14 Ways to Make Clothes Last Longer

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I own a beautiful black sweater that has nearly faded to gray. You probably have an article of clothing that has suffered a similar fate.

You and I may find comfort by telling ourselves that it can be easily replaced — “Oh, great. An excuse to go clothes shopping!” — but we both know what a waste this was.

Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson, in the video below, offers some great advice to care for your clothing and extend their wearability. Watch the video, then read on for more tips.

Use these preventive measures to preserve your wardrobe and your wallet:

1. Sort carefully

While this might seem like a no-brainer to many, plenty of people combine everything in one load — colors, delicates, whites, you name it. It’s usually not until we wash a red pair of pants with white socks that we realize the importance of sorting clothes and washing colors and whites separately.

2. Don’t wash jeans after one wearing

Jeans don’t need to be washed every time you wear them. Unless they’re stained or covered with mud or dirt, you can get away with washing them every third time you wear them. If they start to feel loose by the second or third wearing, throw them in the dryer for a few minutes.

3. Hang dry your clothing

While we love the convenience of dryers, our clothes do not. Dryers actually weaken the fabric’s fibers much faster than if clothing is air-dried. (Where do you think the lint in your dryer’s lint screen comes from?) Plus, if your dryer malfunctions, items inside can be damaged. A $50 mattress cover I had was ruined that way.

4. Watch your zippers and buttons

Zip up the zippers on your jeans and hoodies so they don’t catch on other clothing in the washing machine. On the other hand, don’t button your buttons. Otherwise, the buttons and buttonholes could be damaged.

5. Turn your clothes inside out

Turning all your clothing inside out before washing and when ironing will preserve the quality (including color) and life of them. This is particularly true for T-shirts, sports jerseys and items subject to pilling.

6. Use cold water

Not only does using cold water save energy and money, it also saves your clothing. Hot water causes some clothing to shrink and wrinkle.

7. Don’t over-dry clothing

A hot dryer is likely the reason your favorite skirt shrank, or your T-shirts wrinkled. (Do you really want to iron those?) If you’re going to use a dryer, keep clothes in the dryer until they are dry or just about dry, but not a minute longer.

8. Don’t overload the washer and dryer

We’re all guilty of this, mostly because we want to save time and don’t want to deal with a second load of laundry. But stuffing the washer means clothes won’t get as clean, and you may damage the washer in the long run. Overloading the dryer can prevent clothes from drying properly and can also damage that machine.

9. Use white vinegar

White vinegar is an inexpensive fabric softener. It doesn’t stain your clothes or make them smell like vinegar. Add three-quarters of a cup to your final rinse cycle.

10. Wear undershirts

Wearing an undershirt is a simple solution to embarrassing sweat stains that can also ruin our clothes.

11. Use coffee or tea for fading black clothes

Adding some strong coffee or tea to your rinse water can help black clothing maintain its dark shade. LifeTips says washing black clothing with Ivory Soap Flakes and a small amount of detergent in cold water will prevent future fading.

12. Take your work clothes off when you get home

Who wants to stay in a suit or dress anyway? Change into more comfortable clothes when you get home to avoid cooking stains and extra wear on your best attire.

13. Read the labels

This one’s another no-brainer, though plenty of us forget or simply ignore the labels. Before you wash anything, especially delicate clothing, be aware of the label instructions and follow them accordingly. If it’s dry-clean-only, don’t deviate. That could be a big mistake.

14. Rotate your wardrobe

If you wear the same shirt every week, it’s naturally going to wear out sooner than other clothes in your closet. To prevent this, start a clothing rotation. After you wash your most recently worn clothes, move them to the back of the line in your rotation.

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