Friday, June 22, 2012

Living Well: How to Make Clothing Last

Are you all ready for the weekend? We're in rainy season so I'll be enjoying the great indoors for most of the weekend. Don't feel bad for me though, I get more than my fair share of sunshine here in Florida!

Today I wanted to post about something that we can all benefit from-making our favorite clothes last as long as they possibly can. After all, a classy woman takes pride in how she looks and is a good steward of the resources afforded to her.

A few weeks ago I was wearing a pair of black dress pants that I've received many compliments on over the years because they fit me perfectly. As I got them ready to take in for cleaning, I was thinking about where I was working when I purchased them and realized I bought them ten years ago from Club Monaco while still living in Toronto. They were a bit more than I wanted to spend at the time however I always value an invest in quality key basics. Apparently my investment is paying off. After a whole decade, these lightweight wool pants fit still like a dream and haven't lost their shape thanks to spot treating early and only using dry cleaning to clean them.

I wanted to share some tips with you to make your clothing go the distance. Whether it be an expensive blouse or an inexpensive skirt, these tips will help you get the most mileage from the wardrobe you have.

How to Make Your Clothes Last Longer

1. Keep Darks Their Darkest- One of the biggest problems with black is it can fade, especially if it is cotton. Likewise, dark denim tends to lose its color over time also. The best way to keep dark washable fabrics their darkest is to always wash them in cold water. Washing clothing inside out and if you are washing a black top or dark jeans for the first time, use about 1/4 cup of white vinegar directly in the wash. You can also sprinkle salt in the wash water as well. These both keep the dye from leeching out of your clothing, and especially helps a new item not bleed out to other dark item such as dark pink or red where staining from dye could ruin it. Fabric softeners can leave a residue which is more obvious on dark clothing. Instead use a 1/4 cup of white vinegar in your fabric softener compartment and it will remove all build up of soap and softeners on clothes and leave them smelling fresh and soft. They won't smell like pickles-I promise!

2. Hang Dry- By hanging your best pieces out to dry, you are eliminating the excessive heat and friction they undergo while in the dryer. There are all kinds of dryers on the market now such as steam dryers, but this advice is for all of you like myself who still have a regular style dryer. I try to hang dark items like black clothing inside out to prevent fading if I'm hanging it outdoors. With a gentle breeze, clothing always smells amazing and is usually fairly wrinkle-free. Most times though, I just hang my items on an extended hanger in our laundry room or pull back the shower curtain and let my laundry dry overnight. It works like a charm. This also saves you money too on  your utility bill as dryers use up a lot of energy.

3. Delicate Cycle vs. Regular Wash - While you probably run most of your laundry as a regular type of load, delicates such as lingerie either need to be hand washed or use your delicate cycle which involves less friction. The same holds true for other washables that you want to keep looking their best. Bras should always be washed with all fastening hooks closed in a lingerie bag or if you don't have one, a pillowcase with an elastic tied around it and then let these items air dry. Over time the friction of overloaded machines and vigorous washing cycles can causes holes, snags and pilling.

4. Repair Before You Wash & Wear- If you see a small snag, missing button, hole, etc., in any item of clothing it's always best to repair the item yourself or have it fixed before washing. A very small flaw could turn into a completely ruined article of clothing after even one round in the washer and dryer. Something I like to do is keep a small bin with any clothing that needs to be repaired along with a ziploc bag filled with needles and many shades of thread and mini scissors. This way I can pull out the bin when I'm watching TV. If it's beyond my ability to fix, I take it to someone who can. On all clothing, always close fastening hooks and zippers first before washing as this will keep them from becoming damaged.

5. Whites, Darks & Towels- Never wash towels with any article of clothing. I caught hubby doing it one time (thankfully it was his own clothing) and he wasn't happy with how pilled his shirts looked after. Always wash towels only with towels, sheets and clothing need to be washed separately. Likewise, darks and whites should never party together in the washing machine. This just makes everything look muddy and gray. I remember growing up and some of my class mates would have grayish-looking white shirts and was thankful my mother had taught me well. Many use bleach, we do not in our home for environmental and health reasons, I have however found hydrogen peroxide in the wash to be a good solution for whites. I always wash stains with water and salt if I can immediately which usually takes it all out, if not, I use a little bit of soap or I pre-treat with oxy clean which usually does the job.

We all do laundry regularly and have the basics down, some of these points may not be new to you unless you've just moved out on your own but I hope you learned a new tip or two today. :)

I'd love to hear from you. What other tips do YOU have for making your clothes last as long as they can?

Happy Friday!

P.S. If you haven't entered our Shabby Apple Dress Giveaway yet, you still have time. There is a gorgeous dress up for grabs. Get all the details {here}.

*photo credits: (1) , (2)


  1. Karla, as I returned to simpler life, I found one of my favorite luxuries to be the scent of fresh line dried linen. While some may see a cloudy, windy day, I see the perfect opportunity for a linen change (even if it's not a regularly scheduled linen wash day!) Happy weekend!

  2. Those are all great tips! I would add that most people think that everything has to be washed on a higher speed cycle to get it clean and that just isn't so. Most things can truly be washed on a gentle cycle in cold water with mild detergent.
    Also, those little stain remover pens are great for keeping in your purse and using on your clothes when you can't get them in the wash right away.
    It truly is worth it to spend more money on good quality classic pieces. Not just for the quality, but also because you are more likely to take better care of it...which does save you money in the long run. When you buy the perfect pair of black pants, you aren't going to go look for a new pair every 6 months.

  3. You're welcome, Kate! :)

    @Wendy & Jon- YES! I just love the scent of fresh line dried linens. Without fail, I have the best night's sleep when I'm sleeping on sheets that were washed the very same day. :D

    @Sarah- Thank you so much for taking the time to not only comment but share such wonderful tips. I have a tide-to-go pen that I was introduced to on my wedding day. One of the ladies from my bridal party got lipstick on my dress and my matron of honor got it out with a the tide stick that she packed in an emergency bag. I totally agree about the psychology behind naturally taking better care of items that cost more. The same is definitely true of handbags and shoes also. :)




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