How to Make Clothes Last Longer
Got clothes you love and want to keep them looking like new? Or maybe you want to get the most value from your purchases with your hard-earned money?
Either way, there are many ways to make clothes last longer and looking like new.
It’s important to me to that my clothes always look great. When I shop, I always buy clothes that fit and look attractive.
Instead of constantly buying new clothes, I have learned to extend the life of my clothes so that I get the most wear for my money.
Most of the secrets to keeping your clothes looking like new for a long time have to do with the way you do your laundry.
Laundry is not a dirty word!
Good laundry practices are the key to extending the life of your wardrobe. I will also share my tips for storing your clothes. But we’re going to start with how to launder your clothes.
Most of the people that I know, hate doing laundry. At the same time, most people I know own way too many clothes and they let their laundry pile up until it does become a huge chore.
When you are faced with mountains of laundry, it might seem daunting to take the time to take care of your clothes correctly.
But it is so seriously liberating, to buy less and really take care of what you have. You save time and money AND you always look great and put together.
So, my biggest tip is to buy fewer clothes! Then start taking good care of the clothes you already have.
I’ve included lots of shoppable links below because some of these are not easy to find or are very specific. Read my full disclosure here.
Laundry Tips to Make Your Clothes Last Longer
Don’t wash every time you wear something
If you only wear something for part of the day and you haven’t gotten them dirty or sweaty, then consider hanging them back up when you take them off.
Yes, it’s tempting to just throw them on the floor or basket but once they are wrinkled, you won’t be able to hang them up. Make it a habit, that if something still looks fresh, just hang it back up.
Treat stains the right way
Don’t let stains set. If you can wash it out right away, do that. In my opinion, very few commercial stain removers work very well.
However, there is one exception to that and it is Spray and Wash Stain Stick. I discovered it years ago and for a while I couldn’t find it in stores.
However. I did find it on Amazon and I bought 9 (3 3-packs) and gave them to my favorite people for Christmas. Yes, I know, you wish you were on my Christmas list.
Kidding aside, this bad-ass little tube of magic has saved so many items of clothing!
Just this week, I splashed a bright green smoothie all over a new white shirt. I treated it immediately and let the stain stick sit for a day and it came out of the wash perfect.
It’s also the only thing I’ve found that will get grease out of clothes. It even has worked on things that I’ve tried multiple other stain treatments and washings on
It’s also one that you can treat and not have to wash right away. You put it on a stain, even grease or dark food and then throw it in the basket and let it sit for a few hours. It can sit for days even. When you wash, your stain is completely gone.
Use less detergent
Don’t fill the cup up. Experiment using less detergent and you can see for yourself that your clothes get just as clean. I usually use about half the recommended amount. Along with this, I always use a double rinse.
Most of us wear our clothes so lightly that they don’t really get “dirty.” Over-using detergent can cause it to build up in your clothes and cause them to not look as good.
Plus, it saves money to use less!
Don’t overfill your washer or dryer
I know you don’t like doing laundry and you want to get it done as fast as possible. However, when you fill up the washer, your clothes can’t move around in the water and they don’t get as clean.
Imagine you are in your shower with 10 other people. You aren’t going to be able to clean all those nooks and crannies.
Well, your clothes can’t get clean either when they are packed in the washer!
Plus, it puts more wear and tear on them to be mashed, pushed, and pulled like that.
In the dryer, air can’t circulate properly and clothes stay wrinkled. They will not look like new if you pack them into a dryer with no room to move!
Wash like clothes with like
Towels with towels. Sheets with sheets. Light weight clothes with other light weight clothes. Heavy jeans with heavier clothing items. Light colors with light colors. Dark colors with dark colors.
For real. Don’t wash towels or sheets with your clothes. Either your clothes get lint, or they get wadded up, or they just don’t get as clean.
Detergent for dark clothes
If you have a lot of dark colored pants or shirts, it is helpful to have laundry detergent just for dark clothes. It keeps them from fading. When I wore mostly navy or blue work pants this really helped them stay dark looking.
Use the dryer sparingly
Don’t over dry your clothes. I use the medium or medium high setting and I get the clothes out as soon as they are as dry as I want them.
