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21 Tips On How To Make Clothes Last Longer

Prolonging the life cycle of your clothes is an efficient way to fight against pollution caused by the fashion industry. It helps us save money as we don't have to buy new clothes. It also reduces the amount of textile waste we send to landfills. We should learn how to make clothes last longer to avoid fast fashion.

We can do this by keeping clothes we don't often wear in a dust bag, handwashing delicate clothes, and storing them properly. This article explores the problems of fast fashion and offers 21 tips on how to make your clothes last longer.

Related Read: Circular Fashion, Innovations in Sustainable Fashion Materials.

Why should you make your favorite clothes last longer?  

Fast fashion is a fast-growing aspect of the fashion industry that's only focusing on making clothes cheaply. The industry produces tons of low-quality clothes yearly. It leads to a large production of textile waste. 

The Global Fashion Agenda reported the fashion industry produces 92 million tons of textile waste annually2. An average American throws out 81.5 pounds of clothes yearly. Textile waste contributes to environmental pollution, harming wildlife and their ecosystem because we have no recycling culture.

Also, experts predict the fashion industry's emissions will increase by 50% by 2050. It is terrible news for the environment because of the harmful impacts of climate change1.

We should reduce our contribution to fashion pollution to protect the environment. Fashion trends are not a must. Buy quality clothing that'll endure the test of time and maintain it properly. We should become eco-conscious fashion fans and maintain a sustainable wardrobe. 

How to make clothes last longer?

1. Always read label instructions.

care lebel
Photo by Marco Verch on Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original).

Every piece of clothing comes with a care label- instructions about washing and ironing it correctly. The labels come with symbols that indicate the fabric type, washing temperature, how to dry it, and iron it. 

You must read these labels and follow the instructions to care better for your clothes. Doing this helps prevent mishaps when washing clothes, especially if it’s a delicate fabric. 

These labels indicate if you should dry clean a cloth or hand wash it. They also tell you if you can use bleach on the material. Always pay attention to the clothing label. 

2. Always sort your dirty clothes.

sort dirty clothes
Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels.

Have you noticed the color of your pink shirt leaching onto your other pieces of clothing? Have you noticed the zippers of some clothes are pulling on other fabrics? 

Avoid this by washing your dark clothing separately from the light ones. Sorting every time you do laundry protects delicate fabrics like satin and silk. It gives room for proper stain treatment without any transfer occurrence.  

Sorting your clothes helps them last longer. Separate them by color, fabric type, fabric weight, and the level of dirtiness. It helps prevent dye transfer and helps them look bright. 

3. Pre-treat stains.

Pre-treat stains before washing because it gives you a better chance of getting a clean cloth. There are various stains, so a stain removal solution that works for one might not work for the other. 

You can remove an adhesive stain with ice or soaking it in cold water to harden the surface. Gently scrape the hardened surface with a knife. Then saturate it with prewash stain remover, rinse it off, and wash it normally. 

To remove a barbeque stain, start from the back of the stain. Add cold water to the area and pretreat it with a liquid laundry detergent, using a soft brush to break up the stain. Move the brush up and down to get the stain out before rinsing. 

Then, sponge the area with white vinegar and rinse again. Repeat the liquid detergent and white vinegar step until you remove most of the stain. Get rid of the little stain left by using a stain remover and wash the fabric with bleach. 

Check the clothing label to see if you can wash it with bleach. If not, just treat it with stain remover. You can use a fabric rust remover to remove brown and yellow discoloration. 

4. Understand water temperatures for different fabrics.

Washing clothes with the wrong water temperature can reduce their quality. You should only use hot water on items that are hot water-washable. Check clothing labels to see the washing temperature.  

Clothes that can withstand hot water are the most durable materials, like cotton. You can wash towels and bathing robes with hot water.  Using hot or warm water can shrink silk, polyester, and denim materials. 

However, doing a cool wash on most clothes is more advisable. Wash dark-colored clothing with cold water to prevent color fading. Instead of using hot water, you can use warm water to wash stained clothes. It prevents the chances of color bleeding and shrinkage. 

5. Use mild detergent.

use mild detergent
Photo by RDNE Stock project on Pexels.

