HOW TO PROLONG THE LIFE OF YOUR CLOTHES
Because loved clothes last
To help reduce our impact on the planet, we should try to use and keep our belongings for as long as possible, rather than buying more and more items.
With all our clothing, me-mades and shop bought, there are some very simple ways we can all act upon to help prolong the life of our clothes. Check your laundry habits!
Wash less often
Washing less frequently means there will be less wear and tear on the fabric and the garment. There will be less chance of colour fading, and not to mention saving money on your energy bills!
Clothes don't always need washing after one wear. Be sensible! - If you find you tend to sweat a lot, or drop food down your shirts often, then of course, these garments will need washing. However, most shirts may just need airing out for a little while. One tip from my wardrobe days is to use an alcohol solution of 50/50 alcohol/water (I just use cheap vodka) to spray onto garments then leave to air out. The alcohol eliminates bacteria preventing any nasties or smells on the garment. Always test on a conspicuous area of the garment first!
Choose appropriate detergents
Harsh chemicals within detergents can be harmful to fibres, breaking them down more quickly. Harsh chemicals may also harm the environment as they enter the wastewater systems. As well as many natural laundry product brands out there, there are many natural washing aids such as soda crystals and sodium percarbonate which also work as stain removers, water softeners and more!
Ditch the fabric conditioner
I have seen many people use excess amounts of fabric conditioners in hope of softening clothing. However, in some cases, conditioners can make clothes worse. For example, fast-drying/moisture wicking sportswear, or lycra should never be washed with fabric conditioner. These fabrics are woven particularly to aid moisture wicking. The conditioner can stick and coat these fabrics blocking the wicking properties and end up coating up odours and bacteria instead of washing them out.
You may often find that some clothes end up feeling waxy. This is due to too much fabric conditioner being used that it hasn't been washed out properly. And so, the conditioner sits on the textile, creating a coating on top of the fabric, masking and trapping any bacteria and odours within.
I personally haven't used fabric conditioners for a number of years, and have never found a problem. If anything, I find the scents of commercial products so empowering that they make me feel nauseous!
Use a Microplastic filter
Washing your clothes releases microplastics into the water, predominantly in synthetic items. If your washing machine does not have a filter fitted in, there are products such as the Cora Ball or the GuppyFriend Washing Bag which can be used with standard machines. The Cora Ball is placed inside the drum with your laundry. It not only traps any microplastics released from the washing of your garments, but also prevents the garment from shedding. Just make sure that anything with straps is placed in a net bag to avoid getting caught in the ball. The GuppyFriend Bag is like a large laundry bag, in which all your laundry is placed inside the bag before placing the bag inside the laundry drum. The microplastics are collected within the bag.
Delicates are delicate!
Delicate items and any clothing with straps should be placed inside a laundry net bag before being thrown in with the rest of the laundry. You don't want delicate items being agitated more than necessary within the laundry drum, nor do you want straps being tangled up with other items of clothing possibly damaging them, or even ripping off the straps during the spin cycle.
Wash on a cold or 30˚ cycle
Most natural detergents are now created to work with cold temperatures, breaking down bacteria, and keeping clothes fresh. Washing at hot temperatures can damage certain fibres and cause shrinkage. Not to mention that heating up water uses more energy and therefore also adds to your bills!
Wash similar items together
The obvious one here is to keep similar colours together. This will help keep your light coloured items from fading and greying out. Using a natural 'bleach' such as sodium percarbonate can help brighten up your whites. Washing dark coloured items together will prevent colour fastness from happening more quickly.
As well as colours, think of the fabric. Hardwearing cottons can be washed together on a higher spin cycle than with delicate fabrics which should be spun on the lowest cycles.
Have a go at darning a sock or any holes in your tops. You'll be amazed at how many socks you've saved from landfill! Mending not only makes the garment look better but also prevents the tears/holes from getting any bigger.
Visible mending such as Sashiko, a Japanese technique/artform, is a beautiful way to turn a rip or hole into a little piece of wearable art.
Using embroidery to sew up and add a new detail is a cute way to add interest to a garment - think of a little embroidered bee at the waist of a jumper that's really covering up an old hole!
Alter garments you don't often wear
There's always a garment or two down the back of your wardrobe which you never wear because you're a little unsure about it. Have a good look at them and see if you can alter them in any way, to make them fit differently. It doesn't have to be too tricky. For example, I recently shortened a denim shirt/dress that I very rarely wore, because the length always felt awkward - it was too long to look like an oversized shirt, but just that bit too short to wear as a dress. I decided to shorten it so now I can wear it as a shirt. Plus, sometimes it can feel like a whole new garment!
If you really don't like the garment, or feel it would be too much of a job to alter it into something you would like, then see if someone else in your family, or a friend would want it. Best to have the product being worn than sat in the back of your wardrobe taking up space, or worse thrown in the bin!
Remember, small collective actions make change!
For more information about microplastics, please visit:
- Sign this petition: Stop Ocean Threads - Microfibres Campaign
External links are provided for convenience and information purposes only.
Image credit: cottonbro @ Pexels