How to Make Your Clothes Last
A guide to maximizing the lifespan of your garments.

Go Beyond Investing in High Quality

Investing in high quality clothing is just the first step to increasing the lifespan of your wardrobe. Without proper care, even the highest quality clothing can become unwearable quickly.

It’s easy to maximize the lifespan of your clothing. We’ve just become accustomed to replacing our older garments instead — a cycle which is both costly to us and the environment.

Spend a couple minutes to read this article, and you’ll be competing to outlive your clothes.

Wash Your Clothing the Right Way

Washing your clothes will always damage them to some degree. It is a necessary process; so this type of damage is unavoidable.

However, by taking the right precautions, we can minimize the damage washing causes.

Don’t Wash Too Often

The best thing you can do for your treasured garments is to make sure you’re not washing them too often. It’s a common modern habit to wash a garment after you’ve worn it once, regardless of how dirty it is.

Try airing them it out instead to get rid of unwanted odors.

Obvious exceptions are underwear and socks, but even t-shirts and tank tops could be worn multiple times with a simple airing out between wears.

The best way to do this is to hang them outside in the breeze.

Get a Steamer

If you’re unable to hang clothes outside, or need something for urgent situations, use a steamer. Steamers remove odors, kill bacteria and make the textile fibers regain their natural shape.

Steaming is also gentler and faster alternative to ironing your clothes.

When You Do Wash, Wash Gently

Sometimes your clothes get dirty for real, and they need to be washed. Here are a few tips to help you minimize washing damage:

  • Use a washing bag for your delicates. If you have an old pillow case to spare, that works too.
  • Don’t overfill your washing machine. Sure, you don’t want to leave it too empty either, but cramming it full creates unnecessary friction that damages your clothes.
  • Skip the dryer, and air dry your clothes. If you need to use a dryer, reduce the drying time by using dryer balls.
  • Don’t dryclean.
  • Use gentle detergent, and don’t use it too much. Avoid harsh chemicals.
  • Bonus tip: Throw in a Cora Ball to protect the environment by catching the shedding microfibers from your clothes. Use the code ‘MINIMALIST’ to get 10% off.

Storing Your Clothes the Right Way

There are essentially two ways of storing clothes: You either hang them, or you fold them. In terms of not harming the garments, for most clothes the difference isn’t significant.

However, some clothes are important to be stored the right way, or you risk ruining them. Learn these priorities, and you’ll avoid costly mistakes which will diminish the lifespan of your garments:

  • Always fold chunky knitwear and other heavy garments. They will stretch out.
  • Always hang linen. Folding it can create a crease that weakens the fabric. This applies to other delicate materials too.

Do what your space allows you to do with everything else. Usually hanging is the better option, because you’ll avoid wrinkles.

If you’re worried about clothes stretching out, but can’t for some reason fold something, use this strategy.

Broken is Not Trash

Small rips and tears can often be fixed, and most stains can be removed. Don’t automatically assume the garment is ruined.

It’s important that you treat stains as soon as possible. Be sure to have a gentle but effective stain remover at the ready to save your garments in need. Here’s a guide to DIY , if you want to save some money in the process.

Basic mending is not difficult. Here’s a useful YouTube channel to learn from, and here’s a great article by LifeHacker to help you on your way. If you want to be even better — and perhaps teach your friends too — Mend it Better by Kristin Roach is an amazing book.

Here you can find a handy and inexpensive sewing kit.

Older garments that have started to pill can be shaved with a fabric shaver (aka lint remover). The good ones are able to remove the pilling and don’t damage the rest of the fabric. Shaving a garment often makes it look as good as new.

Back to Square One: Invest in Quality

Investing in high quality clothing may only be the first step, but it’s an essential step. None of these tips will magically transform a $2 t-shirt into something you can wear for 10 years.

Fortunately, high quality clothing doesn’t have to break the bank. Affordable quality exists, even for sustainable & ethical items.

Here are some suggestions for high quality, sustainable & ethical clothing:

  • Everlane — One of the frontrunners of direct-to-consumer clothing brands, removing the added retail costs. Huge selection of classic pieces, with good reviews. Strives for transparency in sustainability and ethical manufacturing. US based, worldwide shipping.
  • Pact — The most affordable option. Good selection of comfortable basics. Ships from USA to USA only.
  • Kotn — Closest to perfect essentials we’ve seen. Sustainably and ethically made. Canada based, worldwide shipping.
  • Warp + Weft — Our go-to place for responsibly manufactured denim. Good selection and very size inclusive. Everything is under $100. US based, ships to +20 countries.
  • VETTA Capsule — The queen of versatility. Pieces that can be worn in more ways that you’d imagine. High quality, sustainably and ethically made. US based, ships to +40 countries.

These might not be as cheap as fast fashion brands, but paying a little extra is worth it in the long run applying the methods you just learned.

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