You can make your clothes last longer by avoiding harsh chemicals. Most detergents contain chemicals harmful to your clothes, you, and the environment. Use mild detergent or detergent sheets to wash expensive and fragile garments. Add half a cup of baking soda to your washing mixture as a detergent booster. 

Also, don’t use excessive detergent to wash. Too much detergent settles back on your clothes, leaving a dull, finished look. You can wash your clothes properly without excess detergent. Fabric softeners are an excellent way of making clothes last longer. 

6. Wash clothes inside out.

Wash clothing like denim and jackets inside out to reduce the chances of their color fading. Also, wash them separately to prevent abrasion from clothes rubbing together.   

7. Avoid overloading your washing machine.

avoid overloading
Photo by Sarah Chai on Pexels.

To make clothes last longer, avoid overfilling the washing machine. It might seem like you will get the laundry done quicker if you stuff the washing machine, but that’s harmful to your clothes and the machine.

Your clothes don’t get clean because there is detergent residue on them. Also, overloading can spoil your washing machine, leading to more unplanned expenses.  

8. Avoid overwashing.

Your clothes don’t go past their average lifetime because you wash them too often. Wash jumpers less often. Wear clothes two to three times before throwing them into the laundry pile. The only exception is if there are visible stains on the clothing. 

To maintain your clothes while waiting for their next wash, hang them immediately after you take them off. Let air circulate the cloth to keep it fresh for your next outing. Also, steaming will make your clothes last longer in between wears. 

It kills bacteria from your last outing while keeping it fresh and ready. Furthermore, you can get rid of stains without washing the whole garment. Use vinegar or bicarbonate of soda mixture to dab the stain out.    

Don't hand wash your clothes roughly; wash clothes on a gentle cycle when using the washing machine. 

9. Zip up and button up before washing.

Zip up and button all your clothes before you hand wash or throw your clothes in the washer. It helps you prevent snag disasters, especially in the washing machine. Buttons are prone to ripping when left unbuttoned. 

10. Air-dry your clothes.

air dry clothes
Photo by Mecriboom Ph on Pexels.

The best way to dry your clothes is to let them air dry. Avoid drying them close to radiators and heated dryers. Air drying is gentler than using the tumble dryer. Tumbling weakens the fabric, breaking it into tiny bits and creating fuzzy lint in the dryer. 

It also saves your energy bill. However, avoid drying under direct sunlight because it might cause some quality clothes to fade. You should dry under a shade to make your clothes last longer. Also, leave enough breathing space between clothes on the drying rack for proper air circulation.   

11. Iron with care.

iron with care
Photo by Mecriboom Ph on Pexels.

Ironing your clothes helps keep them in shape by removing light creases. Always ensure that your ironing space is clean to prevent the transference of dirt and stains to your favorite clothes. Use an ironing blanket or a thick towel as a surface protector before placing your clothes on the surface. 

Also, check the cloth’s label for its ironing temperature. It helps you prevent burns and shrinkage from excessive heat. High temperatures work best for cotton, linen, and denim. 

Medium temperatures are more suitable for lace, satin, bamboo, rayon, and wool. In contrast, low temperatures work for synthetic fibers like nylon, lycra, and acetate. 

Always iron the wrong side to make your clothes last longer. It prevents the overheating shine that appears on dark colors, silk, linen, and acetate fabric. Follow the grain of the fabric when ironing. Iron pants and skirts from back to front, bottom to top.   

12. Store your clothes in a cool, dry place.

store your clothes
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez 🇨🇦 on Unsplash.

Properly storing your clothes helps them last longer. Hanging your clothes in the wardrobe helps them keep their shape and prevents wrinkles. So, invest in better hangers. Stop using wire hangers and switch to wooden hangers because they are more sturdy. 

Avoid hanging heavy fabrics on hangers because they might stretch out and lose shape. Instead, fold heavy sweaters, jackets, and dresses and store them on a shelf. 

Also, avoid storing damp clothes in your wardrobe. Storing damp clothes will develop a foul smell and possibly grow mold. 

