When I resolved to refrain from buying any clothes for the entire year, I had to make a plan to make sure the clothes I had would last me a while. So I investigated methods on preserving your clothes and realized that others could benefit from those findings as well. And it doesn't cost you extra either:
'no-hanging' rules. But line drying is not only gentle on your clothes, it also uses a free energy source and therefore, minimizes your utility bills. You can even line dry in the winter - just expect it to take longer than usual. If you have no space for a clothes line, a drying rack like the one pictured on the right offers an efficient indoor solution.
2) Prep clothes before washing - Washers and dryers are rough on your clothes. Each wash will cause your colors to fade and increases the chances of snags or pulls from zippers or hooks on other clothes. Minimize the damage by pulling up zippers and fastening hooks and eyelets. Wash anything with fine detailing inside-out. And always air dry sweaters on a flat surface.
3) Read care labels before washing or drying - The colors will run on some items and ruin your lighter colored clothing. Consider washing them separately or by hand. Other items are dry clean only. Personally I try to limit buying stuff labeled 'dryclean only' because while dry cleaning is expensive and a hassle, the chemicals used are also not too good for your health. If you end up dry cleaning, make sure you don't store your clothes in the generic plastic bags from the drycleaner's as they tend to trap in moisture.
4) Wear protective covers where appropriate - Aprons and bibs (for your infants) were invented for a reason. Use them for their intended tasks and you'll have less work later when you don't have to remove that oil splash or marinara stain.
5) Learn to mend pulls and pills - Too much drying can shrink your pants or cause hems to come undone. You could have a tailor re-hem them or you can save the $15-$20 if you can do it yourself - you don't need a sewing machine to do a simple hem. Also, invest in an inexpensive tool like a knit picker or snag-repair needle to fix pulled threads or snags on clothes. Make your sweaters look like new again by removing fabric pills (the fuzzy balls that appear where fabric can rub together) on sweaters, using a gadget called a pill-shaver or a fine toothed comb. Be very gentle if you use the latter. My baby's infant comb multipurposes as a pill-shaver for me.
6) Be gentle on your delicates - Secure hooks and wash underthings in a mesh fabric bag on the gentle cycle. Always air dry even if the label says that it can go in the dryer as the dryer heat can deform the foam on bra cups or cause damage to the elasticity.
Got any other tips on making your clothes last longer? Help me out by sharing them here.
Clothespegs image by tuareg