Around here, I’m constantly talking about buying less clothing and keeping the clothing you own for a long time. Choosing good quality, made-to-last clothes is half the picture. The other half if looking after your clothing.
Back in my fast fashion days, my clothes were not at all valuable to me. They were disposable to me. Partially because they hadn’t cost me much at all. And partially because I made so many poor choices and impulse purchases. Of all the things I owned, I only really loved a handful of pieces, so I never took the time to learn how to look after my clothes. The result? I had a bunch of stupid washing accidents that ended up with clothes being unwearable and going to the bin (including me ruining items I genuinely loved).
I’ve come a long way since that time! I’m working on a more detailed series sharing how to care for specific fabrics (like wool or silk) but in the meantime, I’m sharing my top three tips on how to keep your clothes in excellent condition for years to come. They’re genius because they’re so simple.
1. Read the care tags!
It seems obvious, but I’m willing to bet a lot of you have thrown things into the washing machine without checking (or heeding the tags).
Guilty, right here! Yes, ‘dry clean only’ really does mean dry clean only. I learned that the hard way with a wool suit jacket.
Paying close attention to care instructions helps avoid a whole host of washing accidents, including shrinkage, stretching, colour fading or running, and pulls on delicate items like those made from lace or wool.
If in doubt, wash on ‘delicate’ cycle in a wash bag. I do this routinely for all items that are made from lightweight cotton, silk, or chiffon.
BONUS: While you’re checking the tags, notice where your clothes are made and what material they are made from, to help inform future purchasing decisions. ;)
2. Make friends with spot removal
The fastest way to tire out your clothes is not overwearing them, but overwashing them. Clothing needs washing far less frequently than we think. Obviously you don’t want to wear anything with a stain or odour, but before you mindlessly throw it in the washing machine, ask yourself if it’s something that can be easily remedied with a quick dab of a spot clean with a natural stain remover bar or a spritz of odour remover.
This has been such a game changer for me. Not only does it mean less trips to the drycleaner, it means I can buy and wear fabrics I would never before dream of owning, like cashmere and silk.
3. How you hang your clothes matters!
It’s not much use carefully washing your clothes if you throw them straight in the dryer, or stuff them in a crumbled pile in a drawer. Once your washing cycle has finished, it makes sense to dry and store your clothes in a way that makes them ready to wear, plus helps them live a long life. I lay wool or cashmere items to dry flat, out of the sun, and then gently fold them and place on a shelf. Cotton and linen t-shirts, dresses and pants are hung on wooden hangers so they dry in shape.
Photos by Viktor Hanacek