34 Tips to Make Your Clothes Last Longer


View as:

Clothes can be expensive, but what would we do without them? The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that annual household spending on apparel and services amounted to $1,786 per person in 2014 -- not a minor investment, especially for a family. But the good news is that with a little attention to detail, and at no extra cost, it's possible to make clothes last years longer. Try these 35 ways to lengthen the lifespan of your clothing.

Turn jeans inside out and wash separately. If the jeans aren't stained, consider taking Levi Strauss CEO Chip Bergh's advice to pop them in the freezer, though scientists don't support the no-washing idea.

Hot water wears down the fibers in clothes faster than cold water. If you must choose a setting other than cold, opt for warm water instead of hot.

A new, high-efficiency washer, especially, needs fewer suds to clean. Regardless of your washer, always use less detergent for delicates. Because the machine spins less, soap can be left behind -- and the result is clothing that feels greasy.

Sort and separate clothes by colors, whites, and reds to avoid color bleeding. Don't be tempted to mix colors and toss in a color-catching sheet. According to Consumer Reports, they don't do the job.

Wash delicates separately from other items. They are called delicates for a reason, and the weight of heavier items, as well as zippers, buttons, and other potential snags, can do irreparable damage.

Treat stains as soon as possible to keep them from setting, and make sure you are treating stains the right way. For example, blue Dawn dish soap (or any other petroleum-based dish soap) works wonders on grease stains but may not help with ink marks.

Do not put stained clothes in the dryer. The heat from the dryer will further set the stain. If a grease stain sneaks past you into the dryer, try treating it with dish soap and rewash.

Avoid armpit stains by using a deodorant without aluminum, and be sure to let the deodorant dry completely before putting on a shirt.

Soak armpit stains in lemon juice for half an hour, then rinse with cold water prior to washing. To clean a white shirt, use a combination of hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, and baking soda.

Don't just drop a bag of clothing with your dry cleaner and hope for the best. Take the time to point out all stains and, to the best of your recollection, explain what caused them.

Use the dryer as little as possible. While line drying may take longer, it's easier on clothes. Also, if a stain makes it through the wash, it won't be as hard to treat as it would be after being exposed to high heat in the dryer.

If you must use the dryer, choose lowest heat setting possible and promptly remove clothes once they are dry. Excessive drying only results in added wear and tear.

This helps prevent fading and saves the fibers from wearing out too soon.

Place several tennis balls (or dryer balls) in the dryer for decreased dry time and less exposure to harmful heat. This is especially effective with puffy items that may take longer to dry.

Don't use wire hangers, especially on shirts. This will cause the clothes to stretch and develop bumps at the shoulders of shirts.

Don't store clothes in the plastic bags that come from the dry cleaner. They can trap humidity or cause clothes to retain a chemical smell. Use cotton sheets or canvas garment bags instead.

Don't hang knits on hangers. Consider folding them and storing in drawers. If you must use a hanger, plastic hangers are the best option.

Store garments away from heat, sunlight, and moisture to prevent premature aging and fading. When you do store clothes, be sure to clean them first – stains can oxidize and yellow the fabric.

Avoid overstuffing the closet. A closet that is too full will cause clothes to become wrinkled. Removing the wrinkles will require an iron or another run through the washer and dryer, causing more wear and tear.

Not only will this make it possible to quickly see what's available in your closet, it makes it easier to inspect for stains and wear. Store clean and dry off-season clothing folded in canvas totes.

Avoid dry cleaning unless absolutely necessary. It's expensive, and the chemicals damage clothing when used too often.

Hand wash dry-clean-only clothes and lay them flat to dry. This will help cut down on the amount of times an article of clothing needs to be dry cleaned.

Instead of having clothes dry cleaned, consider asking the dry cleaner for laundering and ironing without starch when appropriate for the item.

Learn to sew on a button, and always save the extra buttons that come attached to new garments.

Use colorful, iron-on patches to fix torn knees and other holes in kids' clothes. Patches can be found at any fabric or craft store and quickly affixed with nothing more than an iron.

Turn faded, ripped jeans into cut-off shorts for summer. Slip them on, measure to where you want them to fall on your leg, then take them off and snip away.

Wear faded T-shirts to sleep rather than buying sleepwear. Old T-shirts are comfortable, and using them for nighttime is a great to get some extra mileage out of old shirts.

Keep old, worn-out clothes on hand for messy projects, such as painting or yard work. Use old cotton garments as rags to clean the car, dust furniture, and mop floors.

Let kids wear adult-size, old cotton shirts as smocks for messy art projects. They may need to be tied up for a closer fit but will cover young kids head-to-toe.

When in doubt, read the label. While not all clothes demand the level of care suggested, such as dry cleaning, whatever is recommended is likely to do the trick.

Don't wring or twist silk or other delicate fabrics. Use the delicate washing cycle or hand wash, remove promptly, and lay flat to dry.

Refresh the color on black clothes with a simple dye bath. Inexpensive fabric dye can be found at any craft store. Because the dye in the fabric may bleed when washed, wash the item separately.

Brighten whites by adding half a cup of bleach to the washer, filling it with water, and then adding detergent and clothes. Since bleach can yellow manmade fabrics, choose borax or lemon juice for polyester and rayon blends.

Spray on your favorite fragrance before getting dressed, not after. Perfume can discolor delicate fabrics. If you do notice a stain, treat it with cold water as soon as possible.

Cheapism.com participates in affiliate marketing programs, which means we may earn a commission if you choose to purchase a product through a link on our site. This helps support our work and does not influence editorial content.