For some of my clothes, I pull them out as soon as the wrinkles are fluffed out. Then I hang them up to dry the rest of the way. This keeps my shirts, dresses, and blouses looking like new.
This almost eliminates the need to own an iron. I don’t own one and by getting my clothes out of the dryer as soon as the wrinkles are out (5 to 10 minutes) then hanging them up, keeps them looking tip-top.
Another gift for your dryer that eliminates the need for dryer sheets is dryer balls. The can help fluff up your clothes too. This was a Christmas gift I gave my adult children that they first scoffed at but came to LOVE.
Woolzies is the brand we’ve used for years!
Take care of your delicates
If you want your underwear and bras to last, never put them in the dryer. I put bras in special bags so that I can put them in the washer. Be sure to hook your bra. Loose hooks can catch on things.
Handwashing is probably best, but I’ve had good results with the washer on delicate cycle and bras in a protective bag.
After they are washed, I hang them all up. The dryer is very hard on delicate fabrics and elastic. You will see a huge difference when you go from drying your underwear to letting it hang dry.
Zip your zippers
When you put pants, jackets, or jeans in the wash be sure to zip up the zippers. Zippers can catch on other clothes and cause damage.
How to Store Your Clothes to Keep Them Looking New
Keep less clothing
Less clothing means more space for the clothes you have. Your clothes will always look nicer if they are not packed into your closet or drawers.
Packing clothes into your closet creates wrinkles. In addition, you can’t see all your clothes and you won’t wear things on a regular basis.
Use good hangers
I’ve tried them all, plastic, wooden, and the velvet covered ones. My favorites for tops are the Joy Mangano Huggable hangers. They look wonderful, keep your clothes from slipping, and make efficient use of the room you have.
For pants, I use the hangers that have two clips on them. I don’t like creases in my pants and hanging them like this keeps them nice and unwrinkled. Folding pants over a hanger puts a crease in each leg.
Curate your closet
Curate is a fancy word for clean the junk out and only keep clothes that fit, look great, and that you actually wear. I detail how to do that in my post How to Clean Out Your Messy Closet for Good.
While this might seem like a chore—it is truly something that will make your life better. An organized closet is a beautiful thing. You will never get tired of your clothes looking neat and being able to put together an outfit for any occasion.
Put clothes away immediately
Make a commitment to never ever just throw clothes in a basket or in a pile on your bed or couch. Folding and hanging clothes after they are dry will make a huge difference in how your clothes look.
How to hang your pants
Work pants and jeans go on the hangers that have two clips on them. This way they hang straight without any crease. You can buy a nice version of these but at the moment I still mostly use the hangers that come with clothes I buy.
Use drawers and shelves to make clothes last longer
What’s worse than having to hang things up? Folding them! Again, this is something you have to do right after your clothes come out of the dryer or off the line.
I have an armoire for all my folded clothes. Drawers or shelves in your closet are fine too. I always fold the following clothes:
- Casual tee-shirts
- Tank tops
- Bike jerseys
- Workout clothes
These types of clothes often look the worst because we take the worst care of them. However, my workhorse tanks and camisoles have lasted for years because I take care of them.
Beyond Making Clothes Last and Look Like New
Even taking care of your clothes does not mean that you won’t be buying new things. One of the best ways to motivate yourself to take care of your clothes is to only buy things that look and feel fabulous.
I have a lot of great shopping tips in this post: Look Good Feel Good: How to Look Great All the Time.
When you buy the right things, you just don’t need to buy as much because you ALWAYS have something to wear. So, clean your closet, do your laundry, take care of what you have, and only buy what looks and feels amazing.
As a postscript, I don’t iron any of my clothes or use dry cleaning. The above tips almost eliminate the need to iron anything and I just don’t need to have anything dry cleaned anymore.
Stay on Track!
Sustain your motivation, stay on track, and illuminate all of the changes your making (even the subtle ones) by grabbing my free tool!
Hi, I'm Sara and I'm so happy you're here! My Think Big Life began shortly after I turned 50. Big changes can happen with a small start, an adjustment of thought, or a simple process. Over time, you transform your life into the one you always dreamed of having.