This post was inspired by a lady friend who listens to my mom woes, bad jokes, sends me cupcakes when I’m PMSing and cohorts over at A Little Light with me. I had mentioned to her that my college frugal ways led me to learn some practices of making my clothes last longer. She said I should blog it. So I did. Cause this blogger takes requests!
We live in an era where any item of clothing can be bought at almost any price point. Sure, quality items are often worth the investment, but you don’t have to spend lots of money to have clothes that last years and years. I’ve been doing my own laundry since I was 11, I know, I’m like a child prodigy, or whatever. When I realized I could write over 10 tips about laundry and clothing care, I was unreasonably proud. When the list grew to 20+ tips, I was a special blend of creeped out and depressed. Buuuuut this knowledge has helped me to keep my clothes lasting. There are many items in my closet I have had for a decade, (this is worthy of note considering my shopping history), and they were items I didn’t spend a ton of money on. I just tried to care for
them as best I could.
On to the tips to care for your clothes and make them last longer. . . . . .
- Buy what you can care for. If you aren’t going to care for your delicate or special fabrics, don’t spend the money on them. Know your limits, play within it.
- Wash like with like. If you want your whites to stay white and your corals to stay Hawaiian-print worthy, then separate your laundry. A simple way to do this is to keep three laundry baskets out and sort your dirty laundry as you throw them in the hamper – dark, colours and lights.
- Wash inside out. Any clothes with decals, embroidering, special stitching, and so on will be better protected in the wash if you put the garment inside out.
- Use these hand wash hacks. If you aren’t up for the hand washing requirements try these tricks:
- Wash the item by hand in the washer water as you are filling it up for a load of laundry – skip putting it through the washer cycle and put it in the dryer or air dry
- Wash on delicate with a fluffy towel
- Wash in a mesh laundry bag or in a pillow case
- Water, detergent, then clothes. Let the detergent dissolve before adding clothes. This helps the facilitate cleaning process and prevents the breakdown of fibres from having straight detergent dumped onto the clothing.
- Tuck everything in. Have you ever pulled clothes out of the wash and it has clumped together in a super megawad of mangled laundry. This wears down your clothes, especially shirts with thin straps. Zip up, button up, do up straps, tuck in straps and strings before you put it in the wash. This protects the clothes from snagging each other.
- Remove stains. I mean who doesn’t have at least one t-shirt with an ill-placed stain down the front of it. Simple household ingredients can help you remove those stains that keep you from wearing your favourite v-neck without looking like you forgot your nursing pads.
- Wash tops more often. It is a depressing day when you lift your arms and see that dreaded half moon of blech under your armpits. Your deodorant and sweat become a sponge for bacteria growth and discolouration, then your shirt gets permanent designation as an ‘under’ layer. To help prevent this, wash your shirts after every wash to prevent this build up.
- Wash your pants less. You don’t have to wash your pants after each wear. Unless you’re going commando (but most of us are moms, underwear isn’t optional – I know, TMI). Spot wash any oatmeal fingerprints and let your clothes aerate between wears. To freshen them up you can hang them up in a clear spot where they can get some air, out on the line in the sun, over the deck in the breeze, in the freezer or spray with vodka? (one for you, one for me . . . )
- Wash your washer. As with all appliances, they get a build up of residue. A washer with a build up of soap scum is more likely to deposit residue onto your clothes than clean them of the residue. Believe me, nobody has eye rolled harder than I at the thought of cleaning a washing machine. But I have done it and it works!
- Don’t dry stains. This tip comes from Aunty Linda, if you didn’t get the stain out in the wash then don’t put it in the dryer, this will set the stain. Set it aside to do some more deep treatment on the stain.
- Air dry. When I was saving my quarters in college I would do two loads of wash and one of the dryer. I would hang at least half my laundry to dry. A decade later and I still I have a hanging bar in my laundry room. I hang almost all my clothes and notice that things like cheap shirts, scarves, blouses and jeans last a lot longer.
- Hot dry. Some clothes need a hot dry, the hottest dryer setting can kill spores so your undies should always go through (pro public health inspector tip). It is a good idea to use the dryer for clothes with stretch material in them (not your Lulus though). The fabrics in stretchy clothes that have become loose and saggy are re-shrunk by the heat in the dryer. The clothes I always put in the dryer are PJs, undies, socks and some pants and lounging shirts. The rest I hang right out of the wash.
- Dry halfway to avoid ironing. Of course dryers are a modern invention of convenience, and convenience is a mom’s friend. So when you do use the dryer, you can pull your clothes out halfway through. My grandma taught me this trick, and she is right about almost everything. Doing this will help speed the air drying process, saves money on running the dryer (which is a power suck), preserves the clothes and prevents wrinkles. Grandma also taught me to keep a suitcase by the door so if unexpected company pops in I can exclaim that I was just on my out for a trip (pro grandma tip)
- Lay items flat. To dry big bulkier things, lay them flat so they don’t stretch out and get wonky as they dry. To help them dry you can lay them on top of cooling racks, or get some mesh dryer racks.
- Store clothes right. Cramming your clothes in tight, airless spaces will make them musty, and sad. We don’t want sad blouses. Give your clothes room to breathe, even clothes piling up in the dirty hamper need to breathe. Another great reason to purge your closet and have less.
- Hang nice things. Hang up your nice shirts, dresses, skirts, scarves so they don’t wrinkle and crinkle (and more sad clothes). Felt, wood, or DIY hangers are best to help keep the clothes from slipping of the hanger and causing them to sag and misshape. (Some things are just folders though, all the shirts I don’t hang I make sure to file rather than pile).
- Zip and button. When you are hanging clothes make sure to zip zippers and do-up buttons. It helps to prevent them from unfurling and misshaping in weird hangy ways.
- Fold bulky things. Big chunky sweaters are best folded and stored flat. This keeps them from stretching and sagging on hangers.
- Defuzz and depill. Pilled and linty clothes instantly look dated. If you are a grown ass woman, you need to own some lint brushes and a fabric shaver (or use an old razor in a pinch).
- Mend up rips. A little hole can slowly tug, stretch and get snagged. Mend up rips with a simple stitch or fabric glue (full disclosure, I even duct taped my ripped jeans in college). Now I might be more likely to upgrade to a cute lace patch underneath (if I ever get my sewing machine threaded).
- Change into play clothes. Many of us grew up coming home and changing into play clothes. As fashion has become cheaper and easier to attain, we’ve taken for granted the value of clothing in the same way our parents did. Have less and take care of it. When you are at home, switch over from your ‘out of the house clothes’ to ‘play clothes’ (or ‘comfort gear’, if you are over 22).
- Revive faded colours. A simple tint can revive faded colours. I’ve had this Smart Set cardigan for nine years. NINE YEARS! I have tinted it with navy a couple of times to keep the colour saturated.
- Protect your clothes. I ruin most my shirts with cooking stains (who else is a hot mess in the kitchen?). I’ve started wearing an apron or ‘house sweater’ around the house. Aprons were invented for a reason, why don’t we use them more often?? It protects from stains but also from that fine mist of cooking oils and grease that can build up on your clothes. Plus there are big pockets to load up with a covert supply of halloween candies and confiscated toys.
- DIY to refresh. If you feel like your clothes are feeling dated, or they are worn, get out your sewing kit and give them a little fashion DIY to refresh them.
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