There are a couple of laundry questions that I am asked repeatedly, and one of those is:
How do I get my clothes to last longer?
There are several reasons you would want your clothes to last awhile: you (like me) have a minimal clothing budget, you have a favorite outfit that you want to keep forever, or you want to be a good steward of the items you own.
Regardless of the reason, making your clothes last a little longer than average doesn’t take much more effort than what you are already putting in your laundry routine. Here are some tips to get your started:
Wash items on delicate
Even if the item is a material (such as a sturdy cotton) that can tolerate the agitation of a ‘regular’ cycle, you can prolong the wear by washing on ‘delicate.’ I wash most of my clothes routinely on ‘delicate’ and every 3rd or 4th wash, I run them through the ‘regular’ cycle. The less agitation clothes receive, the longer they look new.
Don’t wear your nice clothes to do messy, sweaty, dirty jobs
For example, don’t wear a pair of nice shorts to work in the yard or wear your favorite shirt to finger paint with your daughter. You think you won’t get it dirty or sweaty, but chances are you will. Just take the time to go change into older clothes and eliminate the need to deal with the laundry aftermath of a gross job.
Have clothes that are designated for lounging around the house and doing laborious work
When I come home from being out and about, I almost immediately go change into my ‘house clothes.’ These are not sweatpants and comfort clothes – they are clothes that I can work easily in my home, but also not get bent out of shape if I splatter grease on my shirt while washing dishes. Also, my husband has designated clothes to wear when he mows the grass or works outside in the yard. By not wearing our ‘good’ clothes to do messier jobs, we prolong the life of them.
If needed, wash the item in a mesh laundry bag
I’m a fan of mesh laundry bags and I think they prolong the life of clothes in many ways. Definitely use them for lingerie items, any items with strings, or clothing items where pieces may come off, such as sequins or appliques. The mesh bag absorbs a lot of the agitation of the machine and prevents the delicate items from being stripped away from the fabric.
Wash clothes inside out
Some fabrics, such as certain polyesters and cotton/poly blends, pill very easily. And again, it is from the agitation of the machine. The agitation (which is a good thing since it helps get clothes clean) makes the fabric rub against itself and that creates the pilling effect. Turning clothes inside out before they wash will not completely prevent pilling, but it certainly helps.
Buy good quality clothes to start with
Notice that I didn’t say ‘Buy expensiveclothes.’ It may take some time, research and a few good sales with coupons, but good quality clothes can be bought affordably. Clothes that are made well from the start and are constructed with quality fabrics will stand the normal wear and tear much better than cheaper quality clothes.
Hang clothes up to drip dry
The heat from the dryer can be brutal. It can ruin elastic and contributes to the pilling of some fabrics. To lengthen the life of your clothes, hang items until they are mostly dry and then toss them in the dryer for the last 10 minutes or so. The dryer will knock the wrinkles out without the clothes suffering the intense heat. This is a much more high-maintenance way to dry clothes, but the lasting effects on your clothes are worth it!
Wash clothes less frequently
Determine if clothes are really dirty before throwing them in the machine. Did you only wear them for an hour or so? Then chances are they can be re-worn unless they are stained. The less clothes are washed, the longer they’ll look new. I detest dirty clothes, so I am certainly not advocating wearing items that are not clean. Just take the extra 5 seconds to evaluate whether the garment needs to really be washed, and if not go ahead and hang it in the closet for next wear.
What tips do you have to prolong the life of your clothes?
I’m pleased to link this post to Frugal Friday over at Life as MOM.