1) Buy what you are prepared to care for
Clothes are a commitment. Beautiful clothes are not necessarily difficult to wash, natural fibres such as merino wool can go for weeks without washing. But if you don’t have the patience to take the sequined dress to the dry cleaner, you might want to consider the other dinner dress that is just as beautiful with material easier to care for.
2) Turn your clothes inside out
Those precious decals and delicate embroidery will be much better protected against agitation from the washing machine. They will still be clean, with far fewer pillings. It also makes it easier to sun dry them outdoors as turning them inside out will help prevent the colour from becoming sun-bleached.
3) Tops need more frequent washing
The underarms are a petri dish of deodorant and sweat, which will cause bacteria growth and discolouration to your underarm sleeve. So wash them before they begin to smell to avoid this problem. Same goes with your bras, ladies! With this intimate item closest to our sweat glands, the elastic fibres breaks down easily in close contact to perspiration. So it really should be washed daily. Use a bra washing net on a gentle wash cycle so your favourite piece can retain its shape.
4) Leave your denim another day
Jeans can easily go a few wears without washing, especially in winter. And if they do need freshening, try a sunny clothesline or anywhere they can catch a breeze. If you are feeling particularly generous, try spritzing them with vodka. As the alcohol evaporates, it will lift the odours away. However as a general rule of thumb, if they start to smell, wash them!
5) Do you really need the dryer?
Dryers can be pretty damaging to clothes. They can contribute to shrinkage, warp elastic, not to mention all that heavy tumbling action taking off buttons and melting decals. It also can be resource-intensive, using up to five times more energy than washing. But if you live somewhere rainy, or you really need those clothes dried quickly, consider investing in a dehumidifier. The machine can dry your clothes faster, is less energy-intensive, and significantly reduces wear and tear.
6) No heavy hanging, especially for knitted items.
For knitted sweaters or dresses, store them folded. The items will go out of shape hanging from its own weight, and shoulders will get pointy too from the tips of the hangers.
7) Combatting mustiness
First step to avoid mustiness is to take your clothes out of the washing machine as soon as they are done. This will prevent the residue heat & moisture on your clothes from mingling to form bacteria. If you take your clothes for dry cleaning, don’t leave them stored in the plastic dry cleaning bags, the fabric needs to breathe. Prep your wardrobe too by placing a dehumidifier to keep your clothes fresh and dry. For a more DIY approach, simply open a container of baking soda or coffee grounds in your wardrobe.
8) No more moths
Moths have exquisite palettes for cashmere and wool, and they love the smell of perfume, food and body odour. So make sure you wash all your winter clothes before storing them. Our second tip is cedar, moths hate the scent; plus it leaves your clothes smelling lovely, so it’s a win-win.
9) Repairing goes a long way
Fabric glue or a fusible bonding tape can be lifesaving, especially if you don’t know how to sew. Even the smallest holes on the clothes can get snagged & start to unravel if you don’t fix it quick enough. Although there are plenty of quick DIY fixes, learning basic sewing skills can do wonders. The Internet is a wonderful place, from buttonhole stitching to repairing broken seams, YouTube can lead the way. So the next time you find yourself hesitating to wear that beautiful piece because of a tiny hole? Repair it!
10) Consider a dye job for your clothes
Your favourite clothes can look lackluster after going through many washing cycles and sun drying. But instead of throwing it away, you could actually give it a second life by re-dyeing them in different shades. There are lots of fabric dyes available so have fun and experiment. Just beware, results can be varied, sometimes the stitching won’t take the colour as easily. But if all fails, just bleach it out. Bleach tie-dye is making a comeback after all.
Bonus: Style up your wardrobe by rotating them
Most of us have this scenario of waking up in the morning not knowing what to wear and yet our closets are full of clothes. This mostly comes down to us falling out of love with the clothing we own, resulting in us only wearing our favourite piece over and over. One good tip is to up your styling game. This can be achieved with basic monotone pieces and accessories, and sometimes it can be as simple as tucking a corner of your shirt or rolling up your sleeves. Not will this make your wardrobe feel freshened up again, your favourite piece can last longer too by rotating the older pieces in your routine. Here is our favourite article on styling tips by Cosmopolitan, although written more than half a decade ago, the tips are still very relatable. If you are into something more comprehensive, go through this slideshow from Instyle!
So there you have it, 10 tips to help you prolong the life of your clothes while simultaneously reducing our footprints on the planet. Just by making a few small changes, you can make a big difference. It takes up to 2,700 litres of water just to create the cotton required for a single t-shirt. So every time you help extend the life of a t-shirt, you are indirectly helping to protect the world’s drought-stricken fields from being further overexploited. Remember it’s not just what you buy, but what you do with your purchase after matters too.