By Stephanie Hell
Making your clothes last longer doesn’t have to take a lot of extra time and effort. It’s not easy to reduce how much time laundry takes (although it’s certainly possible) but there are several things we can do to take it easier on our clothes. By taking just a few extra steps, you can spend less time saying goodbye to your favorite shirts, and many more years enjoying them.
Give Your Garments a Rest
One way to make your clothes last longer when doing laundry is rotating what you wear. Give that favorite sweater or pair of jeans a month or so in the drawer without wearing or laundering. Giving them a break from harsh detergents and high heat keeps their fibers from wearing down too soon.
You should also dry your jeans separately from your other clothes. Drying jeans with other garments can cause lighter fabrics to wear down more quickly because rough wet denim is pretty unforgiving. Also, many people don’t realize you can wear jeans about five times before washing them.
Store Clothing Properly
Storing seasonal clothes is a great way to keep them fresh. Fold them away in storage tubs, or if you hang them, don’t use wire or plastic hangers. These can cause distressed fabric and will wear out the shoulders of the garment. Wood hangers are best for hanging up clothing, then cover the garments with a cotton-type breathable fabric for the season. A pillowcase is an easy way to do this.
Knowing how to properly wash your clothes is valuable. Most clothing should be washed in cold water with as little detergent as possible.
Hang up shirts, slacks, jeans and other cotton items rather than using the dryer. An indoor clothesline can be purchased for less than $10. Any items with elastic will quickly break down in the high heat of a dryer, so dry them flat on a towel if possible.
Reset the Dark Colors
One of the best laundry tips is knowing darker colors can fade quickly. The more they’re laundered, the more the original dye washes out.
Dyes can be purchased for pennies at a craft store and can restore those faded blacks and grays quickly. Many easy-to-use dye products are available, and can be an easy fix to keep your wardrobe looking new.
Dry Clean Less
When learning how to wash your clothes for increased longevity, you have to think about dry cleaning too. Men especially tend to dry clean too often.
Dry cleaning chemicals break down clothing over time, so even the finest suits will give out at some point. By investing in a steamer, you can “clean” them at home in between dry cleaner visits. For lighter “dry clean only” fabrics, hanging them in the bathroom while you shower will do just fine for freshening them up.
Hot iron settings can really break down fabrics, even more so than dryer heat. The best way to avoid them is to promptly remove clothes from the dryer when they’re done and hang them up. If you end up with wrinkles anyway, place the garment in the dryer for about 15 minutes with a wet sock or washcloth.
You can also hang the garment and lightly spray with water, then pull gently on the fabric while holding the seams in your hands. For a heavier garment like a sweater, you can lay it flat on the floor or a table, and put a wet towel on top of it. After a few minutes, gently stretch the sweater from the seams to release the wrinkles.
Leave Out the Fabric Softener After Workouts
Workout wear and fast-dry clothing don’t need fabric softener or dryer sheets, and the chemicals they release can wear the fabric out. Workout clothes don’t really need a dryer, either.
By taking good care of our clothes with careful laundering, experts say quality garments are meant to last up to 15 years or more.
You really can keep that favorite shirt looking great for years!
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