5 Tips For Getting the Most Life Out of Your Clothes

Last year I bought a pack of Calvin Klein plain white undershirts. They were awesome. They fit perfectly, and being 100% cotton they offered unsurpassed comfort. But when it came time to wash these t-shirts I made a grave mistake. I washed them with coloured items, and when I removed them from the wash I noticed yellow stains. These stains never came out.

Had I been a little savvier about clothing care, I could have avoided this situation and my CK tees would still be white, bright, and blemish-free. I’m sure everyone has at some point donned their favorite garment to find, much to their dismay, stains or holes that mysteriously appeared. Well, there are many things we can do to extend the life of our clothing. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your wardrobe.

Pay for quality

I hate to use a cliché, but it’s true that you get what you pay for. In our society we have adopted a throwaway culture filled with things like plastic water bottles and disposable razors. The thinking is that it’s easier to buy cheap and replace it later, rather than buy the expensive brands.

But that’s foolish. If you’re buying shirts at the bargain bin, you likely aren’t getting good quality. You’re getting clothes that are made with cheap materials and shoddy craftsmanship that will fray, wear out, or fade in a year. If you spend a little more on buying quality brand names, you will definitely get more mileage out of your duds. It is worth it to pay for the better materials and workmanship that result in the higher price tag. Not to mention, you’ll look like a slick pimp rocking those high-quality threads.

Don’t leave clothes lying around

After getting home from a long day at the office, or the job site, the first thing you might want to do is strip off your work clothes and slip into something more comfortable. Now your shirt and pants are on the floor in a crumpled heap.

Show your clothes some love and don’t leave them neglected like this. Leaving them in a pile on the floor will create wrinkles and creases, and can warp the garments natural shape. It can also allow dust and mould to settle in if they are there long enough. Do yourself and your wardrobe a favour; when you undress, properly fold or hang your clothing and return it to where it belongs.

Which bring us to our next tip . . .

Learn the right way to hang and fold

If your closet is filled with wire hangers, you’ve a problem. Leaving your shirts, sweaters and jackets on thin wire hangers will stretch out the shoulders and change the form of the garment. Invest in some wooden hangers with broad arms which fill the shape of the garment and won’t stretch it. The hangers should measure about ¼” wide for sweaters and shirts, and up to 1” wide for jackets. These can cost as much as $20 each, but if you’re putting a $500 sport coat on it, it’s well worth the money.

You may also want to store suits in suit bags if you go more than a month without wearing them. This will protect them from dust and mildew settling into the fabrics. You should also make sure that your clothing isn’t all bunched up. Your wardrobe needs space to breathe so they can air out and foul odours won’t pop up when you put them on.

When folding, try to fold along the seams. This may take longer at first, but it will avoid the appearance of unsightly creases that shouldn’t be there.

Don’t use the dryer

It makes drying your clothes easy, but the intense heat and tumbling action of a dryer wreaks havoc on fabrics. You see all that lint that comes out? That’s from the dryer ripping your clothes to shreds. Using the dryer will fade colours faster and produce tears and holes. This problem, however, is easily remedied.

Before the clothes dryer was invented, people would hang their clothes out to dry in the sun. Set up a clothes line in your backyard, or invest in a clothes rack. Not only is this easy on the fabric, but it also uses no energy so you can be confident in knowing that you aren’t contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and you will save money. Dryers use a tremendous amount of energy, after all. 

Brush your suits

Your hair isn’t the only thing that needs brushing. A clean brush with stiff bristles is just the thing the remove dust and food particles from your suit jackets and trousers. Just 30 seconds is all it takes. Doing this before hanging them up in the closet will remove dirt and grime which could attract insects and grow mildew which then creates a nasty smell.

Follow these steps and you will have clothes that last more than just a year, but maybe even decades. When the Duke of Windsor’s wardrobe was auctioned off in 1997, it was still wearable even though many of the pieces in the collection where 70 years old. Now that’s proper garment care!

Chris Riddell  is a freelance journalist and blogger who lives in Montreal. Catch up with him on Twitter @RiddellCreative.


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