How to Make Your Clothes Last Longer

Fold your sweaters and knits

If you look inside your closet, do you see garments that are in sad shape?  Do you see fading, pilling, holes, stains, scuffs, and other flaws in your clothing and shoes? Of course, some of these items may be old and past their prime, but others are relatively new and should be in much better shape.

Although there will come a time when even our most treasured clothes and shoes will need to be discarded, there are things we can do to extend the lives of our wardrobes.  This post offers a few tips I’ve found beneficial over the years that I hope will be helpful to you as well.

Buy Better Quality

Sometimes people are surprised that the t-shirt they bought at Target for $10 last year has become stretched out, pilling, and ready to be thrown away.  Now I am not one to knock Target or similar discount retailers, but we need to be realistic in terms of what we’re getting when we shop there.  The clothing offered at such stores is cheap for a reason, and the store is still making a profit despite the low prices we’re paying.  They are cutting corners somewhere and often in multiple places, including fabric type and weight, workmanship, and quality control.

It isn’t an iron clad rule, but it is usually true that you get what you pay for.  It’s fine to shop at lower-end stores, but don’t expect the things you buy there to last forever.  What I recommend is that you purchase wardrobe staples and classics at medium to higher-end stores and buy trendy pieces at the discount retailers.   Trendy items have a shorter shelf life anyway, so it usually isn’t a good idea to spend a large portion of your clothing budget for such things.

Store Your Items with Care

Do you hang your shirts and sweaters on the wire hangers you get from the dry cleaners?  Or do you use the plastic tube hangers that are only slightly better?  If so, please stop that!

Our clothes spend more time in our closets than on our bodies, so it’s important to store them properly.  I recommend that you fold sweaters and knits whenever possible, as they have a tendency to become stretched out when hung.  For other garments, I suggest the felt-wrapped hangers that not only protect your clothes; they also take up less space than standard plastic or wooden hangers.  You can buy the original brand name “Huggable Hangers” at either Target or The Container Store, but I’ve found a similar version at Costco (not currently listed on their website) that works just as well.

Laundry Tips

Most people wash their clothes after every time they wear them and this is often not necessary.  If you’ve only worn something for a few hours or if it wasn’t worn directly next to your skin, you might be able to get another wear or two out of it before a wash is really needed.    Sometimes a quick “spot cleaning” is all a garment really needs to be ready for another wearing.

When you do wash your clothes, here are a few other tips to help extend your clothing life span:

  • Use warm or cold water instead of hot.  Hotter water is harsher on clothing fibers.
  • Wash jeans and pants inside out to minimize color fading.
  • Hand wash bras and other delicate items and lay them flat to dry.
  • Use mesh bags and the delicate cycle when machine washing lace or embellished garments.
  • Hang clothing to dry on a clothesline or drying rack instead of using the dryer.

Shoe and Handbag Care Suggestions

The way we store our shoes also impacts how long they will last.  Store shoes in their original boxes (you can snap a photo to attach to the box for easy identification) or in a shoe rack, as opposed to piling them into a box or on your closet floor.   Use boot shapers to retain the shape of your boots in between wears.

To keep your shoes looking fabulous, I recommend using a Quick Shine sponge.  It’s quick and easy, leaves no mess, and is very inexpensive.  You can even keep one of these sponges in your handbag for quick touch-ups as needed.

Speaking of handbags, they retain their shape best when stored right-side up and stuffed with paper or fabric.  Many better purses are sold in cloth bags that can later be used for storage purposes.  The Container Store sells boxes and shelf separators which are useful for storing your handbag collection.

You’ve Read My Tips – I’d Love to Learn about Yours!

The above are just a few of my favorite tips for extending the life span of the pieces in your closet.  I hope you found this post useful and learned a few things to help you get more out of your wardrobe.  If you have other suggestions for caring for clothing, shoes, and accessories, please share your wisdom in the comments section below.

About Debbie Roes

Debbie Roes is a personal development writer, coach, and speaker whose primary topics include addictions/compulsions, personal style and image, self-esteem, time management, stress management, goal setting and achievement, relationships, eating disorders, health, and spirituality. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and is a Certified Life Coach.

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  1. […] care of our favorite clothes – and all of our clothes (I’ll write more on this soon, but check out these tips for now).  But we shouldn’t let our worries about clothes wearing out stop us from wearing […]