Everyone owns a favorite item of clothing or two that has prematurely faded away. Sure, you can buy a replacement item. But you’ll probably never love it as much as it as that favorite sweater.
Not caring properly for our clothes is a waste — both of money and the Earth’s resources. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to extend the lifespan of your clothing. Following are 14 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 washer load — colors, delicates, whites, you name it. It’s usually not until we wash a red pair of pants with a white shirt 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 but aren’t visibly dirty, 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. I ruined a $50 mattress cover 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. 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 also can 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.
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
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.
Do you have more tips for keeping your clothes in great shape? Share them in comments below or on our Facebook page.