#LifeHacks: Tips to Make Your Clothes Last
Who doesn’t want their clothes to last? For you eco-conscious guys and gals, making clothes last longer is the first step to avoiding fast fashion and maintaining a sustainable wardrobe. For the budget conscious crowd, making sure the clothes you spend money on last means not having to buy more. And for those of us who love clothes and invest in quality pieces, I can speak for all of us when I say we, too want our clothes to last.
And if you follow these simple hacks, I promise your clothes will look better and last longer.
Turn your clothes inside out before you wash them. I do this with almost all of my clothes, but it is especially helpful for dark garments to prevent them from fading. Any t-shirts or items with print on them will also benefit from being turned inside out.
Don’t over-wash your clothes. Running things through a washing machine with detergent takes a tole on them. This may come as a surprise, but if you wear something one time that doesn’t mean it’s time to wash it. Unless it is visibly dirty or actually smells, wearing something once is usually not enough to warrant a wash. Most garments like shirts and jeans can be worn about three times before they hit the laundry basket.
When you do wash, use cold water. When you wash your clothes with cold water as opposed to hot, they are much less likely to shrink or fade.
Put delicates in a garment bag before washing. Delicate items like bras and underwear, and even some thinner tank tops and shirts can really take a beating in the wash. Prevent things from getting twisted, tangled and possibly damaged by investing in a few garment bags.
Swap the dryer for a drying rack. Dryers are definitely convenient, but they aren’t doing us any favors in terms of extending the life of our clothes. Avoid overheating garments, which breaks down the elasticity and can lead to unwanted stretching, by hang drying them on a drying rack which is much more gentle on fabrics. Personally, I only use a dryer to dry my sheets, towels and socks; everything else I hang dry on my handy, dandy drying rack. If you don’t want to hang dry all of your clothes, at least give it a shot for particularly delicate items like bras and active-wear.
Dry clean your dry clean only clothes, especially at the end of the season. As with your clothes you wash at home, things that need to be dry-cleaned can typically be worn several times before actually needing to be cleaned. How long you can wait before washing them depends on how dirty they are, but things like suit coats can usually be worn several times and wool can easily stand up to 20 wears before needing to be cleaned. Pro tip: at the end of every season, get your dry cleaning done. This is especially important for things like winter coats, knits and wool. Doing this at the end fo the season - especially if you are going to store them away will prevent permanent stains and discoloration, avoid insect infestations (like moths!!) and keep your clothes looking, and smelling, fresh!
Wash things in vinegar to set the color. Ever wear a new pair of jeans and then look at your hands and they are dark blue with ink? Yeah, that’s because the dye in your jeans probably wasn’t set properly. But don’t worry, you can easily do it yourself. Set your washer to the lowest water level with cold water and add 2 cups of white vinegar. Put the garment in the washer so it's completely submerged in the vinegar/water solution and let it soak for a few hours before running the wash cycle (don’t add any detergent). without adding any detergent.
Reinforce your buttons. I have bought so many brand new blouses, sweaters, jackets that had loose buttons on them. Do not wear something that already feels like it’s about to fall off. It will and that sucks. Instead, reinforce your buttons by double stitching them - a seamstress or dry cleansers will do this for you if you are lacking in the home ec department.
Be sure to reheel and/or resole your shoes. If you invest in a nice pair of heels or boots, be sure to take them to a professional leather/shoe repair store to have them resoled and/or reheeled when needed. When you need to do that is obviously based on the shoe and how often you wear. There are some obvious sings like if the heels are uneven, if there is a hole, if the sole is separating from the shoe or if they just look really worn. Some other tips for taking care of shoes would be cleaning suede shoes with a suede brush, weatherproofing your shoes and cleaning leather shoes with polish.
Treat stains ASAP. The sooner you can wash and treat a stain, the better your chances of getting it out. So wash and treat stains right when they happen. Pro tip: carrying a stain stick pen with you can definitely help in a pinch.
Store things the right way! Last but certainly not least, make sure you are investing in the right closet tools and storing things appropriately. First up: hangers! Most plastic and wire hangers will stretch out the shoulders of your garments. Velvet, non-slip hangers are my go-to because they take up WAY less space and are better for your clothes. Wood hangers are also a good option. Second, some items really should not be hung up. You know when you hang some shirts and the shoulder get those annoying lumps/bumps and they are in possible to fix? Or how some bulky sweaters get kinda droopy when you hang them? Yeah, those things should be folded. Other storing tips… keep purses in dust bags, keep dresses/suits/jackets in plastic garment bags and store hats and shoes in boxes.
Have any other closet hacks? Please share in the comments below!!