, wool, cotton, linen and silk resist dirt and stains better than ever, but that does not mean you can toss everything in the wash and expect great results.


In addition to looking and feeling better — few morning rituals are as satisfying as slipping into a freshly laundered, crisp and clean smelling shirt — clean clothes last longer. Embedded dirt and grime cause fabrics to wear faster.


To aid the wearer and the experts who clean and launder specialty fabrics, manufacturers now include instructions for garment care on a tag that is attached to the clothing. Follow the directions or you may be disappointed.


“People remove the care tags sometimes, and that is one of the biggest mistakes we see,” Lauris Rios of the Snow White Laundry and Dry Cleaners in Denison said.


Snow White has been keeping Denison and Texoma in clean clothes for more than 100 years.


Rios said most commercial laundries and dry cleaners rely on the garment care instructions on the label and if they are missing, many laundries will not accept the garment for washing or cleaning unless the owner signs a release absolving the business from any damage that might occur.


“They should be dealt with as soon as possible, and we need to know what caused the stain to properly deal with it,” Rios said of stains. “Most stains will come out, and we have several ways to deal with them, but it all depends on what they are, and how long they have been there. The longer they have been there, the harder it is to get them out.”


The same advice goes for rips, tears and snags in garments. Holes do not get smaller; they get bigger, and the sooner a garment is repaired, the better.


Special items require special treatment. For example, Rios said Snow White takes leather items for cleaning and repair, but does not do the work in house. Twice a week, leather items are picked up by a company in Van Alstyne that handles the special cleaning problems and then delivers the items back to Snow White.


The generally mild climate of the Texoma region means the distinction between summer and winter clothing is not as pronounced as in other parts of the country. Still, as the seasons change, there are some garments you set aside until next year. Traditionally, wool garments gave way to cotton and linen in the summertime, and were packed away with moth balls to deter damage by those pesky insects. Many experts now consider moth balls toxic and a possible carcinogen, and do not recommend their use.


Alternatives to control clothes moths include dry cleaning, freezing, thorough vacuuming, or washing in hot water. Camphor is also used as a moth repellent, particularly in China.


Rios said that dry cleaning will usually provide moth protection for about six months. Older garments that have been stored for a long time, are often damaged by insects in ways that are not discovered until the item is taken out and cleaned. For that reason, most professional cleaners will not accept old or vintage clothing without a damage waver.


At the bottom line, clothing care is pretty simple. Keep your clothes clean, act quickly to deal with stains and repair damage, and let the experts handle the special items that are not recommended for home laundry.


And as for home laundry care, Rachel Talbott, a blogger who writes on a variety of modern homemaking subjects on the Web, offers some simple ideas for taking care of your clothes on wash day.


“Organize your laundry,” Talbott wrote. “When it is time to do laundry, carefully read the tags on your clothes and divide accordingly. Not only lights with lights and darks with darks, but cool dry with cool dry and gentle rinse cycle with gentle rinse cycle items. The more attention you pay, the longer your clothes will stay looking like new.”


And if something shrinks in the wash, Talbott advises to keep it damp and stretch it.


“Often times, damp items can be gently stretched back to shape,” she wrote. “After gently stretching the damp and shrunken item with your hands, try wearing it while it dries so it reshapes to your body. This is especially useful for fashion emergency situations!”


Talbott is an advocate of air drying clothes when ever possible, and warns that dryers, cause many fabric to wear excessively. But if dry you must, “…always clean the lint trap after every load and use the most gentle setting.”


Experts, Talbott included, suggest that clothes should be carefully folded or hung as soon a they are dry to prevent wrinkles, and hanging garments should not be crowed together in closets. Give them some room and breathing space to prevent unnecessary wear and tear.


Edward Southerland is a feature writer for Best of Texoma. For more information, visit BestofTexoma.com or www.facebook.com/BestOfTexoma.