Loved clothes last longer – here’s how to make that happen
Ever had your favorite piece of clothing ruined because you just threw it in the washer and dryer or shoved it in the bottom of your dresser? Yea, us too.
With an estimated $170 million worth of clothingending up in landfills each year, and the average lifespan for an article of clothing falling between 2 to 3 years, taking good care of your clothes has never been more important.
If we want to keep more clothes from entering landfills, that means we’re going to need to keep wearing the clothes we own (#outfitrepeater) and properly taking care of them so they can have longer lifespans. Sustainable fashion isn’t just about buying from brands that do good, it’s also about loving and rewearing the items we’ve intentionally added to our closets.
According to WRAP, a garment’s lifespan (aka how long an item of clothing is kept for before getting thrown out) is affected by a few things: the willingness of the person who owns it to wear it over and over repeatedly (the goal is at least #30wears); technical aspects of the garment like resilient fabrics, dyes, and colors; the owner’s ability to repair or alter clothes or get them mended or altered; and how the clothes are actually cared for. That’s a lot of different factors!
So what does that mean that you should do to keep your clothes looking great for as long as possible? Here are our top 7 sustainable tips.
Don’t Ignore Care Labels
While care labels might seem like another language, they’re there for a reason: to tell you how to properly take care of a garment. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for taking care of garments—they all have different construction, fabrics, and colors that require different types of care. (Sorry, no more shoving everything into the washer and dryer all at once).
Cut Down on the Dry Cleaners
We don’t know about you, but we try to avoid items that say ‘dry clean only’ because, well, that’s just too much effort (and $$$). But it turns out that most delicate items labeled as ‘dry clean only’ can be washed on gentle, lower temperature cycles. Dry cleaning is a highly chemical-intensive process that has negative environmental impacts and can have a negative effect on textiles fibers and consumers’ skin.Where dry cleaning is the only option for the garment, look for environmentally friendly cleaners offering non-toxic and ‘eco’ cleaning services like Green Earth Cleaning.
Use A Mild, Low-Impact Detergent
Sometimes laundry detergents can contain ingredients that can be harsh on both fabrics and the skin. Try opting for a mild detergent, that’s gentle on fibers, colors, and your skin. And when you can, also try to find one that has a lower impact, like biodegradable pods or detergent sheets. One more thing: only use as much deterrent as needed to effectively clean your clothes. Too much detergent (and fabric softener) can leave a residue on your clothes over time. No thanks.
Air Them Out, Baby
You might love the feeling of warm laundry fresh out of the dryer, but air drying is much better for your clothes and the planet compared to tumble drying, which uses a lot of energy to run and can also damage certain fibers. Make sure to pay attention to clothing labels because some garments, like sweaters, might be better dried flat. Also, if you dry your clothes the right way, you may not need to iron them! Win-win!
Mend & Repair
There’s a saying that goes “clothes worth wearing are with repairing.” And tbh, we gotta agree! Every time you buy something, it should be with the intent to wear it for years. And oftentimes that means repairing the item to make its lifespan last longer. And that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do it yourself either. While we def recommend learning some simple mending techniques, taking your pieces to a tailor or seamstress also helps support local artisans!
Did you know the way you store your clothes can have a significant impact on their condition? You want to make sure to store them in a clean, dry, and cool environment that has no contact with direct sunlight. This way you can give your clothing some ‘breathing space’ to prevent wrinkling and fading that would otherwise reduce their lifespan. Avoid cramming clothes into your closet or dresser drawers. And, yes, you should be folding your sweaters! Why? Because hanging them can stretch the fabric significantly. And no one wants a sagging sweater.
Not only will extending the life of your clothes save you time and money, but it also lets you wear and enjoy your favorite clothes for longer!