When I wore my favorite black shirt for the hundredth time earlier this week, I saw a thread hanging from it and wondered if the shirt was falling apart. I’m sure that we all have those moments when we dread our favorite piece of clothing becoming too worn to wear. Just think about those pants that fit so comfortably or that go-to sweater that matches everything. I certainly have some favorites that I’d love to last forever if possible. Not only do I want to keep what I already have, but also I want to avoid the time and expense of replacing clothes. Fortunately, those favorite clothes of yours and mine can last a little longer with some love and care.
Here are 10 ways to make your clothes last longer:
1) Rotate your clothing
Rotating your clothing allows for them to rest between wears. This is hard if you’re like me and have some favorites you want to wear every day. Try mixing up your outfits so that they’re not constantly worn and then frequently washed. When I find something I like, I buy two or more of that same item so that I can rotate them. This is especially true for shoes. They need to air out between wears to last longer.
2) Store your clothes with care
Storing your clothes properly will help them last longer. Some clothes do best being folded. Sweaters and knitwear may get shoulder bumps and stretch out over time when placed on hangers. Folding them neatly and storing them on a shelf or in a drawer will help them maintain their shape.
For items that need hanging, use the correct size and type of hanger to help keep its shape. There are hangers for every type of garment nowadays. You can find plastic, wooden, and non-slip hangers. Some are thicker for bulkier and heavier items like jackets and suits. Others are curved to better preserve the shape of your clothes. A little research and some trial and error will help you figure out which are best for your favorite clothes.
For seasonal clothing, launder items to get rid of any unwanted residue such as dirt or sweat before storing them away. Then use breathable garment bags (not the plastic bags from the dry cleaners) or store them in plastic storage containers with lids.
3) Hand wash & line dry
Hand washing clothes is great for items such as delicate sweaters and items with beading or fancy embellishments. Check the care tag before attempting to hand wash an item. Some will say to hand wash the item and reshape it to dry. If the item is too delicate to wring dry, I’ll gently roll it up in a big towel to remove excess water and then lay it flat to dry. A simple drying rack like this works wonders for hand washed clothes. It doesn’t take up much space and folds up neatly for storage.
I’ve found over time that some clothes say “dry clean only” but can withstand a light handwashing. If I don’t want to soak an item, I’ll steam clean it or put in the dryer with Dryel. This saves on the cost of dry cleaning and avoids exposure to chemicals used in dry cleaning that can damage fabric.
If you decide to use the dryer, be aware that it can shorten the life of your clothes. The hot air weakens, fades, and shrinks materials. This is especially true for elastic. Bras and underwear will look worn and stretch out much faster when placed in the dryer versus being lined dried. I’ve found that line drying athletic clothes helps them last much longer and reduces pilling as well.
4) Wash items less often
Have you ever washed a new shirt for the first time only to have it come out looking worn? It’s safe to say that washing wears out your clothes. Most outer clothing such as pants and shirts don’t get very dirty from one wear unless you’re sweating in them. Try wearing them a few times before throwing them in the wash.
5) Treat stains right away
Try to treat stains right away to prevent them from setting. I like to carry a Tide To Go Stain Remover Pen and dab it on the stain followed by gentle brushing or rubbing if I know the material can tolerate it. Dawn dish soap does wonders if you don’t have a Tide Pen or Shout stain remover around. Then wash the item as soon as you can.
6) Wash delicates in mesh bags or pillowcases
An easy way to wash delicates such as lingerie or those really thin liner socks is to put them in special mesh bags or pillowcases. This saves time (no hand washing!) and keeps odds and ends from getting tangled with something else in the wash. I’ll often turn sweaters and long-sleeve shirts inside out and wash them in large mesh bags too. This gets them clean while keeping their special embellishments and their shape intact.
7) Use cold water & the gentlest cycle available
Believe it or not, cold water gets clothes just as clean as hot water. My washing machine automatically picks warm or hot water on some cycles, so I change it to cold water every time I run it. Another benefit of using cold water is avoiding clothes shrinkage.
Similarly, if you’re not sweating madly in your everyday clothes, a smart option is to use the gentle cycle. This lessens the degree of agitation and intensity of the spin cycle.
8) Use dust bags and filling for purses
Dust bags are great for keeping purses free of dust and dirt. If your purse doesn’t come with one, try using a large cotton pillowcase to keep the bag breathable. Stuffing the purse with tissue paper will help it keep its shape as well.
9) Use shoe fresheners and shapers
After a day on your feet, your shoes may be moist and odorous. My favorite way to combat that is to use these all-natural deodorizers. Stuffing newspaper or using a spray can dry out shoes and eliminate the stink too. Other than that, rotating shoes regularly will help them last longer.
10) Mend holes and seams
After sewing up a few holes in my clothes, I’ve come to believe that a stitch in time saves nine. Use a thread that matches the color of your item and sew it up trying to follow the seam that’s already present. It may take a few trials if you’re new to it, but the stitching likely won’t be noticeable if it’s a small hole at a seam line like the armpit. All it takes is a few stitches to reattach a gemstone or sequin embellishment, making an item presentable again.
With spring in full swing and summer just around the corner, it’s easy to shop for new clothes and outfits. But take a look at those old favorites. They may last longer and still look great by following the 10 tips above. Save your wallet for bigger and better things!
Do you have any favorite clothes and accessories you wish would last forever? What do you do to make them last longer?