Building a well-curated wardrobe full of clothes we love to wear is more a marathon than a sprint. Hence, wardrobe maintenance is a must. Our carefully chosen items should make us feel our best today and for years to come. Fortunately, we can extend the life of our clothes and ensure they remain in tip-top shape by learning how to take care of them properly. Moreover, the following 7 tips will help to stretch the lifespan of our most-loved pieces even more.
7 Tips to Extend the Life of Your Clothes
- Wash your clothes less frequently.
- Spot clean clothes whenever possible.
- Wash and dry at lower temperatures.
- Always check the care label.
- Be careful when ironing or steaming.
- Skip the dryer more often.
- Skip the dry cleaner more often.
No. 1: Wash Your Clothes Less Frequently
When in doubt if a garment needs to be washed, hang it somewhere to get some fresh air, outside or near an open window. Thereby, you can go longer between washes. Another option is to use a refresher spray. You can quickly produce it yourself. Just mix 1 part vodka with 3 parts filtered water and fill it in a spray bottle. Use the spray to instantly freshen up your clothes. Alcohol also works as a germ killer. But be careful with darker colors as they may fade. And never use it on leather.
No. 2: Spot Clean Clothes Whenever Possible
Instead of washing your clothes, which is a rigid process that makes the fibers age faster, try to spot clean them. If there’s a stain or something else that needs your attention, lightly rub in a gentle washing agent to remove it, rinse (this part of the garment) and pat dry with a clean cloth.
No. 3: Wash and Dry at Lower Temperatures
Of course, there are items you want to wash at high temperatures to ensure that they are clean and germ-free. But, whenever possible, opt for lower temperatures as they stress your garments a lot less. Similar applies to the dryer – the lower the heat, the better for your clothes.
No. 4: Always Check the Care Label First
Yes, this one is obvious. Always read the care label attached to the garment. However, you have to interpret it correctly and know what the different laundry symbols mean. If unsure, I’ve created an overview to refer to:
Some of you may disagree, but checking and understanding the care label doesn’t necessarily mean that I stick to these instructions. I often choose to hand wash instead of dry clean (unless it says ‘dry clean only’). I almost always wash at lower temperatures but iron most of my clothes (applying the tips below). Nonetheless, it’s good to make an informed decision on how to treat your clothes.
No. 5: Be Careful When Ironing or Steaming
Wrinkly clothes never look good. Take a few minutes and iron or steam your garments. It’s worth it. But make sure you choose the right temperature and be very careful.
Steaming is a bit more gentle. When ironing, though, you’ll less stress a garment if you use a cloth in between. As a rule, use a damp cloth and medium to high temperatures for garments from natural yarns, and a dry cloth and low temperature for silk or man-made yarns.
No. 6: Skip the Dryer More Often
Personally, I skip drying as often as possible. I only fully tumble dry towels, but I never dry knitwear or delicates. I dry all other garments for a few minutes only and at a low temperature to reduce wrinkling. Then, I put the clothes on hangers to let them completely dry.
No. 7: Skip the Dry Cleaner More Often
I’ve read that an estimated 90% of all ‘dry cleaning’ garments can be laundered at home. This will not only save you money but also extend the life of your clothes. Most clothes that carry a dry cleaning symbol can be washed by hand or even in the washing machine (delicate cycle). Just be very careful and stick to the best practices below. There’s one exception, though, never launder garments that come with a ‘dry clean only’ tag.
General Tips to Extend the Life of Your Clothes
How to Hand Wash
- Always hand wash at low temperatures (30 degrees Celsius or 86 degrees Fahrenheit max.).
- Wash colors separately to avoid bleeding, especially if it’s the first wash.
- Use a washing agent suitable for the garment. Don’t use too much detergent, especially for knitwear.
- Let the garment soak for up to 20 minutes, depending on how much you think it needs to become fresh and clean. But don’t soak knitwear made from natural yarn.
- Rinse thoroughly, with a slightly squeezing motion. Don’t ever wring out delicates or knitwear!
How to Properly Dry Your Clothes
- Squeeze the excess water out gently. For very fine yarns such as angora or cashmere, wrap the garment in a towel to do this. Use the towel-method also if the item got very heavy, as junky knitwear usually does.
- Then pull the garment into shape. Always dry knitwear and silk on a flat surface, best on a drying rack. Put other fabrics on hangers to let them dry.
- Avoid direct sunlight during drying, as this may fade the colors.
Tips for Machine Washing
First, check the care label before machine washing your knitwear or other delicates. To extend the life of your clothes, select the gentle, low-temperature program and the appropriate washing agent.
And there you have it. 7 tips to extend the life of your clothes.
Your clothes deserve to be treated well. Always keep in mind that you not only spent your money on them. A multitude of resources was also needed to produce them. So, choose your clothes well, and take good care of them to make them last. Most certainly, they will reward you with making you look fabulous for years.
More Tips and Inspirations
Have you ever ruined your most-loved piece of clothing simply because you misinterpreted the care label? I did. Thus, I’ve prepared an overview of laundry symbols, just in case:
You love your cashmere jumper or silk blouse and want them to be in your wardrobe for a long time? Here are my best tips on how to take specifically care of luxury fabrics:
Organizing your closet and maintaining your clothes and shoes ensures your most-loved items are available whenever you want to wear them. This is essential, but there are more ways to optimize your wardrobe:
Do you have a good strategy when adding new items to your wardrobe? No? Then my series of wardrobe planning posts may be the right thing for you:
- All about Wardrobe Planning
If you like the ‘less, but luxe’ idea, follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for more tips and inspirations. And don’t forget to join my email list to receive weekly updates plus content that’s exclusively available to my readers.
What are your best tips on how to extend the life of your clothes? Any hacks you’d like to share? Leave a comment below and help other readers make their garments look beautiful for a long time.