32 Tips to Make Your Clothes Last Longer

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Written By Lucy Spencer

Leading by example, Lucy fuses eco-conscious fashion and decor to encourage a sustainable lifestyle.

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In an era of fast fashion, making our clothes last longer is an elegant rebellion!

Treating your clothes with a little extra TLC is not only a testament to personal style but a commitment to sustainability.

This guide offers a practical path to preserving your garments, advocating for quality over quantity and care over convenience.

From washing to storing, and folding to moth-proofing, we’ll share essential tips that help you extend the life of your clothes, reduce waste, and uphold the principles of slow fashion.

How to Make Your Clothes Last Longer

Get the Fundamentals Right

Learn to read the fabric care labels
Fabric care labels are not just for show people!

Getting savvy with how to keep your clothes looking great for years is all about nailing the basics.

Here’s your rundown on making smart choices that’ll help your threads go the distance.

1. Buy Quality Clothes

Think of a solid wardrobe as a collection of lifelong friends. Go for quality pieces that are made to last — yes, they might be pricier upfront, but they’re an investment. These clothes stick with you, wash after wash, not giving in to the wear-and-tear that fast fashion tends to succumb to.

2. Know Your Fabrics

Like any good relationship, understanding your fabrics means you’ll know just how to handle them. Cozy cottons and wools are all about that extra TLC, while the tough guys of the fabric world, synthetic clothing, are low-maintenance but still need the right kind of attention to avoid pesky problems like pilling. So, dive into what makes each fabric tick — it’ll pay off when your clothes look as good as new, time and time again.

3. Read Fabric Care Labels

Those little tags inside your clothes are basically care manuals tailored to each piece. They’ll tell you everything from the right water temp for washing to whether you can throw them in the dryer. Keeping an eye on these can save you from the heartbreak of a favorite sweater shrinking down to doll-size or your brights bleeding out.

Upgrade Your Laundry Game

Upgrade your laundry game to make your clothes last

Treat your laundry day like a spa day for your garments; it’s all about a gentle touch and not overdoing it.

Here’s a lineup of top-notch techniques to keep your clothes fresh and fab, while still being kind to our planet.

4. Wash Your Clothes Less

Sometimes, less is more. Give your clothes a break and wash them only when necessary. While it makes perfect sense to wash your underwear and t-shirts after every wear, other items such as denim jeans might only need washing ever 3-4 wears. It’s like giving them a little vacation, and it cuts down on water and energy use — good for your wardrobe and the Earth.

5. Always Sort Laundry

Keep those reds away from whites unless you want a pink surprise! Sorting isn’t just about colors; it’s about treating different materials right. It’s the laundry equivalent of not mixing rowdy and mellow guests at a party.

6. Use the Right Amount of Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent

Find that Goldilocks zone of laundry detergent — just right. Too much, and it’s wasteful; too little, and it’s ineffective. And opt for eco-friendly detergents that loves the planet as much as you do, rather than chemicals that will strain both your clothes and the environment.

7. Wash Dark and Bright Colors in Cold Water

Keep your darks dark and brights bright by sticking to cold water. It’s like a cold shower that invigorates your clothes and prevents them from fading away.

8. Treat Stains Promptly

Got a spill? Act fast with a stain remover pen or wipe. It’s your on-the-go defense against life’s little messes.

9. Hand Wash When Possible

Some things are just too precious for the machine. Hand washing is like giving your delicates a personal therapy session, ensuring they stay in top form. Some items you might need to hand-wash include knits, silk and dresses and blouses with delicate detailing.

10. Use a Mesh Bag for Delicates

For those times when hand washing isn’t an option, a mesh bag is a delicates’ knight in shining armor, offering protection in the tumult of the wash cycle.

11. Zip and Button Up

Secure zips and buttons to avoid a battle royale in your washing machine. It prevents snagging and the “I got caught on something” rips.

12. Turn Clothes Inside Out

Washing clothes inside out is the secret handshake of laundry-doing. It reduces fading and protects prints and embellishments from the drama of the spin cycle.

13. Use Gentle Settings and Mild Detergent

When in doubt, go gentle. A soft touch with a mild detergent can extend the durability and life of your clothes, like a soothing lullaby that keeps them looking and feeling good.

Master Fabric Care

Clothes drying on a rack and being ironed

Properly caring for your clothes is a mix of art and science.

Learning the optimal ways to air dry, iron, and handle heavy knits can significantly prolong the life of your garments and reduce your environmental impact.

14. Embrace Air Drying

Letting your clothes air dry is a gentle alternative to using a dryer. It not only preserves the life of your fabrics but is also a nod to energy conservation. Allow your clothing to air-dry naturally when you can, preventing shrinkage and wear from heat.

15. Opt for Clotheslines or Drying Racks

A clothesline or drying rack should be staples in your laundry toolkit. They offer a simple solution for even drying without distorting the shape of your garments. Adaptable to both indoor and outdoor settings, they are practical for any home.

16. Properly Air-Dry Heavy Knits

For heavier items like sweaters, bypass the hangers and spread them on a flat surface to dry. This method ensures that the weight of the water doesn’t stretch the fabric, keeping your sweaters in prime condition.

17. Minimize Heat in the Drying Process

When a dryer is necessary, low heat is key. Excessive heat can prematurely age fabrics, so keep the temperature down and check for doneness early to avoid over-drying. Clothes are best removed while still slightly damp and then air-dried to completion to extend their durability.

