3 Tips to Make Your Clothes Last Longer
Fashion and us. It’s a complicated love affair.
Forget the eyes, our clothes are the new windows into our souls. An expression of self, a piece of art, a socioeconomic status or even a mood barometer (anyone else wear loungewear on particularly emotionally draining days?!). We can tell so much by how one chooses to dress.
On the flip side, the growth of the fast fashion industry has propelled us into a new dawn of consumption. Where items of clothing were once passed down across generations, we now throw away almost £140 million worth of clothing each year.
The fashion industry goes through more fashion seasons in a year than I’ve had boyfriends in my life. You realise that those slim pants you bought a year ago are so last season as you watch the Zara’s and H&Ms of the world unveil a 70s inspired flared pants collection.
And if the race to keep up doesn’t get to you, then the low-quality synthetic fabrics will. I’ve lost count of the number times I’ve had to sew up tears and cracks in my clothes, while my parents flaunt their pristine wardrobes that date so far back I wasn’t even born. My dad still owns t-shirts he bought some 20 years ago!!
The biggest stand we can take against fast fashion is to simply reduce our consumption of it. Buy less, but buy smart.
But we can also battle the aftermath of fast fashion by extending the lifecycle of our clothes.
Less Frequent Washing
You don’t actually have to put all your clothes to wash after one wear. How often you wash your clothes actually depends on the material and proximity to sweatier areas of the body. Whirlpool sets out the following guidance, but can vary based on your own preferences and body perspiration.
Shirts and blouses: after 1-2 wearings
Dress pants or slacks: after 2-3 wearings
Jeans: after 4-5 wearings
Sweaters: up to 6 wearings (if worn with undershirt). And 1-2 wearings if worn without
Suits/blazers/jackets: after 5-6 wearings
Workout clothes: after 1 wearing
And if you have a dryer with a steam cycle, you can use it to refresh your clothes without having to wash them.
Cooler, shorter washing cycles
Who grew up in a household where the common belief was that warmer cycles were more efficient at neutralising odours?
My mum and I used to regularly lock horns over the appropriate wash cycle parameters. It reached the point where we were at a standstill and had to set boundaries: I don’t touch her clothes, and she doesn’t touch mine.
And yet a 2020 study showed that cooler, shorter cycles preserved clothes better and reduced microfiber release. Opting for cooler temperatures reduces colour transfer by up to 74%, and cut microfibre release by 52%.
Plus, there’s the added benefit of saving energy. Washing clothes at 20C instead of 40C can save up to 66% of energy used per load. It’s a win-win situation.
Keep the Moths Away
If left untreated, moths can wreak havoc in your wardrobe and leave you with clothes full of holes.
That being said, steer clear of mothballs. I know how convenient they are, but no matter how much you love your clothes, your health is way more important. Mothballs are full of chemicals which linger in the air, and can be toxic if ingested - definitely a health hazard you want to avoid if you have babies or pets at home.
Besides, there’s something just as cheap and accessible: lavender.
Lavender has been used for centuries for its natural insect-repellent properties. It contains terpene compounds that keep moths away.
Decorate your wardrobe with a few lavender hanger sachets to repel moths. Otherwise, simply add a few drops of lavender essential oil to a cotton pad to create the same effect. For clothes that are especially vulnerable to moths (cashmere, wool), hand wash them with a few drops of lavender oil so they exude the odour.
On top of this, you want to frequently open your wardrobe to prevent humidity from building up. Move your clothes around, or ensure that you regularly take clothes from each section of your wardrobe - moths thrive on stillness, and moving things around disrupts their tranquillity and ability to settle in to lay their eggs.