So, you’ve graduated from having an entire closet filled with inexpensive, fast fashion finds. We all know that adding investment pieces to your closet can feel a little scary at first. After all, you don’t want to buy something only for it to be ruined the first time it rains or get misshapen by storing it wrong. Prioritizing tricks for how to make clothes last means that you’ll have those pieces in your closet for as long as you choose—not just until they get ruined.
As you start to invest in higher quality, staple pieces to round out those trendy, less expensive picks, it’s important to remember that proper care can make a big difference in your clothes maintaining their shape, color, and texture for the long haul. We’ve rounded up the best tips and tricks to make sure your clothes and accessories stay in tip-top shape.
1. Be cautious about washing instructions
Certain pieces of clothing should be strictly dry-cleaned only. As easy as it is to just throw it in the wash, trust us, your favorite super-soft sweater will deteriorate faster than you can press “delicates,” on the machine. Not only will following wash instructions allow for your clothing items to last a lot longer, but practicing these instructions creates a good habit in the long run for the well-being of all your beloved fabrics. It’s like self-care, but for your clothes.
Pro tip: Be cautious not to dry clean excessively. A good rule of thumb is to dry clean every 3-4 wears to keep clothes clean and in good shape.
2. Refresh your clothes with laundry stripping
Meant to remove build-up from dirt, laundry detergents, or fabric softeners, laundry stripping is a method of cleaning your clothes and getting rid of harder-to-see dirt. Certain pieces of more delicate fabrics should not be stripped, such as wools or anything that has to be washed in cold water. Ultimately, laundry stripping isn’t necessary if you don’t use fabric softener on your clothes (I know, it smells good, but it’s not necessary for everything!). Research which of your pieces can benefit from it and follow the instructions for the ultimate clean.
3. Invest in good hangers and devices
Soft, thin hangers can make all the difference in how your clothes wear–after all, they probably spend more time in your closet than on your body. Do yourself a favor and toss your wire hangers in exchange for ones that will treat your hung clothes with kindness. Also, opt to fold certain pieces and keep them on a shelf rather than hang them. Pieces like your sweaters will stretch out while hung regardless of what type of hangers you have.
Also make sure that you have a steamer, fabric shaver, and a lint roller on hand to help your clothes look their best. All clothes end up needing a little TLC now and again, so you want to be ready for when they do.
4. Zip clothing zippers before you wash them
Little snags and tiny tears usually start inside the washing machine. The culprit? Unzipped zippers. Zip everything up—think jeans, jackets, dresses—prior to adding them to the wash. This ensures they don’t snag everything else in the load and end up unintentionally ruining pieces while they’re being cleaned.
5. Take the time to waterproof leather and suede
If you have suede or leather in your wardrobe, take the time to waterproof them before you wash them—trust us, it’ll pay off in spades. A coat of a water repellent spray will ensure that if you do get caught in the rain (it happens!), your shoes or jacket won’t be a complete lost cause afterward. Make sure you follow the instructions on the spray you choose in terms of how often you need to touch your item up and make sure to always do a spot test before you spray your entire item down.
6. Stuff your shoes and bags
Maintain the shape of accessories by stuffing them with old newspapers when they’re not in use. Not only will it keep the shape, but it will force you to clean out the purse mess that is left when you switch bags, which means you won’t have ink stains or unwanted items rolling around when they’re in storage.
You don’t realize how important stuffing a bag is until you don’t—trust us, this is a step you want to take with all of your bags when they’re put away.
7. Separate before washing
Although it’s easier, avoid the urge to toss all of your clothes into the wash without separating them. In addition to separating, washing in cold water, separating linens, and turning shirts with graphics and other fabrics (like denim) inside out to avoid fading will pay off.
One piece of clothing that requires a little extra TLC is your jeans. We recommend washing them as infrequently as you can manage (every 4-6 wears should do), and letting them hang dry rather than putting them in the dryer.
8. Freeze tights to keep them from running
Yes, you read that right. Avoid needing to run out and buy a new pair of tights every time you need them by freezing them. Here’s what to do: Run a new pair of tights under water and squeeze out the excess. Then, place them in a plastic bag and let them freeze overnight. Let them come to room temperature naturally before you wear them and voila! They should now be more resistant to snags and tears.