18. Get Acquainted with Your Iron

Ironing can renew your clothing if done correctly. Familiarize yourself with the various settings and steam functions of your iron to cater to different fabric types. Always adhere to the recommendations on the care label to maintain the garment’s appearance and longevity.

Store Your Clothes With Finesse

Well organize wardrobe with clothing stored optimally

A well-maintained closet not only showcases your style but also demonstrates your dedication to clothing longevity.

Adopting these storage tips, like embracing cool, dry spaces and utilizing proper hangers, ensures each piece of your collection remains in peak condition, ready to make a statement at a moment’s notice.

19. Prioritize a Cool and Dry Environment

Ensure your clothes last longer by storing them in an area that’s free from humidity and extreme temperatures. A cool, dry closet shields fabrics from mold, mildew, and fading, safeguarding your wardrobe investments.

20. Folding is a Must

Knitwear deserves special attention. Store your cherished knits folded flat to avoid stretching or distorting their shape. This practice helps maintain the integrity of the weave, ensuring your cozy items remain snug and well-fitted.

21. Select Quality Hangers

Upgrade to high-quality hangers that support and maintain the shape of your clothes. Proper hangers can make a substantial difference in preserving the life of your garments, preventing puckering and misshaping.

22. Protect Special Garments

Occasionwear and structured pieces require extra care. Store these items in breathable canvas garment bags to support their form and shield them from dust. This extra layer of protection keeps your special garments pristine and ready for their next outing.

23. Don’t Forget Moth-Proofing

Moths can wreak havoc on a well-curated wardrobe. Protect your clothes by keeping your storage space clean and using natural deterrents like cedar blocks or lavender sachets, which offer a dual function of repelling pests and imparting a fresh scent. Moth-proofing your wardrobe is one of the most essential steps in extending the lifespan of your clothes.

24. Preserve Shoes and Bags

Don’t overlook the care of your shoes and bags. Store them in dust bags to prevent scuffing and keep them looking their best. This not only keeps dust at bay but also helps maintain their shape and finish, ready for use whenever you need them.

Learn to Repair & Maintain

Repairing clothes on a sewing machine

Perfecting the art of garment care means embracing the craft of maintenance and repair.

From on-the-go stain fixes to refreshing faded fabrics, these simple yet effective techniques can add chapters to the life story of your beloved pieces, ensuring that each garment continues to play a vital role in your sustainable fashion narrative.

25. Keep a Stain Removal Pen Handy

Life’s little spills shouldn’t spell the end for your favorite shirt. A stain removal pen is your first line of defense against unexpected blemishes—keep one in your bag or desk drawer for quick touch-ups.

26. Master the Basics of Mending

A small tear shouldn’t mean a trip to the donation bin. Learning basic mending skills like sewing a button or fixing a seam can breathe new life into your clothes, keeping them functional and fashionable.

27. Enlist the Experts: Tailors and Cobblers

When the going gets tough, the professionals get sewing. For alterations or significant repairs, a skilled tailor or cobbler can work wonders, transforming your worn wears back to their former glory.

28. Say Goodbye to Pills on Knits

Pills on your favorite sweaters can make them look prematurely aged. Gently remove them with a fabric shaver or a pilling comb to restore the smooth texture of your knits.

29. Revitalize Dark Fabrics with a Dye Bath

Faded blacks and dim colors need not doom your garments. Refresh their vibrancy with a dye bath. It’s like a spa treatment for your clothes, bringing back the rich hues and giving your wardrobe a renewed sense of depth.

Craft a Conscious Closet

Embrace odd socks and upcycling

Building a wardrobe that reflects sustainability and personal style isn’t just about shopping; it’s about cultivating an ethical approach to fashion.

By cherishing quality, getting creative with upcycling, and protecting your clothes, you’re not just dressing with intention—you’re also taking a stand for the planet.

30. Embrace Slow Fashion Ethics

Adopt the slow fashion ethos by choosing quality over quantity. This means investing in timeless pieces, supporting ethical brands, and understanding the lifecycle of your garments. It’s fashion that values mindfulness and longevity, and it starts with your choices.

31. Celebrate Unmatched Socks and the Art of Upcycling

Who says socks must always match? Embrace the quirks of unmatched socks and explore the creative potential in upcycling. Transforming the old into new not only gives your wardrobe a unique twist but also reduces waste significantly.

32. Invest in Protective Treatments for Longevity

Guard your clothes and shoes against the elements with eco-friendly protective treatments. These can help extend the life of your pieces by preventing stains and weather damage, keeping your favorites wearable for longer.

Know When to Admit Defeat and When to Repurpose

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, a piece of clothing reaches the end of its wearable life. Recognize when it’s time to let go, but also consider repurposing.

An old t-shirt might make excellent cleaning rags, while a beloved dress could be transformed into cushion covers.

Get creative and give your clothes a second life in a new form!

Longer Lasting Clothes!

In the journey toward sustainable living, every stitch and seam in our wardrobe holds significance.

By caring for our clothes mindfully and helping our clothes last longer, we craft a closet that not only expresses our style but also our dedication to the planet and the people on it.

Embrace these principles, and watch your wardrobe—and your impact—flourish!

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