In this blog post, you will learn everything you need to know about how to make clothes last longer.
All the helpful tips will help prolong the lifespan of your clothes!
Many of them are more than 10 years old!
Yet, a decade ago, I didn’t know anything about slow fashion and I bought almost all my clothing from fast fashion brands.
Over the years, I’ve learned how to make my wardrobe more sustainable and take care of my clothes so that they last many years (including fast fashion pieces!).
I’ve been applying specific tips that I want to share with you today.
Here are 27 tips and ideas on how to make clothes last longer and keep them in good condition!
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How long do clothes last?
I’m sure you’ve regularly asked yourself: “Why do my clothes wear out so quickly?”.
In this modern world where fast fashion is everywhere, finding clothes that last is difficult.
Most brands choose to sacrifice quality to increase the margins of their sales.
As a result, a large proportion of clothes sold on the market are not made to last and wear out quickly.
Of course, how long your clothes last depends on many factors, from how you wash and dry them to how often you wear them to their quality.
How long you’ll be able to keep them will also depend on whether you got them second-hand and they were already used by someone else before.
But on average, the lifespan of clothing in the UK is only around 2.2 years.
This is so little, isn’t it?!
Thankfully, there are more and more sustainable brands taking steps to fight disposable fashion and offering high-quality pieces that are made to last.
But still, we can take action to make the clothes we already have in our closets last as long as possible!
The problem with clothes that don’t last
There are so many environmental issues associated with fast fashion and clothes that are not made to last!
One of the most striking facts is that the equivalent of one garbage truck full of used clothing is dumped in a landfill or incinerated every single second.
This is contributing to the global waste problem we are currently facing.
Another thing worth mentioning is that since clothes do not last long, we have to buy new ones more regularly.
Producing clothes and transporting them all around the world is incredibly polluting and causes serious environmental and ethical issues as well.
If you want to learn more on the topic, make sure to read my blog post about why you should quit fast fashion today (& how to do it)!
How to make clothes last longer?
Thankfully, even if you have lots of poor-quality clothes in your wardrobe, you can still take action to increase their lifespans as much as possible and keep them in good condition longer.
Even your fast fashion pieces!
1. Rotate your clothes
We all tend to wear the same clothing most of the time.
However, when we wear the same piece every day or very regularly, it wears out pretty quickly.
So make use of all the clothes in your wardrobe and rotate your favorite ones with other pieces you love and have.
2. Avoid getting dirty
This one might be straightforward but it is so important!
Sometimes, we are not careful with our clothes and end up with stains and holes all over our favorite clothes.
Always make sure to wear an apron whenever you cook or bake.
Have dedicated clothes for painting or dirty jobs, like cleaning and gardening.
3. Wash your clothes less frequently
Many of us are guilty of throwing our clothes in the laundry basket after only one use.
But is it necessary to do that?
Well, not with everything!
Yes, you should be washing your underwear and socks after one use.
But you may be able to wear other clothes several times before washing them.
Check your clothes for stains and smell them at the end of the day.
If they are not dirty and they still smell fine, consider wearing them again.
Things like jeans, skirts, or sweaters can be usually worn multiple times before you need to wash them.
4. Spot wash whenever possible
A great way to wash your clothes less is to spot-wash them when they have a small stain.
Simply clean out the stain and re-wear the piece again, instead of washing the whole thing.
5. Have a stain remover on hand
Stain remover sticks or pens are very practical for removing stains from clothing and textiles!
6. Learn how to care for specific fabrics
We need to learn how to take care of specific fabrics if we want to prolong their lives.
For instance, it’s good to know that silk should be hand-washed and air-dried, and some pieces can only be dry-cleaned.
Wool should also be treated with care and only washed with cold water.
Leather is another material that requires you to follow specific cleaning instructions.
Plus, it needs to be moisturized with a leather conditioner at least every few months.
Take the time to learn about other fabrics to make sure you take care of them properly and do not accidentally ruin them while washing them.
7. Read fabric care labels
Depending on the fabric, there are specific care instructions we have to follow so that our clothes can last longer.
Before throwing your pieces in your washing machine, make sure to read the labels and pay attention to what is advised.
