I was folding a relatively new t-shirt when I noticed little bitty holes right on the belly. Again. I had seen these little holes before on many shirts and I had been sad to let many shirts go as those holes became noticeable.
Have you ever noticed those little holes and wondered where they came from?
Those little holes made me so frustrated I became determined to learn how to make clothes last longer than this pitiful t-shirt! And I learned some great clothing care tips that really work!
Why Should We Try to Make Our Clothes Last Longer?
For a long time, I didn’t care too much when clothes wore out. That gave me an excuse to buy new clothes and that was just fine with me.
But that’s actually part of the problem. We live in a world consumed with fast fashion where clothing is made and thrown away almost as if it was a paper plate.
As a result, clothing is cheaply made and doesn’t last long.
The people who make our clothes are usually not fairly paid and landfills are filling up with clothing and some of it hasn’t even been worn!
I didn’t truly understand all of this until I watched The True Cost, a documentary on fast fashion that you can watch on YouTube.
Once I did learn about it, I finally understood why ethical and sustainable fashion is important. I also understood why I should try to make clothes last longer.
How Can You Choose More Ethical Sustainable Fashion?
The great news is there are lots of ways to be more responsible about the way we “consume” clothing.
You can find ethical and sustainable fashion brands and buy from them to support the fashion that supports people and the earth.
Another great way to get away from fast fashion is to go shopping in thrift stores and thus recycle perfectly good clothing. You are making clothes last longer when you give them a new life!
You could also try consignment stores, Poshmark, and you can even buy nice clothes on Instagram! If you are handy with a sewing machine you can even “upcycle” some of your thrift-store finds! I love to sew and I will definitely be doing that!
The best way and cheapest way to be more ethical and sustainable with your clothing is simply to buy less of it. That is a big part of the minimalist lifestyle.
Did you know that the average American buys 69 new items of clothing a year! That’s more than one new item each week! If you are like me, it will probably be a while before you ACTUALLY NEED new clothes.
But that takes us back to those pesky little holes in our t-shirts. So how can we take better care of the clothes we already have?
Learn How to Make Clothes Last Longer: Wash Them Less
The easiest way to make clothes last longer is to wash them less. Gross! I know that’s how it sounds but think about it. Some clothes don’t need washed every single time you wear them. Maybe you are just throwing them in the laundry bin because it’s easier than putting them away. I know I’ve done that.
Here are some examples of times you don’t need to wash your clothes yet:
- If you only wore them for a couple of hours.
- When you didn’t do anything active in them and they don’t smell.
- If they are jeans they can easily be worn at least a couple of times unless you are doing dirty work.
- You can probably even wear workout clothes to the gym a few times.
- If they are a top layer like a sweater or cardigan and you are wearing an undershirt or tights.
As you can see there are plenty of reasons you don’t have to wash your clothes every single time you wear them and that helps them last longer. When you get undressed lean towards folding your clothes or hanging them up before putting them in the wash.
Make Clothes Last Longer By Washing With Care
When it is time to wash your clothes there are a few ways to take care of your clothes so they last longer.
You can separate whites, colors, and darks. Everyone has heard of that. Personally, I find it difficult to follow that council because I have hardly any whites and I have lots of dark or bright colors. Instead, I tend to sort my clothes by type. I usually only run two loads of clothing. One is a load of rough fabrics and stuff that isn’t fancy like jeans with workout clothes, pajamas, and undies, and then nicer blouses, shirts, and dress slacks go in the other load.
A few more tips to help you know how to make clothes last longer when you wash them are below:
- Use cold water to project synthetic fabrics and make colors last longer. This can also help you keep clothes from shrinking and keep synthetic fibers in your clothes from melting.
- Zip and button everything up so things don’t get pulled at and misshapen.
- Turn dark colors and anything with embroidery, graphic printing, or other embellishments inside out.
- Spot treat stains and never ever put something in the dryer till you know the stain is gone or it will set and be next to impossible to remove.
Air Dry Some Items to Make Your Clothes Last Longer
We love our washers and dryers and I am not going to lie to you. I am a wash and go type of girl but recently I have started air-drying a few things to help them last longer and keep their shape.
The dryer can be really hard on your clothes, especially those with synthetic fibers that the dryer breaks down with its heat. What types of clothing could you consider air drying?
