I’ve been doing my own laundry since the age of eight. My Dad and I would bond over the power we felt in taking care of our own clothes in our brand new washing machine. But I quickly learned that one wash and dry in hot water and on high heat would take a brand new cotton shirt and make it look like it had been around for all eight years of my life. This infuriated me – why did my clothes have to look old when they weren’t?! And wasn’t there a way to keep my old clothes looking new?! YES – there was. There is! It requires extra time and effort – but it’s worth it.
This post is not genius. It’s not rocket science. But it is encouraging and educational about the simple things you can do to extend the life of your clothing – meaning the color and the quality – so that your favorite pieces keep looking newer, longer. This means you can shop less; you can keep cheaper items from H&M, Target and Forever21 from falling apart quickly; and you can see your colors be just as vibrant as the day you bought them. Here are my rules:
- WASH EVERYTHING INSIDE OUT – Believe it or not, this will help keep the colors from bleeding onto other items. It also keeps the part of the clothing that everyone sees from being exposed to the washer ringer, which can be very aggressive on fabric. Any damage is done to the interior or the clothes, while the exterior is untouched yet still gets cleaned by the motion of the cycle and the detergent.
- USE COLD WATER, THE DELICATE CYCLE AND A GENTLE DETERGENT – I use this cycle for everything except towels, sheets and socks – even for activewear. Here’s why – any speed faster than this and the clothes are being whipped around so harshly that they could fray. Harsh detergents can strip dyes and hot water can cause shrinkage. Think about all those XYZ-designer-for-Target tops we bought. Sure they’re cut well and super-cute, but they are still made from low-quality fabric with less stitches along the seams. This means the dyes will seep out quickly and the threads can come undone easily. If they are washed gently, this is less likely to happen and you can get more wears out of them. I tend to buy detergents intended for babies because they are the most gentle and free of dyes and scents.
- AIR AND HANG DRY (ALMOST) EVERYTHING – Yes it takes A LOT longer than your dryer. So what?! This is the ABSOLUTE, MOST IMPORTANT STEP. Plan ahead and wash clothes a few days in advance of needing to wear them. It takes about a day for them to dry BUT, you’ll avoid faded cottons, frayed seams and shrunken items by doing this. Some items can be air-dried flat like sweaters and cotton tees, while everything else I’ll hang on a drying rack or over the door to my bedroom. We have a clothes line where we are living right now, and it is the best! The things I do not air dry include towels, sheets, socks, old t-shirts, and cotton underwear when I’m in a pinch and down to my last pair.
- HAND WASH BRAS AND LINGERIE – Yes, I think you should spend a touch more on nice panties and bras because you wear them every freakin’ day! If you don’t take precious care of these items, you are simply wasting your hard-earned money. Here’s why – these items sit next to your skin all day, every day which means they are more exposed to your skin oils than say, a skirt, where only the waist band may touch you every other week. Oils break down fibers over time, so without proper care, your drawers will fall apart pretty quickly. Show them some love by washing in a sinkful of luke-warm water and a capful of gentle lingerie wash. I love the Journelle Linden wash!
Like I said, I’m not blowing your mind with brand new information here, but I am suggesting that you protect your investment in your wardrobe by going the extra mile with your laundry. You’ll look like a million bucks without spending it every season!
Share your other tips and tricks in the comments if you’d like!