Wouldn’t it be nice if your favourite shirt lasted forever? What would it take to make you feel great in it for more than just the first few wearings?? For most of us, the way to our hearts is ‘new’. We like the feel and look of new garments. They make us feel rich and special and energize us. Remember that new pair of runners when you were a kid? Didn’t they make you feel like you could run faster? Mine did.
New garments make us feel more attractive. There are no flaws yet to detract from how great we look in it. No signs of wear, no fading or pilling, no stretched out necklines. Some of us don’t even notice when our old standbys start to look worn and beat up. Then next season when we get them out of the back of the closet, we wonder what happened. And if it was your favourite shirt or jeans, we might panic and shop just to quickly replace them, which can result in a budget buster.
Basic garments, such as straight leg classic jeans, a hip-length cardigan or a long sleeved black t-shirt, don’t really change fashion quickly. A good garment in a classic style remains in style for years, sometimes even decades. So if yours fits well, looks good and you’d rather save the money to spend on something else, here’s just a few of the ways to keep your garments looking new longer.
There are lots of strategies to help you lengthen the lifespan of garments. Keep an eye out for future posts on this topic. You might want to keep your clothes longer, or you might want to ensure that they are attractive enough to resell in a second hand consignment store. Whatever your reasons for extending the life of your clothes, it all starts here.
Step One: Wear your items twice or even three times before washing. Don’t throw them on the floor when you take them off! Hang them up properly or fold them neatly between wearings. It’s also best if you don’t put them back in the closet before laundering, since the body oils on the worn items attract moths. An over-the-door rack with hooks on it is ideal for hanging clothes that are awaiting their second or third wearing.
Step Two: In the laundry room: A lot of the signs we associate with worn out garments actually occur during the laundering process, rather than being a result of having been on your body. Washing machines produced since 1995 use a more aggressive swishing action and that wears your fabrics out more quickly. (Yes, it’s built-in obsolescence in order to create more purchases…. disguised as ‘more efficient’ washing action….smh)
So turn your garments inside out before you wash them. This avoids fading and pilling on the outside due to friction.
Step Three: Do up all zippers and buttons before washing. Then the rough edge of the zipper teeth can’t scrape other garments. And buttons cannot get twisted off, because they are protected by the layer of fabric containing the button. You can also turn pockets inside out, if possible, so lint does not collect in them.
Step Four: Sort your clothes so you have separate loads according to colours and fabrics. Whites. Darks. Towels. Colours. Jeans & Sweats. These should all be separate wash loads. If you don’t separate them, you will have your whites turning grey-ish or yellowish. Your colours won’t remain bright or true. Your black clothes will fade quickly along the seam lines. Your darks or colours will get little pills on them from being washed with the towels or sweatshirt fleece, and you will likely be sorry!
Step Five: Use cold water when you do laundry. Washing clothes in cool or cold water is safe. It’s also cheaper on your energy bill. Laundry detergent nowadays all works in cold water, so don’t feel obligated to buy soap specially advertised for cold water (it’s just an advertising gimmick), and don’t feel you need to use warm or hot water, unless there are grease stains or your items are very heavily soiled. Use warm water for sheets and towels only, and not always for them. Never hot water for any of your important laundry loads. Hot water shrinks many fibres. It weakens others so they stretch out. It destroys spandex. Hot water locks in some stains. Hot water makes the dyes in coloured fabrics run. It is not a good idea! Avoid hot water. (Am I overstating my point yet?)
So these are your first five tips for extending the life of great garments. Once you have incorporated these into your habits, you should notice that your clothes are looking better longer. Then it will be time to learn even more ways to be good to your garments. Watch for more tips in future blogs.