12 Insanely Useful Tips For Extending The Life Of Your Clothing

November 10, 2017

You are not your clothes, but you carry them with you wherever you go (unless you’re into, ahem, “liberated living” and all that, in which case this probably isn’t relevant for you so perhaps go look at a nice recipe instead). As such, it’s generally in your best interest to look after them. Whether you’re capsule wardrobe-ing or sauntering along with a mish-mashed closet, clothing should be seen as wearable investments that can be relied upon to last you through the seasons.

12 Insanely Useful Tips For Extending The Life Of Your Clothing

I know many of you Dumplings are also passionate about ethical fashion brands too. Many of these are pricier investments and so you really want to be sure that you look after your clothing well. Garment labels are there for a reason, but there is also a whole host of tips and tricks that I’ve combined here in one place for you (you’re welcome) for how to preserve them. Print this off and stick it on your washer, or save it on your phone. Have it at the ready when the laundry bells ring and be amazed at how much wear you get out of your wardrobe for years to come.

Use the sun. Air drying clothes is always encouraged because it uses less energy than tumble-drying but also is much more gentle on the garments. Dry whites in direct sunlight to keep them bright and colors in the shade to prevent them from fading.

Wash similar fabrics together. You’re probably already separating your whites, darks, and colors, but bear in mind that texture matters too. Throwing jeans in the same load as a delicate slip is never a good idea. With snags on zippers and buttons likely, use a delicates bag or even better–do loads by similar fabric type to reduce friction.

Lay flat to try. If you’re familiar with hand-washing, you’ve probably come across a couple of these in your time. The instruction is there for a reason. Although tedious, laying certain garments flat to dry allows them to keep their shape and not be stretched down by water-weight. To do this, lay out an old towel either on the floor or across an airer and drape the garment on top.

Air between washes. You’d be amazed how much you can extend the time between washes of hardier garments like pants, jeans, sweaters, cardigans, and skirts by simply airing them out for a while. Fabric can hold odors, but these often air out within 24 hours. In addition to your closet space, introduce a designated area for hanging out these kinds of garments, be it a small rail or series of hooks. Leave the culprit out for a day, then pop back in your closet ready for the next wear.

Befriend baking soda and vinegar. These two can do just about anything, from conditioning your hair to unclogging your crusty drain. Consider them for laundry purposes too. Baking soda can replace bleach in keeping your whites white, and vinegar acts as an excellent fabric softener and stain remover.

Fold rather than hang. Sweaters and any stretchy garments should be folded rather than hung so as not to stretch out and lose their shape. Try KonMari folding and never lose a piece again!

Inside-out denim. Wash any denim items inside-out to keep fading to a minimum. Also, be sure to wash on cold to avoid fading and shrinking.

Waterproof your shoes and bags. It’s the biggest killer getting caught out in the rain in a pair of shoes or a bag that really weren’t built to handle it. Prevent such occurrences by waterproofing all of these prior to wearing to dramatically extend their lifespan. It won’t make you feel so bad about investing in more expensive, higher quality pieces when you can watch the water roll right off them.

Don’t overload the washer. You might think it’s the environmentally and wallet-friendly option to stuff the washer full to capacity prior to starting a load. Bear in the mind that this can actually backfire. Too many clothes = less room for movement = more friction and wear on the pieces in the load. Fill your machine 2/3 to 3/4 full so there’s still room for movement and thorough cleaning.

A note on dry-cleaning. Dry-cleaning is incredibly harmful for your health and the environment, not to mention the clothing in concern. Most things can be spot-cleaned and hand-washed rather than dry-cleaned, however for inherited gems/vintage pieces/special occasion wears, try seeking out more environmentally-friendly dry-cleaning facilities and remove the plastic bag they’re returned in as soon as possible to air out the garment and allow any toxins to dissipate.

Consider dye. If you’ve got a favorite piece that still fits well but has lost its depth of color, often a dye can be used to give the garment a new lease on life. Look for natural/vegetable dyes that are light on the chemical load and get coloring.

Wash co-ords together. Whether it’s matching underwear or outerwear, try to wash co-ords the same number of times so that they can fade evenly. There’s nothing worse than planning on matching and realizing the two pieces are about 10 shades apart. Unless of course you never wear the two together, in which case, this need not concern you!

Take care of your clothes and they’ll serve you well. What are your top tips for keeping your clothing in tip-top condition?

Also by Kat: 4 Ways to Have More Time and Feel Happier

Related: Organic Cotton Underwear & Sustainable Lingerie That Look And Feel Like Pure Bliss

The *Definitive* Guide To Eco Friendly Jeans–13 Brands That Will Rock Your World

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Kat Kennedy is an Arizona-based physiology doctoral student and holistic health advocate writing about science, health, and her experiences as a third culture kid and global nomad. She's @sphynxkennedy everywhere.


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