Follow the instructions to increase the lifespan of your clothes!
8. Separate by color and fabric
You probably already know that you should be washing similar colors together and avoid washing whites with dark garments.
But did you know you should also pay attention to the materials?
For example, avoid washing your delicates with jeans or hoodies with zippers.
Clothes made from similar materials also dry in the same amount of time.
9. Wash in cold water
Heat can damage fabrics, set stains, and cause shrinking, fading, and stretching.
So wash your clothes in cold water as much as you can, especially your delicate pieces.
If you prefer not to use cold water, at least see if you can wash your clothing in warm water instead of hot water.
I usually only use hot water to wash my sheets and towels, and I wash all my clothes in cold water.
All the pieces get cleaned and they last longer!
10. Don’t overload your washing machine
As a result, we should only run full loads of laundry.
However, be careful not to overload your machine because it would not clean your clothes properly.
Also, your clothes would rub against each other a lot more, which can damage them!
11. Avoid using bleach
Bleach is known to disinfect and brighten clothes.
It’s also great for making whites whiter!
However, not only is it very toxic and unsustainable to use, but it can also stain fabrics if you accidentally splash it on your clothes.
It can run onto other pieces as well (in the wash), and damage garments if you use too much of it.
So try not to use bleach if you can.
And if you can’t, always be extremely careful when using it!
Dilute it, and make sure to follow all safety precautions.
12. Use less detergent
Using too much detergent can weaken the fabrics, make them more stiff and dull, and strip away dyes.
So reduce how much laundry detergent you use!
Try only using half of the amount recommended by the brand, and see if it’s enough.
Remember that more detergent does not necessarily mean that your clothes will be cleaner.
You can also add a bit of baking soda: this will help keep colors bright and eliminate any residual odors.
Check out my homemade laundry detergent recipe if you’re unhappy with your current detergent.
It’s natural, sustainable, and cheap to make!
13. Wash your clothes inside out
Whenever you throw your clothes in the washing machine, take a few seconds to turn every piece inside out.
This is especially important with denim, dark colors, and printed t-shirts or hoodies.
Washing them inside out will make them last longer and prevent the colors from fading.
It will also protect the prints on your t-shirts.
14. Close all zippers and buttons
Buttons and open zippers can damage other clothes in the washing machine.
Washing your clothing with all the zippers and buttons closed will prevent them from snagging.
So do not forget this tiny step every time you do laundry!
15. Use a mesh bag for underwear and delicate clothing
A mesh bag is your delicates’ best friend!
Whether you have lovely lace underwear, fragile tights, or a beautiful silk blouse, make sure to protect these pieces in the wash.
To do so, get yourself a few mesh bags specially made for washing delicate pieces.
They are so worth the investment because your delicates will last a lot longer thanks to them!
16. Avoid dry cleaning
Dry cleaning involves the use of a lot of harsh chemicals that can fade and damage your clothes.
The process is also very unsustainable and polluting.
Plus, it’s very expensive!
For all those reasons, only dry clean your clothing when necessary, not more.
17. Air dry clothes or tumble dry them on low
This tip is one of the most important ones to apply if you want to make clothes last longer!
Not only are tumble dryers very energy-consuming, but they are also incredibly hard on our clothes.
Garments don’t like heat, so they wear out pretty quickly if regularly dried in a machine.
They can even shrink and become unwearable.
I have never used a tumble dryer in my entire life and very few people have them where I live.
Living in an apartment, I always air-dry my clothes on a drying rack.
When I lived at my parents’ house, we always dried them in the garden on a clothesline.
Let me tell you, clothing dried by the sun and the wind smells SO GOOD!
Just make sure not to dry dark clothes in the sun to prevent them from fading.
However, drying whites in the sun will actually whiten them!
Also, always dry your wool sweaters flat so they don’t get misshapen.
18. Avoid ironing
Similarly to the previous point, avoid using your iron if possible.
Irons can fade and shrink clothes (or even burn them!), so if you can stay away from them, that’s awesome!
If you can’t give up the iron, remember not to use it at too high a temperature.
Alternatively, consider getting a steamer to get creases out.
You can even place your clothes in your bathroom when you shower, and it should remove light creases from your garments!
