Care & Keeping
Another huge part of #SlowFashionOctober is learning how to take care of your most loved clothes to make sure they last as long as possible. By taking the time to learn to care for your favorite pieces you can ensure that you’ll get the most wear from them and that they’ll always look amazing. Taking great care of your clothes doesn’t have to mean a ton of hassle either, there are tons of simple ways to make sure you’re doing everything you can for your clothes.
We’ve all got laundry - some people hate it, some don’t mind so much. The way you launder your clothes has the most impact on how long they last. To make sure your clothing is going to go the extra mile, always wash in cold and follow the instructions for your particular machine on how to load it to ensure you also get the best clean. My biggest recommendation if you’re going to machine wash your clothes is to avoid heat wherever you can. Heat and friction cause clothing to wear out faster. Wash on cold and don’t use high agitation settings unless you need to remove a lot of dirt. Never use fabric softener (it just builds up in layers on top of your clothes to make them feel soft, but really it just provides a gunky layer for grossness to stick to!), and be sure to only use the smallest amount of detergent needed for the size of the load.
Many items might suggest on their labels that hand washing is best, and I hate to say it, but it really is. Hand washing clothes is more gentle and when combined with line drying, it is the best way to make your clothes last.
Also try to avoid over washing your clothes. Many items can go a few wearings without laundering. Things like denim or anything that is worn in layers and not in direct contact with your skin all day are probably fine to wear two or three times before washing if you’re comfortable with that.
Stains are such a bummer, and are a huge reason that some clothes in our closets don’t get as much wear as they could. The good news is that most stains are conquerable if you know how to treat them. Luckily you don’t need a bunch of harsh chemicals to tackle most of them!
First things first, try to treat any stains as soon as they happen. Sometimes you might not notice a stain right away and that’s ok, we’ll get to that later. But if you happen to notice one right away you’re much more likely to be able to minimize the damage. First things first, blot don’t wipe! Let’s say you’ve dropped some salsa on your shirt, carefully remove any solid food pieces as best you can without spreading them around. Then you’ll want 2 cloths or paper towels. I prefer cloths but use whatever is available. Put a dry cloth under the stain and use a slightly damp cloth on top to gently blot at the stain. What you’re doing here is pushing the stain through the fabric and onto the cloth on the other side, keeping the stain from setting into the fibers of your clothes. As the cloth on the back soaks up the stain, be sure to move it around to a clean, dry spot while you continue to blot until the stain fades. Then you’ll want to use my next tip to keep the stain from sticking around…
I’ll let you in on one of my favorite secrets…I treat most stains with a good grease fighting dish soap. That’s right, you don’t even need a fancy product! Since most clothing stains tend to be grease/oil based (think sweat, food stains, makeup) all you need is a soap that is good at breaking down grease. Isn’t that exactly what dish soap does? So as soon as you notice a stain on your clothes, do your best to remove the stain like we talked about above, then grab a small (really, less is more!) drop of dish soap and apply it to the spot. Do this even if you can’t wash the item right away because it will help guard against the stain setting in. This can also work even if you only notice the stain after it has been through the dryer, all hope is not lost! Just put a dab of dish soap on the area and wash again with your next load of clothing.
Another great way to help your clothes last a long time is to proactively treat clothing that you know is going to get a lot of use. Are you someone who regularly wears cotton dress shirts for work? It might be a good idea to treat the neck and underarms with a solid stain stick every few washes. If you keep your stain stick near wherever you keep your dirty clothes it only takes a minute to rub on the stain stick before throwing that shirt into the hamper.
Tailoring & Repairs
An often overlooked part of caring for your clothing is tailoring & repairs. It can be a hassle to do, but it is SO worth it in the end. When you purchase new clothing, be sure to have it tailored if it needs it. Tailoring doesn’t have to take forever or cost a ton. Hemming pant legs so they don’t drag or get stepped on helps them last longer and look better. Making sure that sleeve cuffs are the right length and fit keeps them from getting in your way and getting stained when you write or eat. Most small tailoring jobs only cost between $10-$30 and can be done in a matter of days.
Repairing clothing is also key to helping it last. Replacing lost buttons, mending holes or even reinforcing seams can make a huge difference in the life of your garments. You can often ask your tailor to do a lot of these things too, but DIY is practical and easy as well. Follow us on Instagram to see some tips on how to DIY things like button replacement, reinforce a seam, or mend your denim in the coming weeks!
Folding and Storing
Last but not least, how and where you keep your clothes can be a factor in their longevity. After you’ve taken such care with tailoring & laundering your clothes, you don’t want to ruin it by improperly storing them! Luckily this part is simple. You’ll want to make sure that your closet has room for your clothes and that you have both hanging space and shelf or drawer space. You want to make sure that your clothes have room to breathe and so that you can actually see what you own. Woven clothing (fabrics that don’t stretch) should be hung up. Knitted things, especially things like sweaters or hand-knit items, should be folded. Hanging knit items can cause them to stretch out and can permanently ruin their shape. If you are a person who stores seasonal clothing, make sure that when you store it you use an appropriate container, not just a cardboard box to keep out any pests like moths that can ruin your clothes.
And that’s it! Those are the basics for making sure you’re taking top notch care of your clothes. Got questions on how to take care of something in your wardrobe or how to factor care into a future purchase? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!