The secret to saving money on clothes? It’s all about making them last longer.
Just imagine how much money you’d save if your clothing didn’t shrink, pill, tear or stain. Fortunately, it’s easy to take care of your clothes in a way that will help them last longer — and no, this doesn’t mean hand washing your clothes.
“We live in an era where fast fashion exists, which means that clothes come out at such an affordable price that it can be hard to think of why there’s a need to make them last longer,” says Aya Bradley, a DIY editor at Boureston Media Inc.
“However, learning how to make your clothes last longer can help you decrease your expenses. Doing so can also help minimize the pollution that the fast fashion industry causes.”
Here’s How to Make Your Clothes Last Longer
Try these simple tips to help you make your wardrobe last longer.
1. Separate Clothes by Fabric
You probably know you’re supposed to separate your clothing by color — but you may not know that you should separate by fabric as well, says Beth McCallum, a Scotland-based writer for Oh So Spotless, a site that’s all about cleaning.
“Don’t wash cotton and polyester in the same cycle,” McCallum said. “They require different temperatures and spin cycles. Plus, when they agitate against each other, they can get ruined.”
Make sure to check the fabric care labels to make sure you’re selecting the right temperatures and spin cycles for each kind of fabric before washing them.
2. When It Comes to Detergent, Less Is More
The less detergent you use, the better. In fact, you can use about half of the recommended amount, McCallum said. An excess of detergent can build up on clothing, which can cause them to wear down faster.
The same is true with fabric softener. You may want to skip it and opt for wool dryer balls instead.
3. Use a Delicates Bag
Instead of simply tossing delicate items of clothing — such as underwear — into the washing machine, put them in a delicates bag. This will prevent them from tearing and snagging.
It’s also great for baby items and socks, and it will increase the lifespan of the clothing, says Azza Shahid, a digital marketer with Gigworker.
4. Skip the Detergent Altogether
Yes, this is actually possible. You can buy a laundry egg, which uses natural mineral pellets that remove dirt instead of detergent.
A $35 laundry egg will last for 720 washes. For the average family, that’s about three years of laundry, coming out to .05 per load.
That means you’re protecting the environment, your clothing and your wallet all at the same time.
5. Don’t Overload the Washing Machine
Stuffing the washing machine may seem like an easy way to get your laundry done faster, but you’re also harming your clothes in the process.
Your clothes won’t have the space to agitate in the machine, so they won’t get as clean. Plus, items of clothing rubbing up against each other will cause many fabrics to pill, Shahid says.
6. Wash Your Clothing Inside Out
Yes, even your t-shirts. Washing these items — especially dark clothing — inside out will help preserve the rich, dark tones, says Jen Stark, founder of Happy DIY Home. It’ll also prevent graphics from peeling or cracking with repeated washes.
7. Look for Cotton Blends When You Shop
If you’re shopping for new clothing – and you want this clothing to last, look for cotton blends that have a low polyester content, Stark says.
Also, denser weaves and knits last longer than loose ones.
8. Wash Your Clothing Less Frequently
The best way to make your clothing last longer is to wash them less frequently, says Emily Deaton, a financial journalist who worked at a dry cleaner for many years.
“One of the biggest culprits is jeans,” she says. “They are not meant to be washed after every wear, as this is how they fade so easily.”
Deaton suggests washing jeans twice a week (at most) to keep them in their best condition. You should make sure to wash them at the right temperature, as temperatures that are too low or too high can also affect them.
Nicole Russo, a private stylist and founder of Let’s Get You, a blog about fashion, has a motto: “If it doesn’t smell or have a stain, don’t wash it.”
The less you wash anything, the better — especially garments with any elastane (stretch). When you wash your clothing, you’re putting them through a beating, and each cycle breaks down the fabric, according to Russo.
“Whatever you do, avoid hot water washes, and never, ever put things in the dryer — especially your stretchy favorites,” she said.
You may think you’re tightening them back to their former glory, but you’re actually damaging the materials and fabrication. It’s partially why jeans lose their stretch, which is when you start to get that sagging bottom or need to pull them up constantly.
9. Store Your Clothing Correctly
Clothing is vulnerable to confined spaces and overexposure to sunlight, Bradley says. That’s why Bradley suggests not storing clothing in areas where they can get moldy or be exposed to direct sunlight.
You also want to give your clothing breathing space in your closet and dresser drawers so they don’t fade, wrinkle or rub with other clothing, Bradley says.
And finally, don’t store them where bacteria may grow.
10. Get Better Hangers
Most hangers, especially wire hangers, will inevitably stretch the shoulders of your garments, according to Bradley.
Wooden hangers can be a bit more expensive, but investing in them can help your clothes last longer. The money you save on clothing means your wooden hangers will end up paying for themselves down the road.
Danielle Braff is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance website that empowers millions of readers nationwide to make smart decisions with their money through actionable and inspirational advice, and resources about how to make, save and manage money.