I love to shop and buy new items, but I don’t have a magic tree that grows money. So, have learned a few tricks of the trade to make pieces, inexpensive or not, last a whole lot longer.
1. Denim: I had a friend in college who had this really, really special pair of pants that he only washed…well…I’m not sure if he has washed them ever and when we talked about it they had never been washed but worn almost every day for at least a year. In my opinion, that is a little overkill. He had some, “logical” reason why in his mind but the ick factor was too high in my books. Some denim experts do say to wait 6 months, as long as the piece doesn’t smell horrible or get stained, so that the fibers in the material don’t breakdown too quickly. I prefer to go on the rule that if they are stretched out, I will wash them, this process means that I wash my denim probably every 2 to 3 weeks. When I am not willing to wash them I…
2. Treat spots rather than wash the whole piece of clothing. The new stain-remover pens work very well, as does a warm washcloth with a bit of soap on it. Careful not to bleach out a spot on your clothes with a harsh soap! But if you can save a washing or two on any piece, it will last longer.
3. For my less expensive pieces from places like H&M and Forever21 I have learned to line dry rather than tumble dry. Line drying eliminates the extra friction that a tumble dry adds, stretching out the life of an item and helping maintain its shape. For my cheap pieces and my expensive ones: it’s not only ecological, it’s just smart!
4. Hang and/or fold your clothes. I am a lot better at hanging things up now that I have the space in my house, but before living the cramped college life, pulling stuff out of overstuffed drawers was just a way of life. Now, it’s all too easy to toss wrinkled clothes in the wash basket before they’ve actually been worn enough to warrant washing, so if I take them off then hang them up, I honestly will wash them less. Try it!
5. Use the sniff test. No I am not joking here at all! You all know you do it, you don’t have to admit it in public but you should use it more. Smell it out to determine if a shirt or blouse is ready for the laundry, rather than automatically toss it in after a single wearing. Ask a loved one’s help; your nose is used to your own body odor.