When it comes to taking care of clothes, most people aren’t doing all that they can to ensure that their clothes last as long as possible. But with the rise of awareness about the detrimental ecological impact of fast fashion and of throwing away old clothes rather than donating or recycling them, people are starting to realize a few things. First, that poorly-made clothes don’t last very long. Second, that well-made clothes can be expensive. And third, that in order for clothes to last a long time, you need to take care of them, and many people don’t know how. Here are some clothing maintenance tips that you should use to make sure your clothes last as long as possible for maximum time in your closet and minimum time in a landfill.
Follow the cleaning instructions
It may seem obvious, but you should follow the cleaning instructions on your clothes’ tags when you can. If something says to wash in cold water, don’t put it in a hot cycle since it’s probably not good for that fabric. This is especially important with dry-clean only clothing items. Yes, it’s a pain to need to take clothes to the dry cleaner’s and then pay for the service, but if the tag says dry-clean only, it’s best to follow the instruction and take it to the dry cleaner’s. However, if the original price of the piece of clothing was as much as or less than it would cost to get it dry-cleaned, you might just decide to cut your losses and hand wash the item since it might not be worth it to spend more money to dry clean something than you paid for it originally.
Rather than popping wet clothes into the dryer, lay them over drying racks and let them air-dry. They’re less likely to shrink or get damaged by the heat, it’ll keep your electric bill (and your carbon footprint) down, and it’s much less rough than the dryer, even if you use the gentle setting. Depending on the fabric, it also doesn’t take too long to dry, particularly if the clothes are hanging in a warm room or one with lots of direct natural light. You can also hang them out on clothing lines in your yard if you have one, although if you live in an area with plenty of odiferous smells, you may want to avoid that technique unless you want all of those odors in your clothes.
Turn your clothes inside out
If your t-shirt has a cool graphic or your pants have a great print that you don’t want fading, before putting them in the washer, turn them inside out. Washing machine cycles can be rough on clothing, so turning your clothes inside out can help keep the prints and graphics from getting pummeled by the cycle. Of course, if you want the graphics and prints to get that worn-in faded look, don’t turn them inside out before washing.
Fold, don’t hang, sweaters
Ever notice that your sweaters seem to get very stretched out over time? It might have to do with how you store them. Hanging your sweaters can save space in your drawer or on shelves, but it can also make the fabric stretch out in a way that can’t be reversed. To keep sweaters from stretching out while stored on a hanger, fold them instead to maximize their longevity. This can also help save your bars in your closet, since sweaters can be heavy and weigh down the bars, put a lot of stress on the walls, and potentially lead to wall damage if the bars collapse.
Everyone has a favorite pair of jeans or a well-loved top, but wearing pieces of clothing too often leads to more wear and tear, even if you try to take care of the items. It’s really just inevitable that the more you wear clothes, the shorter the amount of time they’ll last. Try to switch up the clothes you wear so that you have less heavy use of only a few items, and you wear all of the pieces in your wardrobe. Not only will you keep your clothes from damage, but you’ll also get to try new outfits and show off your style. You just might rediscover an item of clothing that you forgot you purchased and find a new favorite garment you already own!
Use mesh bags
When washing clothing items that are delicate, whether the fabric is liable to catching on zippers or buttons or it’s your bras and underwear, put the items in mesh bags before putting them in the washer. This keeps your delicate clothes from snagging on other, rougher items, and it also makes it easier when it comes time to fold and put away those clothes. An even better way to preserve delicate items of clothes, though, is to just hand wash them and avoid putting them in the washing machine all-together. Definitely don’t stick them in the dryer, even if you do put them in the washing machine, since that’s a sure-fire way to put delicate clothes on the fast track to destruction.
Give bras the special treatment
If you wear bras, you know how expensive they can be, so it’s important to take good care of them to avoid needing to buy new bras every few months or every season because that adds up very quickly. When cleaning your bras, hand-washing them is the least damaging, but if you can’t hand-wash, put them in mesh bags in the washer on a gentle cycle, and absolutely avoid putting them in the dryer. The dryer can ruin the bra’s elasticity and is overall just bad for the garment. As was mentioned before, skipping the dryer and hanging your clothes on a rack to dry is better for your clothes, the environment, and your electrical bill. What other reasons do you need?