Ten Ways to Ensure Long Life for Your Clothing

Girls going shopping

Whether you prefer dazzling sequence, leather and suede or soft cotton and polyester, how you care for your garments will affect the life length of your clothes tremendously.  You can also save money on future clothing purchases by taking the proper measures to care for your clothes.

Below are ten ways to extend the life of your garments and keep them looking new, longer.

  1. Read Care Labels
    Believe it or not, failure to follow the care instructions on clothing is the number one reason an item gets ruined in the wash.  These instructions are included by the manufacturer for a reason.  Here are some of the most common wash/dry instructions and how to apply them to your garment.
    • Machine wash (cool, warm or hot):  Wash the garment in your washing machine with the temperature of water the label recommends.
    • Machine wash (normal, permanent press or delicate):  Wash in your washing machine with the type of cycle the label recommends.
    • Hand wash:  Soak and scrub only by hand.  Item is probably too delicate for harsh machine cycles.  These items usually have to be laid out flat to dry also.
    • Bleach (any, non-chlorine or no bleach):  Bleach according to the instructions.  Some items might be too delicate for even non-chlorine bleaches.
    • Tumble Dry:  Dry in dryer with the setting on the label.  Temperature and delicacy levels should be considered.
    • Ironing:  Iron according to the instructions.  Steam or dry iron, and temperature setting should be considered.  Many newer models of irons have settings labeled by the material type as well.
    • Dry Clean:  Some materials are suitable for dry clean only, and some should not be dry cleaned.  The label will usually show this.
  2. Jeans drying on a clothesline
  3. Hang Clothes to Dry
    Because dryers can wear out garments in a hurry, it's good to hang your favorite items to dry whenever possible.  In the spring and summer, you can hang them outdoors.  During cold months, hang them by hanger in an area of your home where air is free flowing for quick drying. Hanging clothes to dry also helps prevent shrinking.
  4. Don't Wash Clean Clothes
    If you wear a garment for a few hours only and it still appears clean and smells fresh, there's no need to wash it again.  Wear an item a couple of times before washing to preserve its life.  For example, a dress you only wear to church on Sundays might last longer if you take it off and hang it in your closet when you get home.
  5. Teach Your Kids to Take Care of "Good" Clothes
    Have a set of good clothes for school, church and special occasions, and then have a separate set of play clothes for your kids.  Teach them to change clothes before playing outdoors.  Their good clothes will last much longer!
  6. Take Immediate Action
    When a clothing item gets stained from food or a spill, take immediate action and clean the stain right away.  Waiting allows the stain to settle into the cloth, and you might not be able to clean it later.  This is especially true with greasy foods and colored drinks.
  7. Man wearing apron while cooking and having fun
  8. Wear Aprons
    Ever wondered why your grandmother wore aprons every time she entered the kitchen?  She understood the importance of taking care of clothing.  While cooking, grease and food tend to get splashed on clothes easily.  Wearing an apron might not be fashionable, but it's worth the trouble if you're planning to keep your clothes a while.
  9. Buy Fabrics that are Durable
    If you have a choice, buy fabrics that are naturally durable and require very little care.  Some fabrics are more durable than others.  A cotton/polyester blend is easier to care for and tends to last longer than pure cotton fabrics.  Rayon/polyester is more durable than pure rayon.  Acrylics, silk, acetate and suede require more detailed care or dry cleaning.  Materials that are difficult to care for often get neglected, especially when you're very busy.
  10. Avoid Bleaching when Possible
    If you have no reason to bleach an item, leave out the bleach.  The harsh ingredients in bleach along with your normal detergent can cause clothing to become worn out in a hurry.  Only bleach when you want to brighten whites or remove stains.
  11. Starch as Needed
    Starch only those garments that need stiffening for appearance.  Avoid starch if it's not necessary because the tiny crystals left in the material as a result of starching can wear the garment out quickly.
  12. Sewing Buttons
    Learn a few sewing techniques so you can make small fabric repairs to your clothing as needed.  For instance, learn to sew on buttons or repair small tears in seams.  Many people simply throw away a garment when a button falls off.  What a waste!  A simple five-minutes of sewing could have saved the garment and the money spent to purchase it.

Why spend money on new clothes when you can keep your clothes in great shape and enjoy them for many years?  Use these ten tips to keep your clothes looking great longer, and reduce your clothing budget dramatically.

By Candice Pardue
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(Related Categories: Make Clothing Last)