How to make your clothes last longer

We all want our clothes to last as long as possible: here are some laundry tips to make your clothes last longer – the ‘laundry 101’ if you will…

how to make your clothes last longer

Don’t buy dry clean only if you’re not prepared to pay for cleaning

We’ve all been there – you find something you love… but it’s dry clean only, and you know you’re not going to be willing to haul ass to the cleaners every couple of weeks, or cough up the cash for constant dry cleaning. It’ll be OK if you hand wash it, right? Or even machine wash on a low temperature? WRONG. While it’s definitely true that some clothing with “dry clean only” on the label can be carefully cleaned at home, if the item is expensive, it’s best not to risk it. Instead, find machine or hand-washable alternatives

Always read the label

Yeah, yeah, it sounds too obvious to even mention, but you’d be amazed how many people don’t bother to read the care instructions before tossing precious garments in the wash. The instructions are there for a reason, so read ’em and don’t weep.

Don’t over-wash your clothes

While some clothes (underwear, exercise clothes etc) need to be washed after every use, others don’t – especially if you’re not sweating while you wear them. How often you need to wash each item is up to you, but as a general guide, if it’s not in direct contact with your skin, it should only need to be washed when it LOOKS dirty or SMELLS dirty. One of the most effective laundry tips you’ll get is to simply wash your clothes less often: it might sound counter-intuitive, but unless you do hard, manual labour, or work in a sweaty, smelly environment, your clothes probably don’t need as much washing as you think.

Separate colours from whites and easy-care itemsfrom delicates

Also from the “stating the obvious” files, don’t be tempted to cut down on laundry by throwing everything in together: that’s an easy way to end up with dingy grey undies – not a great look.

Buy a laundry bag

Not the most exciting purchase you’ll ever make, granted, but a mesh laundry bag will let you wash delicates like lingerie without worrying about them getting ruined. (Warning: if they’re super-delicate or hand-wash only, DON’T put them in the machine, even in a laundry bag!) If you don’t have a laundry bag, however, a pillowcase will also work.

Use the coolest temperature possible

It might seem like a good idea to get everything REALLY clean by washing it at heat, but seriously: it’s not. It’s just a good way to ruin things or wear then out faster. Use the coolest temperature you can get away with – better to have to wash it again if that stain doesn’t shift than to ruin it completely.

Wash jeans and other over-dyed items inside-out

Dark wash jeans will fade super-fast if you wash them too often, or on too hot a temperature. If possible, it’s best to try and hand wash those items (it’s not easy to hand wash jeans, but try putting them in the tub if you can be bothered…) in cool water: if that’s not possible, turn them inside out before washing, to help prevent fading. First, though, ask yourself if they really need to be washed at all: jeans don’t need washing nearly as often as you might think, and unless you’re after the “well worn” look, the less frequently you wash, the better they’ll look.

Try not to tumble…

Often it’s not washing clothes that’s the problem – it’s drying them. Tumble drying can be really tough on clothing – particularly on delicate fabrics, so try to let things air dry whenever possible. Delicates should always be laid flat and allowed to dry naturally

… but if you must, add a few tennis balls 

Yes, really. I haven’t tried this one myself (so don’t blame me if it doesn’t work, in other words…) but one of the laundry tips I’ve read is to add some tennis balls to the load: apparently it reduces the drying time and helps prolong the life of your clothes. You’ll want to wrap the tennis balls in a sock first, though, unless you want your laundry covered in yellow fuzz!

Spot clean rather than clean-clean

If stains are the problem, try using a stain removal pen to get rid of them rather than washing the entire item: it probably doesn’t need it.

Don’t over-fill your washing machine

Cramming your washing machine might be a good way to cut down on the number of loads you have to do, but it’s another easy way to ruin your clothes (it’ll also take much longer to iron them): this one should be on every list of laundry tips!

Wear a slip

This isn’t so much a laundry tip as it’s a how-to-avoid-laundry tip, but if you wear a lot of skirts or dresses, not only will a silk slip make them look better on, it’ll also prevent oil from the skin getting onto your clothes. You will need to wash the slip itself frequently, of course, but rather that than ruining your clothes with over-washing.

Iron with care

Lots of people don’t iron their clothes at all, but while that’s definitely the safest way to prevent damage, they still won’t look like new if they’re covered in creases. With that said, if you CAN get away without ironing certain items, go for it (lying items flat to dry, or carefully hanging them will sometimes allow creases to drop out): and if you can’t, use your iron on the lowest heat you can get away with, and try placing a thin pillow case or other piece of fabric on top of particularly delicate fabrics to avoid accidentally scorching them.

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