Prolonging the lifespan of our clothing will allow us to embrace ‘slow fashion’ and save money by reducing the amount of clothing we need to buy throughout our lives. We’ve all had certain garments that we’ve just chucked into the washing machine and dryer, only to ruin it because we didn’t look at the washing instructions properly.
By not taking care of our clothing, we end up throwing it away, only for it to end up in landfill or incinerated somewhere on the planet. It’s bad for the environment considering the pollution the clothing manufacturing process makes, only for it to end up somewhere that will cause more pollution. For this reason, it’s important for ourselves and our environment to make sure our clothes have as long a lifespan as possible.
With this in mind, here’s 15 tips to help make your clothes last longer.
1. Quality Over Quantity
In my opinion, you get what you pay for when it comes to clothes. Cheap garments won’t last long after repeated washes in the laundry machine and dryer, and may be more prone to shrinkage and fading. Look for clothes made from natural fibres like organic cotton, silk and linen as these will likely last longer than their man-made counterparts.
TOP TIP: If a garment comes with an extra button, that’s another good indication that the garment is well made as it usually means that the designer intends for it to last.
2. Protect The Clothes You Love
Look after more expensive pieces that you don’t wear often like that designer dress you love or the suit you only wear for interviews and important meetings in garment bags. This will prevent moths getting to them and help give them a longer lifespan.
TOP TIP: you should protect your clothes when doing certain things – like dedicate one tee (that you don’t mind getting damaged) to reuse when dying your hair.
3. Start Carrying a Stain Remover Pen
Stains can be a death sentence for clothing. It’s often also a determining factor for deciding when a garment has reached the end of its lifespan. It’s always best to deal with a stain when it’s fresh, so carry a stain remover pen with you in your handbag. Better safe than sorry.
TOP TIP: if you’re at home, wash it as soon as possible so the stain doesn’t set in.
4. Don’t Over-Wash Clothes
Believe it or not, your clothes last longer when you don’t over-wash them.
TOP TIP: Most clothes like jeans and sweaters are about 3 wears, coats once or twice a season, and close wearing clothes after each wear.
5. Lose The Floordrobe
At some point in all our lives, we’ve been guilty of clothes piling up on the floor. Make sure that you’re hanging clothes that you’ve worn in order to help keep them fresh, avoid wrinkles, and not pick up dirt or dust from the floor.
TOP TIP: Invest in some nice coat hangers so you can always keep your clothes hung up nicely.
6. Laundry Bags for Lingerie
This is one I personally *need* to start doing more. Lingerie and delicate fabrics can easily get caught in other pieces of clothing like zips which may cause them to become damaged. And what happens when they’re too damaged to wear? They end up being disposed of. By using a mesh laundry bag, you’ll help protect your delicates last longer.
TOP TIP: Reusable mesh bags are also great to put all your small items in like your underwear as well as socks to make it easier to sort afterwards.
7. Always Zip & Button Up
Reduce the chance of other clothes being damaged when washing, by zipping and buttoning up your sweaters and jeans before chucking them in the washing machine. This will help prevent your clothes from getting caught or tangled on each other and, ultimately, damaging your clothing.
TOP TIP: it’s always a good idea to check through pockets too, there’s nothing worse than getting tissue fluff on everything after realising too late that a tissue was left in the pocket of your jeans.
8. Care About The Care Label
There’s a reason your garment came with a care label. And you should care about it! It’s essential to look at this and see how your garment is intended to be washed. Certain garments need to dry flat or to be washed on a cold cycle only. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than taking one of your favourite garments out of the washing machine or dryer just to realise that it shrunk, faded or lost its softness. There’s no going back after that.
TOP TIP: If you have a laundry room in your home, it’s helpful to have a guide to washing symbols on the wall by your washing machine and dryer.
9. Sorting is Key
Once you’ve read your laundry tags, you need to sort your laundry according to those tags. Sort your laundry by colors, delicates, etc.
TOP TIP: Sort clothes into piles of similar colours, such as black and dark, white and light and colours. This should help prevent colours running or fading.
10. Don’t Overload It!
Think of it like Goldilocks and her porridge, she didn’t want too much, or too little, she wanted the perfect amount. The load of washing you put on is the same. If you try and put too many items in at the same time, the machine can’t wash your clothes properly. So it’s a waste of time even putting a wash on.
TOP TIP: Your washing machine should say what the maximum capacity the drum can hold is. Aim to fill it to a little less than that.
11. Cold is Kinder
You should be washing your clothes on a cold setting to prevent them from fading, shrinking and stains from setting in. It’s also more eco-friendly to do this, as it uses up less energy.
TOP TIP: have a look for the cold setting on your washing machine and look for laundry detergent that also works well on a cold setting.
12. Wash Clothing Inside Out
To reduce fading and prevent prints from unsightly cracking, turn your clothing inside out before you throw them in the washing machine.
TOP TIP: It might seem tedious having to turn them back the right way after they’re dried, but I promise you it will help, especially clothes with prints or text on them.
13. Choose to Hang
TOP TIP: There’s lots of options for drying racks and lines. Choose the one that works best within your home, whether it’s a free standing drying rack, something wall mounted or that hangs over your radiator.
14. Less Wrinkles? Yes Please!
When you are using the dryer, use eco-friendly wool dryer balls to reduce wrinkles in your clothing.
TOP TIP: These little life savers also reduce your drying time overall, so it’s totally win-win!
15. Close Those Closet Doors
Closets usually have doors for a reason, and that’s to keep clothes in a cool and dark area to protect them from things like mould, moths and sunlight. If clothes are exposed to direct sunlight over a long period of time, they can permanently fade a garment. And no one wants that, do they?
TOP TIP: If you do have a problem with moths, have a look at some solutions to keep them away from your wardrobe.
Remember: A little sewing knowledge can go a long way too. You don’t need to throw away clothes because a button fell off or there’s a small hole.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, or have any other tips to share, please leave a comment.