We all know that clothes aren’t permanent fixtures in our wardrobes. Stains, tears, discoloring, and stretching are common issues that cause us to turn our favorite t-shirts into dust cloths. Here are five surefire ways to prolong the life of your clothes:
1) All of your clothes are delicate: You may think that your pants are more heavy-duty than your underwear or dress clothes, but the extra agitation that a washing machine provides can shorten the life of your clothes. No matter what I’m washing, I always turn my washer on to a low/delicate setting. Your clothes will be just as clean but without the wear and tear. If you do this, however, avoid using powder detergent or pods. These will leave residue on your clothes at the end of the cycle, but liquid detergent won’t do this. As for the dryer, set it to low heat. High heat can damage your clothes over time. Even jeans and sweatshirts will be completely dry at the end of a low heat cycle.
2) Know when enough is enough: A lot of us are lazy, including me. When I get home from work, the last thing I want to do is run three loads of laundry. If you have a lot of dirty clothes, resist the urge to fill the washing machine to the max. Also, don’t push down on your load of clothes to make more room in the machine. When you think about it, this allows no wiggle room for the clothes so the agitator will simply scrape against your clothes during the cycle. Give the clothes room to move by only filling the washer a little below the top of the agitator. Your clothes will thank you.
3) Stop the stain: Stains can be scary. You sometimes only have a short time to get rid of them before they become permanent. When you notice one, I recommend spraying it with a stain fighter (like OxiClean) as quickly as possible and throwing it in to the washing machine. As for sweat stains (around the neck of a shirt, in the armpit, etc.), they tend to become larger and tougher to remove the longer they sit on your clothes. Whenever you notice discoloration, spray it with a stain fighter, wash the garment, and then see what it looks like after.
4) Dirty isn’t dirty: I know I may take some flack for this, but you don’t have to wash your clothes after every time you wear them. Your clothes are damaged every time you wash them. You can see this evidence when you pull lint off your lint trap (a lot of the lint is small cloth fibers off of your clothes). To help preserve your clothes, don’t wash them after every wear (except for underwear and socks). Your pants and shorts definitely can be worn a few times without washing, and wearing undershirts can help keep dress shirts clean.
5) Steam is a dream: Ironing is an effective way to remove wrinkles from your clothes. However, like the high heat setting on your dryer, the intense heat from the metal on your iron can cause burns, discoloration, and extra wear-and-tear to your garments. Using a steamer is an effective, inexpensive way to remove wrinkles from your clothes without damaging the fabric. I purchased a steamer for $25 from Target five years ago and it still purrs like a kitten.
6) Lock it up: There’s nothing worse than pulling your favorite suit out of the closet to find moth holes all over it. When clothes are exposed, a lot of things can damage them including air and dust. If you’re not planning on using a certain garment for a while you should really look into protecting it. Zip suits up in garment bags to keep them safe. For seasonal clothes, such as sweaters, shorts, or bathing suits, buy some large Ziploc bags to place them in when out of season. This will keep them looking good as new for the next year.
Save some money and keep that vintage clothing collection going strong this summer!