The rising popularity of fast fashion has significantly changed people’s attitudes toward clothes. The low prices are encouraging many to keep up with the trends and purchase more clothes than ever before. But since cheap and mass-produced garments only last a few wears, fast fashion is also causing people to throw away clothes at an unbelievable rate.
Did you know that the average American discards around 37 kilograms of clothes yearly? But that is not all. Over 80% of these discarded items aren’t recyclable, so most of them end up in landfills or incinerators. No wonder the clothing waste caused by fast fashion is wreaking havoc on the planet.
If you want to do your part in helping curb the environmental impact of fast fashion’s throw-away culture, there are two things you can do. First, you may want to shop for high-quality women’s tights, tops, and other clothing pieces from reputable brands espousing sustainable fashion. Secondly, you need to learn how to care for and extend the lifespan of clothes you already own, so you can continue to enjoy wearing them for years to come. Apart from helping the planet, these clothing care habits can save you money and ensure that your outfits always look good. Here are six care tips you should always apply to your clothes:
Wash Only When Necessary
Washing your clothes after every use may seem like a good idea because you are keeping them clean and bacteria-free, but the process can also shorten the lifespan of your clothing. You may not realize it, but the tumbling action of your washing machine and the chemicals in your detergent are causing your garments to lose their shape, color, and fabric integrity—one wash at a time. What’s more, you are wasting precious water and energy when you launder too frequently.
Instead of mindlessly throwing your worn clothes into the hamper at the end of the day, you may want to sort them first to see whether they need to be washed or not. As a general rule, underwear, gym clothes, and socks require laundering after every use. But most clothing items like jeans, sweaters, and coats can be worn multiple times unless they have prominent stains or emit a strong unpleasant odor. You can even wear your bras twice or thrice before washing them to preserve their shape and elasticity.
Launder with Care
Although you can wash most of your clothes less frequently to minimize wear and tear, you still need to wash them at some point. And when you do, you better launder with care to reduce the negative impact on your clothes and the environment. If you are wondering how you can wash with minimal damage, below are a couple of pointers you may want to keep in mind:
- Pay attention to care labels. Always read and follow the care instructions on clothing tags because they contain valuable information, straight from the manufacturers, on the best way to clean and care for your clothes to prevent shrinkage, color fading, and damage.
- Sort your laundry. Aside from sorting your laundry according to color to prevent ruining lighter fabrics, you may also need to separate them by texture to maintain the integrity of more sensitive items. The last thing you want is to ruin your delicate blouses, lace panties, and similar garments by washing them with heavier pieces like your jeans and sweaters.
- Use mesh laundry bags. The friction caused by the washer’s tumbling and washing action is the primary culprit why your washing machine tends to ruin the fibers of your garments. Prevent this from happening by putting your delicate clothes inside mesh laundry bags before throwing them in the machine.
- Turn clothes inside out before washing. Make it a habit to turn your garments inside out before putting them in the washer to reduce friction that ruins clothes. This practice can also help preserve the color, prevent odor retention, and protect decorative elements in the clothes.
- Wash your clothes in cold water. Contrary to a common misconception, washing laundry using hot water is not necessarily better. On the contrary, doing so wears fabrics out and consumes 90% of the washer’s energy. That said, you should wash laundry in cold water to extend the life of your clothes and save precious energy.
Line Dry Your Laundry
Machine drying your clothes may seem more efficient, but this method does more harm than good to your clothes and the environment. Aside from causing wear and strain on the material of your garments because of the tossing and tumbling action and the high heat, using the dryer also consumes tons of energy and emits significant carbon dioxide in the air.
That said, you may want to dry your laundry using the old-fashioned way—line drying. Although hanging your freshly washed clothes on a rack or clothesline entails more effort, the process offers tons of benefits. For one, air drying is gentler on the garments and helps freshen clothes using sunlight. More importantly, this drying technique requires practically no energy, which means significant savings on your end and lesser greenhouse gas emissions that can harm the planet.
Organize Your Clothes Properly
Aside from learning how to wash and dry your clothes properly, it is also essential that you know how to organize them correctly to keep your garments clean, dry, wrinkle-free, and in good condition. If you do not know where to begin, below are things you can do:
- Ensure that your clothes are clean and dry before storing them in the closet. Otherwise, the dirt and dampness may attract moths or result in the growth of mold and mildew, which can eventually cause irreversible damage.
- Keep your clothes in a clean, dry, and cool environment—away from direct sunlight and heat that can cause color fading and damage.
- Fold stretchy clothing articles, like sweaters and t-shirts, to lessen the strain on the fabric.
- Hang clothes made of wrinkly, flowy, or delicate fabrics using quality wooden hangers to preserve their shape and form.
- Avoid overstuffing your closet to keep your clothes fresh and wrinkle-free.
Look After Your Clothes
If you want to wear your favorite clothes for many years, it is not enough that you wash them when they are dirty. You may also need to protect your garments from stains, splatters, and other things that can ruin them. For instance, you may want to wear an apron while cooking. Or maybe you can change into old clothing after coming home from work before tackling household chores, gardening, painting, or doing other messy tasks to preserve the look and quality of your fancier outfits.
Learn How to Mend Your Garments
Keep your clothes wearable by learning how to mend clothing issues before the damage becomes irreparable. For starters, you may want to practice your sewing skills, so you can readily repair minor problems like tiny holes, rips, or loose buttons. But if the damage requires sewing expertise that you don’t have, take the garment to a reliable tailor who can do the work for you. Aside from helping you repair damages, a good tailor can also alter the fit, length, or style of your favorite pieces so that you can wear them over and over.
As you may have realized from this piece, caring for your clothes requires a thoughtful process. You need to be intentional in every step, from determining when and how to wash your clothes to learning proper storage and mending. The process may take time and effort, but the benefits are worth the trouble. Aside from saving you tons of dollars by preserving the life of your clothes so you can enjoy them longer, you are also reducing clothing waste and helping the environment recover. So, take the above tips to heart and learn to incorporate them into your maintenance routine today.