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How Can I Make My Clothing Last Longer?

Using too much laundry detergent can shorten the life of clothing.
You can make an item last longer by hand-washing it.
Patches may be used to repair fabric.
A lint shaver can be used to remove pilling from clothes.
Washing clothing in the gentle cycle can help it last longer.
Turning jeans inside out when washing them can help prevent fading.
Use hydrogen peroxide to remove blood stains from clothing.
Denim jeans can fade from washing.
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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Images By: Kitch Bain, Africa Studio, Theilr, Ganko, Kayros Studio, Lalouetto, Jim Mills, Sergii Moscaliuk
  • Last Modified Date: 26 April 2015
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Excessive laundering can be tough on clothing. To make clothing last longer, doing just a few things differently in the laundry room can make a big difference. You can make clothing last longer by using the gentle cycle or hand-washing items, turning garments inside out before washing, using a non-bleaching detergent and removing stains immediately.

A stain removing product should be worked gently into any spills on clothing as soon as possible. Usually the stain remover should be left to sit for up to an hour before laundering. It's important not to place the washed garment in the dryer unless you're absolutely sure the stain is totally gone because the heat of the dryer could set any stain remaining and make it permanent. The best idea after washing the garment is to let it air dry. Then, if the stain remains, you still have a chance at using the stain remover again, or trying another stain removing product.

Many detergents remove dye along with dirt, so be careful not to use too much soap on clothing you want to last longer. Turning garments inside out before washing may help fading and does help logo printed clothing last longer. Try to use a milder detergent when possible, especially on delicate items.

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Delicate items are usually hand-washed or washed in the gentle cycle of the washing machine, but you can do that with any item of clothing that you want to extend the life of. Gentle washing can reduce the pilling, or small fabric balls that form on some textiles after they're exposed to a lot of machine washing. If you want your clothing to last longer, you should buy the best quality that you can afford.

Dark denim jeans are a popular item of clothing that many people want to last longer. Detergent and rigorous machine washing in hot water can fade dark jeans before their time. If you have dark denim pieces such as jeans, shirts or jackets, you can make this clothing last longer by turning the items inside out and washing them in cold water on the gentle setting. Rather than putting them in the dryer, turn the dark denim items right-side out and hang to dry. To make children’s jeans and pants last longer, sew patches inside the knees at the first sign that the fabric is starting to wear out.

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Discuss this Article

browncoat
Post 3

@Iluviaporos - If you've got well-made clothes of the kind that are going to last for years you probably shouldn't be putting them in a dryer anyway. I know people ignore the labels but if you're going to spend a couple of hundred dollars on a piece of clothing you might as well spend the short amount of time required to take care of it.

Alternatively, if it's something like an expensive suit or dress it might be necessarily to take it to the dry cleaners in order to make sure it won't get ruined in the wash at all.

Vintage clothing in particular might not last very long if subjected to modern washing machines. If it's something delicate than you

really should just hand wash it and try not to get it that dirty in the first place. You don't need to wash everything every time you wear it. There are people who will deliberately not wash new jeans for months in order to wear the dye down in particular ways and apparently it doesn't make any difference to their day-to-day lives.
lluviaporos
Post 2

@clintflint - Apparently one of the newest innovations in clothing care is an airing cupboard that's supposed to simulate clothes being dried in the open air. I suspect you still have to hang them up for them to dry though and I think that's actually what people dislike. It just seems so much easier to throw a load of clothes into a dryer rather than take the ten minutes needed to hang them on a line.

clintflint
Post 1

Don't dry clothes in the dryer at all if you can help it, as that's one of the worst things for wearing them out or shrinking them or otherwise distorting the fabric. I only use the dryer if it's an emergency and I need the clothes quickly and even then I try to just heat them as little as possible and let them air dry afterwards.

If you hang your clothes out on a washing line, inside out, they won't fade and they will smell much nicer when you bring them back in. They also won't shrink. As someone with long legs I end up with my cuffs above my ankles if I put jeans into the dryer.

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