Some top tips for keeping your treasured garments looking fabulous for longer.
It's a fact the longer you have an item of clothing, the more you grow to love it. Investing in good quality clothes upfront and then maintaining them is satisfying, saves money, and helps look after the planet. Here are some useful for tips to make your clothes last longer.
Seems so basic we weren't sure whether to include it, but it’s easy to forget when you’re rushing through your washing after a long day. Sometimes the symbols can be a little hard to decipher, but it’s worth the effort in the long run and will save you from the despair of taking a ruined item out the washing machine.
"Basically, in life, rule of thumb: if you don't absolutely have to clean anything, don't clean it." - Stella McCartney
Washing your clothes wears them out. The combination of heat, detergent and being thrown around, or “agitated” to use the industry term, in a washing machine is damaging. Unless you’ve been particularly active, or spoiled them somehow, it’s unlikely you need to change your t-shirt or shirt after a single day’s use. They might even last three or four wears; jumpers and cardigans even more. Sounds a little gross, but the sniff test works well. Another advantage of not washing your clothes as often: less laundry!
Some tips for how to neutralise odours from clothes between washes:
A sure-fire way of preserving your clothes is to wash cold or lukewarm, so 30 or even 20 degrees centigrade. The NHS (UK’s national health service) recommends that towels, bedding and underwear should always be washed at 60. But, unless heavily soiled, everything else can be happily washed in cold or warm water. Doing so will reduce fading and shrinkage, and you will also save on your energy bills.
Any garment with a print or decoration should recommend this on the label, but it’s good practice to wash everything inside out. Washing clothes inside out means colours won’t fade as quickly. This is especially true of dark jeans and tops. It will also help with removing odours, so is perfect for workout gear too.
Such is the range of different fabrics used in clothing now it is probably more important to separate by fabric than it is by colour. This means that you can select a wash setting that is best for that fabric type e.g. “delicate” vs “normal”. Some fabrics don’t wash well together. For example, gym clothes and fleeces shouldn’t be washed together as the latter will cast fibres onto the former. Separating by colour is still advisable too but, as we’re washing at lower temperatures now, not so much of an issue.
Tumble drying your clothes can cause them to shrink (this writer, for one, has had this painful experience). In fact, a study found that the dryer shrinks clothes twice as much as washing. But, further to this, the agitation from the tumble drying process causes microscopic wear to your clothes—check out the dryer’s lint compartment for evidence. Line drying outside is considered to be the best option.
Whoops! You just dropped a spot of something (probably food) on yourself and it’s not a good look. As you’re probably already aware, it’s important to treat the stain quickly, so either carry around a stain removal pen or, if it is food or organic, soap or washing up liquid works well.
How to best take care of jeans is a debated topic. Remember when Levi’s CEO, Chip Bergh, said he went 10 years without washing his jeans? Well, reading a little deeper, hedoes wash them just not in a washing machine. From personal experience, jeans don’t do well in washing machines, particularly black ones. Jeans can be kept looking fresh by wiping clean when needed and regular airing to neutralise odours. When they reach the point where you feel like they need to be washed, then the most gentle method is to soak in a lukewarm bath with some light detergent, rinse well and line dry. They wind up feeling all nice and soft.
Experts recommend using liquid detergent because it works better in colder water (which is what we want to be washing your clothes in). It also causes less agitation, and therefore wear, on clothes whilst they’re being washed.
Mould is catastrophic for clothes. You might have seen it, it’s horrible. To prevent mould growing on clothes, it’s important to store them in a cool, dry place. It’s also important to make sure clothes are completely dry before putting them away. Other top tips are not packing together clothes too tightly and leaving the closet door open when possible so air can circulate. Your nose can help here. If your wardrobe and clothes smell musty then it’s likely you have a moisture problem and this should be dealt with.
Clothes love to be hung properly, it shows them off and will also help them keep their shape over time. This is especially true for jackets when those cheap wire hangersdefinitely won’t cut it. Trust us, you’ll feel the difference when you put them on. Here’s some research into which hangers are best for which clothes.
Your shoes are hard walkers, sorry workers! They put in the hard miles and appreciate regular tender loving care to stay looking, and smelling, fresh. Footwear care is worth a whole article in itself but, in general, make sure to wipe off dirt regularly so it doesn’t set in and then and treat appropriately e.g. with suede/leather/material appropriate protector.
Accidents happen and even the best quality garments will pick up wear and tear over time. If you notice damage simply mend promptly. It’s also worth making the effort once a year to go through clothes that you wear regularly and check for damage. You can then either make small repairs yourself or take to a tailor or cobbler for their expert skills.
Even before you’ve purchased a garment you can set yourself up for a longer partnership. In general, investing a little more into a garment will mean it’s better quality and will last for longer. But that’s not always the case.
Some good indicators of quality clothes:
We added this in because, contrary to what you might think, it's not the end of the world but does require a specific method.
Sweat stains aren’t a good look for garments. They’re not caused by the sweat itself, but by chemicals in your antiperspirant. It’s best to keep on top of them but they’re a pain to get out! Like with any stain, it’s best to pretreat with an OxiClean or a vinegar and baking soda combination. More on that here.
Nothing lasts forever and clothes are meant to be lived in after all. There's no point buying something to have hang folornly in your closet.
Caring for your clothes properly maximises your return on investment and helps protect the planet as well. With the right selection and then proper care, it’s possible to own clothes that last for decades. We're also seeing a move toward circular fashion, where brands will take back clothes and recycle them into new garments.
Remember, the best thing you can wear is a smile!