5 Ways To Make Your Clothes Last Longer
5 Ways To Make Your Clothes Last Longer
Whether you’re a total fashionista or you avoid the mall at all costs, you probably spend a lot more than you think on clothing. Since longer-lasting clothing means more money in your pocket, be sure you do all you can to preserve your wardrobe. Of course, it may require changing a few habits. Luckily, you don’t need special products to keep your whites sparkling and your dark garments looking sharp.
1. Rotate Your Clothes
The idea of “last in, first out” doesn’t only apply to produce, but to clothes as well. We all have a favorite pair of jeans that are snatched out of the dryer as soon as they’re clean, but rotating your clothes means less wear and tear.
One way that I track my garments is by rotating them in my closet. After laundry day, the clean stuff goes to the back, while the items still in the closet are moved forward where they’re easier to see and grab. Eventually, my favorite items rotate from the back to the front of the closet, where they can be seen and worn again.
This can be especially helpful for kids’ clothes. Children are traditionally pretty hard on their gear, so rotating it can mean fewer holes in their jeans and less fading on their shirts. Unless, of course, your little one has a “favorite shirt” – in which case, you might just be out of luck.
2. Practice Good Hygiene
It may sound simple, but practicing good hygiene – such as showering daily, wearing deodorant, and using proper undergarments – can help keep your clothes cleaner and in better condition. Don’t forget that sweat also causes stains. By insisting that your family members treat their clothing with cleanliness and care, you should get some extra uses out of each piece.
It also pays to make sure you wear the right clothes for the right events. If you know things are going to get messy at a birthday party, don’t send your daughter wearing an expensive lace dress. Or, if you’re going out to a bar where people smoke, opt for your cheaper wardrobe items.
3. Learn Basic Repairs
Learning to complete basic repairs on your clothing – such as replacing a loose thread or a missing button – can make them last longer and save you a ton of money. Even if you’re perfectly careful with your garments, fallen hems and buttons that pop off can take shirts and pants out of commission. You can always bring your clothes to a tailor for a fee, but why spend the money if you can do the repair on your own?
A simple sewing kit – which you can find at many big box retailers – costs just a few dollars and contains scissors, a variety of needle sizes, and thread. Even if you’ve never sewed before, online videos can teach you everything you need to know, from buttonhole stitching to repairing a zipper. If you can tie a knot in the end of the thread and weave the needle in and out of the fabric, that’s enough to get started.
4. Dye Faded Clothes
I have a pair of black skinny jeans that fit like a glove. Of course, after near-constant wash and wear, those black jeans are beginning to look gray and worn-out.
While looking for laundry soap at my local grocery store, I came across some easy-to-use clothing dye for just a few dollars. Simply add it to your sink or a bucket, add water, and follow the package directions for getting the best color. It usually takes 20 to 30 minutes of stirring to ensure even coloring. After the garment has been colored, rinse it with cool water and hang to dry.
Typically, garment dyes work best on solid colors, and can help to bring faded or stained clothes back to their former glory. A box of dye costs around $6 and contains two treatments. Just make sure that you wash your newly dyed item with like colors the first time you run it – the dye can come off on other items.
5. Pay Attention to Laundering
That tag found on the neck or down the side seam of your shirt is not for decoration: It gives you a garment’s laundering instructions, which are designed to ensure that it stays in great shape.
If you know you hate hand-washing and line-drying, avoid buying clothes that require special care. You’d be better off spending your money on sturdier items. In fact, looking at laundering instructions is part of my shopping process. Even if it’s a steal, a piece that requires dry cleaning could cost more in the long run – especially if you choose to ignore care instructions and end up ruining it.
Some other laundering tips can help keep your clothes in great shape. While you should always check the instructions on the tag, these are some general techniques to keep in mind as you hang out in the laundromat or laundry room.
- Wash Dark Clothing Inside-Out. Dark-wash jeans, black blouses, and other darker material can become faded in the wash, particularly as it rubs up against other garments. Always launder your washer-safe dark clothes inside-out to ensure they hold their color.
- Invest in a Clothesline or Drying Rack. If you don’t have a place to line-dry your clothes, they usually end up in the dryer – a death knell for line-dry-only garments. A clothesline only costs a few dollars and it can also help you save on energy costs. If you don’t have the yard or the climate to dry clothes outside, a drying rack for your laundry room is only about $20.
- Wash Metal Separately. Buttons and zippers often find their way into the wash, but can become seriously hot in the dryer, which can lead to scorching and melting on your other clothes. Wash clothing with metal components separately and never with delicate clothes, such as silks or knits.
- Go Color-Safe. Is there anything more frustrating than ruining clothes with bleach? While it helps make your whites whiter, it can also stain colored clothes and damage delicate fibers. Swap your regular bleach for a color-safe alternative, which is also gentler on fabric.
- Wash Your Clothes Less. The washing process is famously tough on clothes. Agitating, tumbling, and coming in contact with other garments can leave garments faded, stretched, pilling, and damaged. Unless your outerwear is visibly dirty, you probably don’t need to wash it after each wearing. See if you can extend washing to every other wear, or even three wears, before you toss your garments in the laundry.
- Get to Know Your Settings. While each make and model of washers and dryers is different, they all have something in common: They come with instruction manuals. Read up on your model so you know when to use “wrinkle release” as opposed to “delicate.” Delicate settings traditionally work well for lingerie, but they’re also effective for clothes that you want to preserve and treat gently. The delicate cycle uses less agitation, so there’s less wear and tear. This setting is perfect for lightly soiled stuff that requires a little extra care, or for items that specify the “delicate” setting on the tag.