This post was written by Catherine Claire, who writes for ThredUp.com.
Extending the life of your clothes is important for a wide range of reasons.
Are you a fashionista looking to prolong the life of your most prized possessions? Or have you found yourself on a clothing budget, hoping to make the items you have last as long as possible? Perhaps you’re eco-minded and want to reduce your impact on Mother Earth.
Fortunately, there are a few easy things you can do to preserve the quality of your clothes and keep them out of a landfill for as long as possible. Read further for tips on how you can make your clothing last for years to come.
Pay Attention to the Label
Reading the care label of your clothes may sound obvious, but think of how often those care instructions have been overlooked when you’re rushing to get laundry done. The care label is the first place you should look when shopping so that you can correctly evaluate your potential purchases and determine what kind of work you may be getting yourself into. Most importantly, don’t just read the care instructions, but be prepared to follow through with them! Proper care will keep your clothes looking and feeling like new and help prevent shrinkage.
Wash with Care
Make sure that you sort your laundry into whites, lights, delicates and darks. Don’t just throw a hodge-podge of clothing into the wash. This will preserve the color of your clothing, keeping dyes from spreading and materials from snagging. On top of that, be conscious of the amount of water you use when washing your clothes. Don’t throw in small loads into the wash prematurely. Wait until your load of each type of laundry is a good size to wash, so you’re not wasting excess water.
Wash athletic clothing immediately after your workouts. Letting them sit in the laundry bin breeds bacteria and can even cause the fabric to deteriorate. Stretchy fabrics also do best on a delicate wash cycle, as it helps to keep their elasticity.
On top of sorting your clothing, another laundry trick is to avoid overstuffing the washing machine and to turn your precious pieces inside out. This will minimize the amount of wear that your clothes endure throughout the washing process and will also help prevent pilling. As a general rule, always turn sweaters and denim inside out before throwing them into the laundry machine.
Dry Naturally When You Can
Avoid the dryer whenever possible. The high heat of a dryer is damaging to clothing — not to mention it’s an electricity hog! Hanging your pieces to dry is a natural, cheaper method that doesn’t use any energy. If you like to dry your clothing outside, remember to turn each item inside out before hanging it up, because the sun will quickly fade clothing colors.
You have probably noticed that dry cleaning is recommended for a lot of clothing these days. Before you head to the cleaners, know that there are two main types of products used in dry cleaning: Perchloroethylene and GreenEarth. GreenEarth is not as tough on stains but is gentler on your clothes. Perchloroethylene is tougher on stains but harsher on your clothes. Generally, you should only take heavily stained items to “perc” dry cleaners. “Perc” dry cleaners present a hazard to human and environmental health with the chemicals they use during the process. Anything that needs a light cleaning can go to a GreenEarth dry cleaner.
Another good thing to keep in mind when deciding whether to dry clean your clothes is that some brands advise dry cleaning on the tag of their clothing to avoid backlash from consumers if they are rough on the cleaning process at home. A lot of pieces that suggest dry-clean only can be washed at home if you take care like we have mentioned in this article, especially if you want to practice a sustainable lifestyle. Dry cleaning uses harsh chemicals that can affect our environment in a negative way.
When your clothes have been cleaned to your satisfaction, put each piece back in its home. Storing your clothes in an intentional and organized manner will create a healthy environment for lasting quality. Just like you shouldn’t stuff the washer, don’t overstuff your closet or your drawers. Leave enough room for air to circulate and to let the fabrics breathe. Invest in well-made hangers to give your clothes room to breathe in your closet, and fold your clothing on the seams to preserve the shape of the pieces in your wardrobe. Taking care of your clothing in mindful ways will keep your essentials in good shape for a longer period of time thus reducing waste in the long run!
Keep Quality in Mind
Lastly, shop with the life of your clothes in mind. Invest in high-quality clothing that will stand the test of time. This encourages manufacturers to invest in producing higher-quality clothes to meet demand, and it helps reduce the demand for new clothing, which in turn helps conserve resources. Whether you prefer classic styles or trendier silhouettes, buy the clothes you love, and you will be more motivated to care for them. When you’re ready to part with an item, consider consignment or resale. Clothes that have been cared for and preserved correctly will make you the most money, so you can use the extra cash to find something new to love.