19. Store your clothes properly
If you want to make clothes last longer, store them in a clean, dry, and dark closet.
They must be hidden from direct sunlight so that they do not fade.
Also, we should not store them in humid places (like basements) because garments can get moldy and bacteria can grow on them.
If you have clothing you rarely wear or if you store off-season clothes outside of your closet, keep them in garment bags to protect them.
Pillow cases work great too!
20. Know what you should fold and hang
Always fold all your knits and wool sweaters, and store them on a shelf or in a drawer.
If these are hung, they can become saggy and misshapen, which we’d prefer to avoid.
On the other hand, always hang suits or dress shirts so that you don’t have to iron them every time you want to wear them.
21. Use the right hangers
Avoid cheap plastic and metal hangers as these can stretch out your clothing.
Instead, get high-quality wooden hangers.
These will not damage your clothes and they look so much better!
They might be a bit more expensive, but they will also last longer.
22. Keep moths away
If you don’t want to find moth holes in your favorite sweater this winter, take action to keep those unwanted bugs away.
There are chemical options but these are not sustainable or healthy at all so I do not recommend them.
But thankfully, we can choose non-toxic and eco-friendly alternatives!
We can keep moths away by storing some dried lavender in our closets (my preferred option!).
23. Get a fabric shaver
This may seem like an unnecessary gadget, but I swear it’s not!
I got my fabric shaver a few years ago and I’ve been constantly reaching for it whenever my pieces get pilly.
It makes my sweaters and other clothing look like new when most people would have gotten rid of them.
A fabric shaver is a great zero-waste swap and a must-have in every home!
24. Learn to sew
If you can’t sew, know that there are hundreds of simple tutorials on Youtube that will teach you basic sewing skills.
They are very easy to learn, I promise!
Thanks to them, you will be able to make your clothes last longer by mending them.
Make sure to sew fallen buttons back on your shirts.
And fix small holes in your clothes as soon as you see them to prevent them from getting bigger.
25. Re-dye faded clothes
If some of your clothes have faded over time, you can still prolong their lifespan by re-dyeing them.
You simply need to combine garment dye and water and let your clothing sit in the solution for a few hours.
Your newly colored piece will look like new!
Just don’t forget to wash it with similar colors at the beginning to prevent the dye from running.
26. Give worn-out pieces a new life
When your clothes get too worn out and they cannot be mended anymore, upcycle them into other useful things!
You can cut them up and use them as rags, or turn old things into reusable produce bags.
Doing this will give them a new life, reduce waste, and make your clothes last longer, even if it’s not their initial, intended use.
27. Buy high-quality clothing
You cannot do anything about the quality of the clothes you already have.
But at least you can extend their lives by applying all the previous tips, even if they’re poorly made.
Nevertheless, what you can do to have longer-lasting clothes in your wardrobe in the future is to buy high-quality pieces.
Buying clothes from ethical and sustainable fashion brands is usually your best option.
Here are several articles about the best sustainable brands that make high-quality their priority:
- 20 sustainable clothing brands you’ll feel good about supporting
- 14 sustainable shoe brands for an eco-friendly footprint
- 10 sustainable backpacks for school, work, & everyday use
- 13 sustainable swimwear brands for a fun, eco-friendly summer
These brands care about the environment, so they want to create pieces that last.
You are more likely to get quality clothing from them than if you are to buy from a regular brand.
Also, make it a priority to stop supporting fast fashion companies!
Not only are these unethical and unsustainable, but their clothes are also very poorly made and do not last long.
They’re such a waste of money and resources!
High-quality pieces will usually be more expensive (not always though), but they will last so much longer!
Final thoughts on how to make clothes last longer
I hope these tips and ideas on how to make clothes last longer inspired you to take action to try and prolong the lifespan of your clothing.
Applying at least some of them to your life should make your pieces last so much longer, even if they’re of bad quality and from fast fashion brands!
If you cannot do all of them, that’s fine.
Remember that every little thing you do will help.
What are your best tips on how to make clothes last longer?
Which ones have made the biggest difference?
Don’t forget to share this blog post with your friends to help them make their clothes last longer as well!