We all have those favorite pieces in our wardrobe that we wish would last forever, whether it’s an ultra-comfortable pair of jeans or a figure-flattering shirt. There are also plenty of clothing items that are well-worth investing in, such as a high-quality structured blazer or tailored pants.
Fortunately, you can make your favorite clothes and fashion essentials last longer and look like new through proper care. The following washing and storage tips can also save you a lot of money and contribute positively toward reducing environmental waste.
Choose the Right Washing Method
Decoding the symbols on clothing labels is a crucial skill in keeping your clothes in good shape. These symbols offer key instructions for washing, drying, ironing, and bleaching, so you can care for your garments as recommended by the manufacturers.
Note that choosing between machine washing, hand washing, or dry cleaning largely depends on the type of fabric and its durability. For example, cotton, polyester, and most synthetic fabrics can generally withstand machine washing. On the other hand, delicate fabrics like silk, wool, or garments with embellishments, often demand the gentleness of a hand wash. For those in-between clothes, there are alternatives like a single tub washing machine. These are ideal for smaller wash loads. However, you should still take necessary precautions, such as not overloading the machine and ensuring you use the right detergent.
Learn Your Washing Machine’s Different Modes
Using your washing machine correctly can significantly extend your clothing’s lifespan. For example, washing machines can only handle a certain amount of clothes at a time. Avoid the temptation to cram in just a few more items into the machine just because you want to finish multiple batches of laundry in one go. Overloading your washing machine not only reduces its efficiency, but also increases friction between clothes. For the best results, make sure there is enough space for clothes to move freely in the machine.
Choosing the right washing cycle is also important. The built-in “normal” cycles on most washing machines work well for day-to-day clothes, sturdy fabrics, and heavily soiled items. Meanwhile, delicate cycles are designed for underwear, silks, laces, and other clothes that require extra care. As a final tip, fasten all buttons, hooks, and zippers, and turn garments inside out to protect them from excessive wear and potential damage.
Choose and Use Laundry Products Wisely
The laundry products you use can greatly impact the longevity of your clothes. In general, laundry detergents should be potent so that they can clean your clothes but also gentle enough so as not to ruin the fabrics. Keep in mind as well that using too much detergent can leave residue that attracts dirt and can wear down the fibers over time. A good rule of thumb is to start with less detergent than you think you need, and gradually increase if your clothes aren’t getting clean.
Meanwhile, fabric softeners aren’t always necessary and can sometimes do more harm than good. They make your clothes feel softer and more fragrant, but they can also leave deposits that build up over time. This residue can cause colors to look dull and reduce the fabric’s ability to absorb water. Also, synthetic fibers don’t require fabric softeners because they’re designed to be wrinkle-resistant.
When it comes to dealing with stains, tackle them as soon as possible to increase the chances of complete removal. Use an appropriate stain remover and always follow the product’s instructions to avoid damaging the fabric.
Practice Post-Washing Care
Once your clothes are clean, proper post-washing care is just as important. When it comes to drying, the high heat of tumble dryers and the rapid spinning of spin dryers can strain and shrink some fabrics. Make sure to use these drying methods on suitable items only. Often, line drying or laying clothes flat to dry is a gentler method, even though they might be more time-consuming. These methods can help maintain the shape and color of your clothes and prevent shrinkage. They’re also more environmentally friendly.
Ironing is another aspect of post-washing care that can impact the longevity of your clothes. Ensure you’re familiar with the different settings on your iron and match them to the appropriate fabric types. Overheating can result in shiny marks, scorching, and other kinds of damage to the fabric.
Another often overlooked element of post-washing care is dealing with minor repairs promptly. A loose button, fallen hem, or small hole might seem insignificant, but if left untreated can lead to bigger problems and make your garment unwearable. Learning basic repair skills or finding a reliable tailor can save your clothes from an untimely end.
Store Your Clothes Properly
The way you store your clothes can lengthen or shorten their lifespan. Overstuffing drawers and wardrobes, for example, can cause clothes to become wrinkled and can strain the fibers. These can lead to premature wear. To make your clothes last longer, give them space to breathe in the closet.
How you organize your clothes also matters. For instance, folding is suitable for knitwear and stretchy fabrics that can lose their shape when hung; meanwhile hanging is best for items like dress shirts, trousers, and jackets. Speaking of hanging, using the right hangers can help to maintain the shape of your clothes. Wide and sturdy hangers are best for heavy items like coats, while thin and velvety hangers are ideal for silky items so they don’t slip off.
Seasonal storage is another important consideration. During off-season periods, store your clothes in a clean, dry, and dark place. This protects them from discoloration, dampness, and pests. Vacuum bags can save space and protect garments, but they should not be used for natural fibers like wool and silk that need to breathe. For these items, cotton storage bags are a better choice.
Last but not least, moths can be a real menace to your clothes, particularly those made from natural fibers. Regular cleaning of your cabinets and drawers can help prevent an infestation of these insects. Natural deterrents such as cedar chips or lavender sachets can also keep moths at bay without resorting to harmful chemicals.
Through the right washing methods, careful post-washing care, and proper storage, you can significantly extend the life of your clothes. With these tips, you can keep your favourite garments in great condition, contributing to a more sustainable and economical lifestyle. Not only will your clothes thank you, but so will your wallet and the environment. It’s a win-win all round!