You may have already cottoned onto this one, but unfortunately, when I first moved out I had to learn this the hard way. Instead of having your delicate underwear or garments rip in the washing machine, invest in a few delicates bags that will help preserve the lifespan of your intimates.
2. WASH LESS
Now don’t screw up your nose! We’re not talking about walking around in public with a swarm of flies hovering close by! Think about what your garment goes through every time you wash it; tumbling in a washing machine with loads of other pieces. Not only is it likely to be drained of its colour and have elastic stretch, it may end up in a hot dryer only to shrink, fade and sometimes fall apart altogether. Unless something is visibly dirty or on the nose, take the challenge to wear your garments at least three times before they hit the laundry.
3. DON’T DRY CLEAN OFTEN
This tip is particularly relevant for men who may be tempted to dry-clean their suits and personal pieces more than necessary. Other than the huge expense of dry-cleaning, the process involves the use of harsh chemicals that not only harm the fabric but the environment too! This causes expensive pieces, such as suits to wear out and fade a lot faster than they should. Alternatively, hang the item in the bathroom whilst you shower. This allows the steam to refresh your outfit without the help of any chemicals.
4. GET IT RIGHT IN THE WASHING MACHINE
Putting a wash on when you don’t have a full load obviously wastes water, but at the same time, cramming your whole wardrobe in and overfilling the machine isn’t good for your clothes. Not only do the clothes not wash properly, they will also rub against each other and cause damage and fading. Another tip to prevent fading is to wash on cold.
5. REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF DETERGENT
Other than being harmful for the environment, a large amount of detergent can actually make your clothes more dull and stiff. Instead, use ½ the prescribed amount of detergent and ½ cup of baking soda, which acts as a detergent booster. This will make your clothes just as clean as regular detergent and will help you lower your home footprint too!
6. STORE IN A COOL AND DRY ENVIRONMENT
Clothes are just like us – they don’t want to be kept in confined spaces and are often vulnerable to over-exposure of light. This means avoiding storing your clothes in places like a moldy basement or your bathroom, where bacteria can grow and ruin them. By giving them a little breathing space in your wardrobe, you will also avoid wrinkling and colour fading from clothes rubbing against each other. Store suits on a hanger in a breathable canvas bag, to ensure less creasing and avoid mould or other nasty stuff.
7. WASH DARK CLOTHING INSIDE OUT
To avoid all your favourite dark garments from fading, wash them inside out to preserve their colour. The same goes for t-shirts – turning them inside out will prevent the print from cracking and/or fading.
8. FOLD HEAVY SWEATERS ON A SHELF
Now this may seem pretty straightforward, but for those of you don’t already do this (I’m guilty too!), it can make a real difference. If you’re hanging heavy sweaters, the fabric will start to stretch and you’ll be left with a sad, droopy jumper that you won’t want to wear. A little extra tip: store your sweaters with lavender, bay leaves or scraps of cedar wood in Summer to prevent finding a few unwanted moth holes by the time Winter hits!
9. BUY BETTER HANGERS
Most plastic and wire hangers will stretch out the shoulders of your garments and leave you with saggy clothing. Despite being a little more expensive, wooden hangers will last longer and take better care of your garments.
10. KNOW YOUR IRON
For those of you who stay well away from your iron (*cough*), you may be doing your clothes a favour! Many people don’t set their irons at the right temperature for specific garments. This can result in shrinkage and – if you’re like me – burning straight through your favourite lace dress. A good rule of thumb is that you’ll get most light creases out by setting the iron a setting or two below what’s recommended.
And if you think you can ditch the iron completely, try to give your clothes a good shake before you hang them out. If you then give them plenty of space on the line you’ll avoid heavy creasing in the first place.