10 Tips to Make Your Clothes Last Longer
Extend the Life of Your Wardrobe

We’ve spoken previously on the site about budgeting and cutting back on how much you spend on clothes. If you’ve followed that advice, or are at least trying to do so, then this feature is for you. Naturally, you can only reduce your spending on clothes if your old ones hold up well and if you’d prefer that the clothes you do by are ready to wear for a long time to come, the upcoming 10 tips are for you.

1. Keep a Stain Removal Pen on You at All Times

Stains are the bane of keeping clothes in good condition. As anyone that has ever successfully removed a stain from an item of clothing will know, the quicker you address the stain, the more likely you are to succeed. A stain removal pen is designed to be portable – you probably don’t want to keep one in your pocket, but if you often find yourself carrying a bag, briefcase or anything else suitable, you should devote some of the space in there to one of these handy devices. Use it right away when a stain happens, and you can take care of the rest when you get back home.

2. Check for Stains before you Wash

If you’re in charge of the laundry at home, the chances are that it's not just yours that you’re responsible for. If you have family members that are not exactly forthcoming when it comes to reporting stains, make sure you give each item of clothing the once over before you put it in the wash. You won’t have the benefit of immediate remedial action as in the first tip above, but you can apply any additional treatments you might require before you start the wash.

3. Always Read the Label

This phrase is more commonly associated with medicine, but if you want your clothes to last as long as possible, it pays to read the instructions. If you’re a seasoned laundry artist, you’ll have a good idea of how to wash just about any material. If you’re not, then you may go no further than splitting clothes into lights and darks before you wash. Either way, there is no time like the present to get to know the specifics of the garments you clean the most. These instructions are not there for no reason, and you should take on board any advice that they give for the health of your threads.

4. Split Up Different Materials

The washing machine can be a pretty stressful place for your clothes, and you don’t want to exacerbate that by combining light, soft fabrics with thicker, more abrasive ones. Similar materials are better able to withstand bouncing off each other as the washing machine goes around, and you’ll also do yourself a favour if you use a dryer. Similar fabrics retain the same amount of water as each other so you won’t risk under or overdrying as much.

5. Keep Fasteners Closed in the Wash

Buttons and zips are here to stay, but when items that use them go in the wash, you should take the time to ensure that they’re fastened up sufficiently. This doesn’t aid in the washing process itself, but it does ensure that fasteners do not get caught on other clothing items. If they do catch, they can cause enough damage that the item they come into contact with is no longer wearable.

6. Protect the Most Delicate Items in the Washing Machine

No matter which precautions you take, there’s always a chance that the more delicate items in your wardrobe will attract damage. You can overcome this with a small investment in mesh bags, which are also perfect for keeping socks together or for protecting baby clothes. Simply put any item of clothing you feel requires an additional layer of protection in one of these bags before the wash and it will always come out in one piece.

7. Don’t Add Too Much Detergent

Water alone does not get your clothes clean, and we would not suggest skipping out on your favourite fabric softener when you do put your clothes in the wash. However, there’s every chance that you’re currently using too much. Not only is this a waste that you will feel in your wallet, but too much detergent can have a detrimental effect. Your machine only needs so much, and any extra has to go somewhere. That somewhere is usually on the clothes themselves, leaving a residue that effectively makes them just as dirty as when they went into the machine.

8. Stick with Load Guidelines

Every washing machine comes with an instruction manual, and each of them includes information on how much the washing machine can reliably clean. You may be tempted to cram in as much as you can, but you’ll sacrifice on the quality of the clean if you put in more than you should. Not only will the cleaning process not be as effective as it could, but the clothes have less room to move and will spend too long rubbing and potentially damaging each other.

9. Reduce the Temperature

If you’ve considered washing at a lower temperature, it was likely spurred on by environmental concerns. There are benefits to your clothes too. Higher temperatures in both the washer and dryer can make stains impossible to remove and even directly damage the fabric. If you’ve never considered lowering the temperature before, now might be the time to try.

10. Try to Steer Clear of Bleach

Some people immediately think of bleach when they want to remove a stain. It gets the job done, but only because it is so damaging to so many fabrics. A stain cannot stick around if the fabric itself is no longer there, and excessive use will practically make an item of clothing wear away completely. Make bleach a last resort or, if possible, avoid it altogether.