You’re someone who cares about your clothing and how you look, so we thought we should share some tips to help better take care of your clothes and make them last longer!
1. Pay Attention to Laundering
That tag found on the neck or down the side seam of your shirt is not for decoration: It gives you a garment’s laundering instructions, which are designed to ensure that it stays in great shape.
These are some general techniques to keep in mind as you hang out in the laundromat or laundry room.
- Wash Dark Clothing Inside-Out. Dark-wash jeans, black blouses, and other darker material can become faded in the wash, particularly as it rubs up against other garments. Always launder your washer-safe dark clothes inside-out to ensure they hold their color.
- Invest in a Clothesline or Drying Rack. If you don’t have a place to line-dry your clothes, they usually end up in the dryer – a death knell for line-dry-only garments. A clothesline only costs a few dollars and it can also help you save on energy costs. If you don’t have the yard or the climate to dry clothes outside, a drying rack for your laundry room is only about $20.
- Wash Metal Separately. Buttons and zippers often find their way into the wash, but can become seriously hot in the dryer, which can lead to scorching and melting on your other clothes. Wash clothing with metal components separately and never with delicate clothes, such as silks or knits.
- Go Color-Safe. Is there anything more frustrating than ruining clothes with bleach? While it helps make your whites whiter, it can also stain colored clothes and damage delicate fibers. Swap your regular bleach for a color-safe alternative, which is also gentler on fabric.
2. Practice Good Storage Habits
Whether you have a walk-in closet or a couple of shelves, the way you store your clothes can make them last for years or, alternatively, leave them looking misshapen and damaged in just a few months. Here’s how to store your clothes to make sure they last as long as possible:
- Fold Heavy Sweaters on a Shelf. While you might think that hanging is best for your expensive sweaters, heavier garments such as wool sweaters can actually stretch out when you hang them in your closet. Your best bet is to stack them folded on a shelf so they keep their shape – and save that precious hanger space.
- Button Buttons and Zip Zippers. I can’t count the number of times a wayward zipper on one garment has snagged or scratched the fabric on another while hanging in my closet. Sharp zipper teeth, studs, and even buttons can catch on clothes and result in damage, so make sure they’re fastened when you hang them in your closet.
- Invest in Better Hangers. Sure, you can score wire hangers from your dry cleaner for free, but they’re not made for long-term storage. Wire and plastic hangers can stretch out the shoulders of your garments, which means they won’t lay nicely on your body. Consider investing in better hangers with wood or plush arms, which help garments keep their shape.
- Give Clothes Some Breathing Room. Even if you’re short on space, resist the urge to pack your closet full of clothes. Squishing a ton of items next to each other can result in wrinkling and fading as the fabrics are constantly mashed together. If you’re having to squish hangers and garments just to squeeze in another shirt, it may be time to look into other storage solutions. For example, a standalone armoire can help reduce some of the pressure on a bulging closet.
- Think Cool and Dry. Excess moisture and heat can encourage mold growth – even on clothes. The mantra for your closet should be “cool and dry.” Never store clothes in a humid bathroom or moist basement closet.
3. Adjust Your Dryer
If you were to name the appliance in your home most damaging to clothes, it would definitely be the dryer. The heat can scorch clothes and cause shrinking, fading, and even pilling. However, it’s hard to argue with the convenience it offers – you use the appliance because it saves you time.
If you want the best of both worlds, check your dryer settings – many allow you to configure temperature, timing, and dryness. You can try lowering the overall temperature and keeping the same dry time, taking clothes out while they’re still damp. Or, if you don’t have temperature settings, you could just set the timer for 15 minutes fewer than normal, then transfer your clothes to dry on a laundry rack. Taking clothes out of the dryer before they’re done also minimizes shrinking in many fabrics such as denim – so your jeans might actually fit better.