Most people don’t realise how much they can prolong the life of their clothes. Make your wardrobe last longer with these 15 essential tips.
1. Remove stubborn sweat stains
Got a favourite shirt you can no longer wear due to sweat stains or deodorant marks?
Try pouring vinegar onto the affected area. Then rub coarse sea salt into the stain (table salt can also work if you don’t have coarse salt to hand). Place your garment out into the sun to dry. Then wash as usual.
(Sweat stains are often caused by perspiration reacting with the aluminium that’s used as an ingredient in many deodorants. So if sweat stains are a constant curse, it’s worth trying a deodorant with low or no aluminium content – check the ingredients label).
2. Keep the shine off suits and jackets
Woollen jackets and trousers often develop an unattractive shine (especially on the elbows) after a bit of wear. It’s easy to solve this, though – simply dab on some white vinegar (NOT malt) to make the shine disappear.
3. Lengthen the lifespan of suits
Dry cleaning a suit is one of the worst things you can do to it – it will shorten the suit’s lifespan significantly.
A far better (and cheaper) option is to steam your suits in the shower rather than constantly taking them to be dry cleaned.
4. Stop collars from discolouring and fraying
Shirt collars see a lot of wear and tear. A good tip is to dab a bit of talcum powder on the back of your neck before putting on your shirt.
This soaks up the day’s sweat, which not only helps keep your collars clean but also absorbs the acids from your sweat that can cause collars to fray over time.
5. Get your cashmere and woollens as good as new
When your cashmere or woollen clothes items start to go all bobbly, don’t throw them out. You can remove the bobbles using a sharp pair of nail scissors (or if that’s too fiddly, invest in a bobble buster).
6. Fix stiff zips
If a coat, trouser or dress zip has gone stiff, rub the base of a candle up and down the zip’s teeth. It will often get it running smoothly again.
7. Launder less often
Washing is the main reason your clothes wear down over time. Of course, clothes need to be washed – but washing a garment every time you wear it not only shortens the clothing’s lifespan but is often a waste of money, water and detergent.
Many items often don’t require a full wash (an hour on the washing line and a quick once over with the iron can freshen up garments perfectly well).
8. Use less detergent – and wash in cold water
Detergents weaken fibres over time, especially on knitwear, elastics and nylons. Too much detergent in your wash can also settle back on your clothing, leaving a dull, stiff finish to your clothes.
In fact, most of us use far too much detergent at far too high a temperature. For most regular washes, you should be able to use half the amount of detergent as recommended on the packet.
You can also wash most fabrics perfectly well at 30C. Not only is this temperature far kinder on colours, it saves on your energy bill.
More detergent and higher temperatures are normally only needed for heavily stained white cotton or linen.
A great way to boost the performance of detergent without harming your clothes is to add half a cup of bicarbonate of soda to your normal liquid detergent.
The soda helps give you whiter whites and keeps colours bright. Your laundry should come out just as clean as with a full dose of detergent.
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9. Zip it up
If you’re washing trousers, tops or jackets with zips, zip them up before washing. Zip edges can wreak havoc with delicate clothes and knitwear when rubbing against them in the wash. If you’re washing bras or anything with hooks, the same principle applies.
10. Don’t overload the washing machine
Don’t pack as much as you can into a wash. Your clothes won’t get as clean and will rub together more – shortening their lifespan over the long-term. Make sure your clothes have room to move freely during a wash cycle.
11. Use a better (and cheaper) fabric softener
It sounds bizarre, but you can use distilled white wine vinegar as a fabric softener. Just add a half-cup on the final rinse. (Don’t worry, it won’t make you smell like a chip shop). It’s effective, cheap, and doesn’t leave a residue on clothes like some fabric softeners can.
12. How to care for ‘Dry Clean only’ clothes
Many clothes have ‘dry clean only’ instructions these days – but who can afford to dry clean their clothes every week? Luckily, you can usually wash these items of clothing by hand (clothes makers put ‘dry clean only’ labels in to cover themselves against clothes shrinking in normal washes).
As a rule of thumb:
- Any garment that has a label saying ‘Dry clean only’ can still probably be washed by hand – but be careful. (If the clothing has stains, you should probably get it professionally dry-cleaned).
- Or just buy a Hagerty Dry-Cleaning Kit for under a tenner. This amazing little gadget turns your tumble-dryer into a dry cleaning machine (a dry cleaning machine is basically just a huge dryer with some chemical cleaning agents chucked in). The Hagerty Kit really does work and works out far, far cheaper than paying for a professional dry cleaner.
13. Store clothes correctly
This might seem like common sense, but it’s easy to spoil your clothes through laziness. Make sure you avoid these four cardinal clothes storage sins:
- Don’t hang knitted items and sweaters (they’ll become stretched on hangers). They should be kept rolled or flat.
- Don’t hang delicate items either – they should also be stored flat. (If you have any really delicate items, consider storing them between layers of tissue paper).
- Don’t keep dry-cleaned clothes in their plastic cleaning bags for longer than is necessary – clothes can’t ‘breathe’ within polythene-type bags, which can lead to premature fading and/or condensation forming. Breathable canvas bags (such as suit bags) are fine, however.
- Don’t store clothes in places where temperature or humidity can fluctuate (such as in basements and attics).
14. Get chewing gum out of clothes
Gum can really get welded onto clothes, and can damage delicate fabrics when scraping it off if you’re not careful. Try putting the garment in the freezer for a few hours – you should find that previously irremovable gum snaps right off.
There are so many things you can freeze that you probably didn’t know about. Discover some of the 8 of the most unusual items you can freeze!
15. Keep your shoes in shape
Whenever drying out leather shoes from the rain, scrunch up some newspaper and place it inside the shoes. This will absorb the moisture and help the shoes keep their shape. Make sure you don’t place shoes near a radiator or use a hairdryer to dry them out, as this will damage the leather.
Hopefully, you’ve found out something new from our 15 tips to make your clothes last longer! There are some really nifty ideas that most people don’t know about, so check them out and see how you could potentially look after your clothes to make them last longer.
Furthermore, if you take good care of your clothes when you want them, if you decide down the line you’d like to to sell the items on eBay or elsewhere they may attract higher bids due to their better-than-expected condition!