I actually really like air drying my jeans because I can stretch them a little as they do and they fit better. Air drying my sweaters keeps them from shrinking up weirdly.
It doesn’t have to be hard. Just lay them over a chair if you can’t put them outside. And don’t worry about your undies and super casual stuff. Throw them in the dryer and keep life simple!
Make Clothes Last Longer By Wearing Undergarments
One simple way to do laundry less often and thus make clothes last longer is to wear undergarments that protect your clothing from your sweat.
If you wear an undershirt under your blouses or sweaters they won’t get dirty as fast. You can wear a slip under a skirt to prevent having to wash it every time and in the winter you can even wear leggings under your pants if you are in a cold climate.
I am not saying this is always applicable. In the summertime, I don’t want to add an extra layer and I have to wash my clothes more. But when it’s easy to layer up it’s a good idea because it will keep your clothes looking new!
Fold Your Clothes Nicely
A lot of people like to hang everything but hanging sweaters and knit clothing like t-shirts will actually mess up their shape. If you want to make clothes last longer you should fold them nicely and put them away.
I know a lot of people hate folding clothes but it doesn’t have to be that bad. I try to wash all my clothes in one day and when it comes time to fold I listen to a book or some music and sit down while I fold my clothes and listen. In this way, folding clothes has actually become a relaxing routine I look forward to instead of something I dread.
Simple Clothing Care Tips
There are lots of random little ways to take care of our clothes. Some of the most annoying problems have very simple solutions. You just have to know how to make clothes last longer with these secret hacks!
For example, if your sweaters have weird bumps in the shoulders it’s probably because you are hanging them. Fold them instead. If your shoes smell you can put baby powder in them for a while and then vacuum them out. To prevent bugs like moths from snacking on your clothes you can put cedar disks on your hangers and in your drawers.
When your sweaters and shirts get lots of pills and look ratty get a clothing shaver to freshen them up! I got this Gleener and it’s amazing because it has different attachments for t-shirts, sweaters, and coats! I really does the job!
Remember the little holes on the belly of my shirts? Do you have those? I’ve asked a lot of my girlfriends and seems like a universal problem. In the end, I found a solution that worked so well it actually a big part of why I wanted to write this post in the first place!
You simply buy these nifty button covers and put them on the buttons of your pants! Yes! That’s where the holes are coming from, from your shirt rubbing against the button of your pants. And the best part is you can put these covers on your buttons and you don’t have to take them off when you wash your pants. These button covers really work so they are definitely worth getting!
You Can Still Let Go of Clothes
I’ve talked a lot about why we should learn how to make clothes last longer so that we can keep using them instead of buying new things all the time. It’s becoming and social and ecological imperative that we stop throwing away our clothes too quickly. Fast fashion is taking advantage of people and the earth.
But that doesn’t mean that you can never declutter your closet. What you weat matters and you don’t want to wear things that are tattered or stained. You may need to let go of clothes if they no longer fit you, you never wear them because they are uncomfortable or they just don’t fit your style anymore.
We must go through our wardrobes periodically to simplify them because a crowded closet can cause us stress, guilt, and decision fatigue.
Don’t feel bad when it’s time to get rid of some clothing. Just try to be a more careful consumer from now on.
You Can Still Buy Clothes!
It’s hard to believe right now but the day will come when I actually need new clothes. I am sure that eventually I will need a new t-shirt, a new pair of pants, shoes and so on.
Will I always buy my clothes from ethical and sustainable brands? As a girl on a budget, I can’t promise you that I will always be able to.
But I still feel like I can do better by people and the planet by shopping less and taking care of the clothes I already own that fit me well. I can also take a look at second-hand stores before I buy new and I can sew clothing too which means I can upcycle some things.
My friend Amanda who is very interested in sustainable living bought a wool dress from a sustainable company and wore the same thing for 100 days. You could try that if your are up for a challenge.
All these little changes add up so don’t feel like it’s not worth the effort to take care of your clothes. Now that you know how to make clothes last longer maybe you will be able to enjoy some of your favorite clothes for much longer!
What do you do to make clothes last longer? Are you interested in making fashion more sustainable? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
Do you need help decluttering your closet?
If your closet is a disaster zone Closet Simplicity can help! Hone in on your personal style, learn cheap or free organizational hacks, and stop keeping clothes you don’t wear!