13. Repel clothes moths naturally.

Cloth moths are insects that destroy natural fibers like leather, fur, silk, and felt. They eat these fabrics because they contain a fibrous protein known as keratin. Wash your clothes to remove moth eggs that might be hiding the creases. 

Cedar wood is a natural repellent for cloth moths. You can keep cedar blocks in different spots in your wardrobe as a deterrent. Lavender also works well. Add small bags of dried lavender leaves to your wardrobe. Add little drops of lavender oil on cotton dabs and place them in strategic places. 

However, be careful when using lavender. Lavender can stain your clothes, so don’t let it touch them. You can also use vinegar to sanitize your wardrobe regularly. Get the liquid into the grooves and edges of the wardrobe to drive the moths out.  

14. Keep your wardrobe tidy.

An underrated way to make clothes last longer is by keeping your wardrobe tidy, since it helps you find your clothes faster. Moreover, it prevents different materials from rubbing on each other, causing abrasion. It also gives room for air circulation, preventing molds and bacteria. 

15. Hang clothes you don't wear often in garment bags.

To ensure the clothes you wear on special occasions last longer, hang them in canvas garment bags. It protects them from dust and wrinkles. 

16. Clear out your wardrobe regularly.

clear out wardrobe
Photo by RDNE Stock project on Pexels.

People forget to wear most garments in their wardrobe. It's beneficial to clear out your wardrobe at least every six months. Donate the clothes you don't wear often or wear them more often.

Read how: How to Minimize Your Wardrobe.

17. Learn basic mending skills.

Most people discard good clothes that could last longer because they can’t repair them. You don’t have to discard clothes from your favorite brands because of a small tear and wear. Learn basic sewing skills to help you repair your clothes, especially if you don’t have a local tailor. 

You need to learn the following to practice sustainable mending: 

  • Learn about sewing tools and materials.
  • Learn how to sew a seam and hand sewing stitches. 
  • Learn how to fix zippers and buttons. 

Once you learn how to hand sew, get a sewing kit. It’ll help you repair tears easily and make your clothes last longer. You can also check out online clothing repair services.

18. Give faded clothing a dye bath.

You can also give faded clothes a dye bath to give them a new life. You don’t have to discard your old T-shirts because the colors are dull. Add the required dye color, caustic soda, salt, and hydrosulfite into a big bowl filled with water. 

Deepen the clothes in the dye bath and let them sit for some minutes. Wring them lightly and the clothes air dry. 

19. Repurpose old clothes.

repurpose clothes
Photo by Marília Castelli on Unsplash.

Another way to make your own clothes last is by repurposing them. For instance, you can turn your old jeans pants into shorts. You can turn dresses into tops or old shirts into crop tops. 

Also, you can perform patchwork magic by joining old pieces of clothes to form new clothes. Give your clothes a new life by adding embroidery designs on them. Check out our guide on clothes upcycling for more tips and ideas.

20. Carry a stain removal pen with you.

Carrying a stain removal pen everywhere you go helps you treat stains faster. Stains become more difficult to remove when they stay too long on the fabric. 

Dab a stain removal pen on the affected area to clear it immediately. However, you still need to wash it properly to remove it. 

21. Keep intimate apparel in a mesh bag.

Keep your intimate wear, like lingerie, in a delicates bag when washing because it is an efficient way of protecting them. It also makes it easy for you to find them. 

Conclusion: How to Make Clothes Longer

Everyone should endeavor to make their clothes last as long as possible. It is the best method of reducing textile waste in the environment. Read the clothing label to learn the instructions to care for your clothes. Only dry clean your clothes when necessary because dry cleaning uses lots of harsh chemicals. 

Also, avoid using fabric conditioners because they contain excess chemicals. You can repeat outfits if they are not visibly dirty. We hope you find our tips on making your clothes last longer helpful.

1

Andreadakis, S., & Owusu-Wiredu, P. (2023). Fashion Footprint: How Clothes Are Destroying Our Planet and the Growing Impacts of Fast Fashion. IntechOpen eBooks.

2

The Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2017. (2017). Global Fashion Agenda & The Boston Consulting Group.

By Jennifer Okafor, BSc.

Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.

Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.

Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.

Photo by Ksenia Chernaya on Pexels.
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