How to Care For & Wisely Buy Children's Used Clothing

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Follow these easy steps to ensure that your child's clothes keep their good looks. Keep your Fred Bare Fabulous, your Esprit Excellent and your Target Terrific! And how to tell if a seller has treated their pre-loved clothes with the same respect.

Caring for your new clothes;

No.1  The Golden Rule of Laundry:

Turn EVERY garment inside-out before washing and drying. This makes a huge difference to wear and tear of your clothes. Ever noticed how that 'black' t-shirt is now green/grey on the outside and jet black inside? If it had been turned inside out prior to each wash the fading would not be seen. Washing machines are tough on clothes, the poor things are beaten inside a metal drum for an hour, dozens of times in their life span. Constant friction and full exposure to washing powders causes the outside of the garment to fade, threads and buttons to loosen, bruising of fabric, scratching of metals and allows pilling (fluff balls) to form. Make turning clothes inside out a habit - do it as soon as the clothes are taken off - it only takes a mo!

No.1  Buying guide

Has the seller mentioned wash fade? If not, use the ask seller a question button and ask! Many used garments will have lost some colour. Even 'never been worn' items may have lost that 'just bought' look after one wash. How can you check once your purchased item arrives? Stretch the elastic waistband on baby pants, is the fabric colour darker in the grooves? Look under the collar of that girls top or under that flap of a shirt pocket.

No.2  Open all buttons and Close all zips

Say this as your mantra while you stand in the laundry turning everyone else's clothes inside out! Leaving a shirt etc. buttoned up will cause strain on the stitching and fabric around the button. Save yourself the trouble of sewing buttons back on, or worse losing them or having a tear in the button band. Leaving zips open allows the delicate teeth to get bashed and twisted while being laundered. Closing it will keep teeth alligned and the zip in good working order. It will also prevent 'buckling' of the fly area, on jeans especially, and makes things easier to iron.

No.2  Buying guide

Has the seller described buttons and zips? Are there any replacements for lost originals or logo buttons? Find out if there are any nicks or tears in the fabric. Click on ask seller a question to find out if zips are in good working order.

No.3  Empty all pockets

If you've ever left a tissue in the pocket of your overalls before putting them in the washing machine then you'll know this rule already! The same applies to pens, lip balm and that strange thing your little boy found in the garden!

No.4  Check for Colour Fastness

Denim, brightly coloured or black garments can all cause laundry disasters. Brand new clothes should be checked for colour fastness before adding to your wash. Fill a light coloured basin or sink with hot water. Immerse the new garment for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the item, squeeze out excess water into the basin and check for dye run. If a lot of excess dye comes out you will need to wash the item separately and check again prior to the next wash.

No.3&4  Buying guide

Has seller stated if the garment is machine washable, hand wash only or dryclean only? Was the photo taken in daylight or artificial light? Does their listing state whether the item is 'Jet Black' or 'Pure White' for example? Will that BNWT (Brand New With Tags) Skate t-shirt have to be washed separately?

No.5  Remove all Belts, Buckles & Slides

Kids overalls often have removable slides, take these off prior to washing. Otherwise they will beat up everything in the washing machine including the drum itself! The same goes for belts and buckles. This also prevents them getting scratched or bent. Worried about replacing slides? Remove one first, put it onto a ribbon or old tie by copying how the other one is put together. Remove the second slide. After washing repeat the steps by taking one off the ribbon and putting it back onto the garment using the other as a guide. You will soon be an expert!

No.5  Buying guide

Check the item's photograph in the listing for metal parts - have these been described fully? Are buttons antiqued metal, wooden or plastic? Any rust or scratches? If it's important to you and the seller hasn't mentioned it then please feel free to ask questions! Are buckles, slide etc. adjustable to give you value for money?

No.6  Nip Stains in the Bud

Soaking in biological washing powder for a couple of hours usually gets rid of most stains. However don't leave clothes soaking for too long as it will weaken the fabric. Alternatively try this home remedy for dark liquid stains such as blood; Cover the dry stain with table salt, then pour lemon juice on top. Leave until the salt has soaked up the stain, repeat with fresh salt if necessary and then wash as normal.

No.6  Buying guide

The seller should describe all marks or stains. Have they shown the soles of shoes for example? Perhaps they are only noticeable on close inspection? Are marks light or dark, obvious or not? Of course that is a value judgement on the seller's behalf, but you could ask for a close-up photo if in doubt. Alternatively check sellers feedback comments on similar items.

No.7  Sizes and Measurements

Sizes are not standard between brands - a 'Size 12' t-shirt from Target my fit your daughter but a Size 12 Esprit top may not - or vice versa!

No.7  Buying guide

Used clothing may have stretched or shrunk. Check measurements given in the description and compare to your child's own clothing. The label may state: '9-10 years' but the garment might only fit your 6 year old. This is an important point to consider especially if there is no return policy.

No.8  Last but not Least: Dry and Iron Everything Inside Out

Sunlight fades clothes while drying on the clothes line, but if you follow the Golden Rule of Laundry this will not be a problem. Ironing clothes on the outside will cause flattening of fabric pile, shininess and may burn or melt transfer prints, damage sparkle or other attachments.

No.8  Buying guide

Little things mean a lot. How is the seller's overall presentation? Have they put some effort into their listing? The photographs should show the item for sale clearly and in its entirety. If the seller states that everything is washed and ironed prior to packing you can feel confident that they take pride in their work. Click on view sellers other items to get a feel for their way of describing items. Perhaps they have other items which are described as Perfect, Excellent, Very Good and Good. This could allow you to see the 'scale' the seller uses to describe condition.

Pre-loved clothing in excellent condition is readily available on eBay - you just have to look! Remember that many kids designer clothes are kept for best and therefore have had very little wear before being outgrown. Another advantage to buying pre-loved clothing on eBay is that you can end up with a unique item purchased overseas that no one else in the country has! Have fun searching. Take care of your own clothes and perhaps your next step will be 'how to sell on eBay'!

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