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For eco-conscious fashion fans, making clothes last longer is the first step to an ethical and sustainable wardrobe. Not only does it save us time and money, but it also cuts our consumption and helps to reduce our carbon footprint. Extending the active life of a piece of clothing by just nine months can significantly reduce its environmental impact, while the harmful emissions of a piece of clothing can be reduced by 24% over the year by doubling its lifespan from one to two years. Buying clothes that are built to last long is one thing — but there’s a lot you can do to make them endure. Our biggest takeaway is, that first and foremost, everything we wear should be enjoyed and accessorized with a joie de vivre and not with the fear of it getting ruined. 


ENUFF brings you the ultimate guide on taking care of your clothes correctly to prolong the life of your favorite items. 

  1. Wash less


Think twice before washing your clothes. Unless they smell or are visibly dirty, you don’t need to wash your clothes after every wear. Washing garments too often can actually cause damage to the fibres and hence decrease the lifespan. This is especially true with dry cleaning, which uses harmful chemicals that flatten the natural fibre follicles in some fabrics. Jeans and sweaters, for example, don’t need to be washed after every wear! Jeans were actually made for that! Items like t-shirts and gym wear should be washed after every wear because they are in closer contact with your skin; absorbing more dirt and sweat. You can always spot-treat the stains if any. To keep them fresh for longer without actually washing, you can hang them in your bathroom while you’re enjoying a hot shower. This helps refresh the garments. Overwashing is not only likely to drain off the colours of your clothes and have it’s elastic stretch, but it may end up in a hot dryer only to shrink, fade and sometimes fall apart altogether.

  1. Wash at low temperatures

When it’s time to do your laundry, always wash your clothes at lower temperatures. For an average shirt over a year, 80% of the emissions produced during the ‘in-use’ stage of its life cycle are from washing and tumble drying. Washing at 30° or less helps to reduce those emissions, while also protecting your clothes. The exceptions might be items that are in close contact with your skin, such as underwear, bedding and towels which may need a higher temperature wash. Cold water also helps to prevent the fabric from shrinking. 

  1. Pay attention to care labels

Different materials need different approaches to laundering. Wool, for instance, should only be washed when absolutely needed, using a specific wool detergent on a gentle cycle or handwash. Delicate fabrics such as cashmere and silk, which are particularly vulnerable to damage by harsh chemicals and heat, need special care. Pay careful attention to the instructions on the label, which advise you on the maximum recommended temperature an item should be washed at. If the wash care label suggests a cold water wash or dry clean only, it is essential to follow those instructions. Doing so helps preserve these garments from damage, shrinkage, discolouration etc. 

  1. Cut down on dry cleaning 

One in three consumers avoid buying a garment that says dry clean only on the label thanks to the extra effort involved in cleaning the item, but actually most delicate items labelled as ‘dry clean only’ can be washed on gentle, lower temperature cycles (unless the item has details that might become damaged in the washing machine). Dry cleaning is a highly chemical intensive process that has negative environmental impacts and can have a negative effect on textiles, fibres and consumers’ skin. Where dry cleaning is the only option for the garment, look for environmentally friendly cleaners offering non-toxic and ‘eco’ cleaning services.

  1. Use eco-laundry powders and detergents

Standard detergents can contain fossil fuel-based substances, which can have negative effects on the environment as they don’t biodegrade. Thankfully, there are now a growing number of eco-laundry products that are made from biodegradable, plant-based ingredients, which also have the added bonus of being refillable. To wash your regular clothes you may use your regular detergent. However, if you are washing expensive, delicate, embroidered or clothes with embellishment, always hand-wash them using a mild detergent. Mild detergent is gentle on clothes, can work wonders and is completely safe to rely upon. 

  1. Wash inside out

An extra handy tip is to wash clothes inside out when machine washing, and to avoid overfilling, as this can cause friction and damage the fibres. Garments like denims or jackets should be turned inside out to keep their colour from fading. It is also important to wash them separately. These items when put to wash with others, can cause abrasion inside the machine and can damage other materials.

  1. Air dry

There’s nothing like that freshly laundered, air dried smell when you get your clean clothes washed. And not only does it smell great, air drying is also better for your clothes and the planet compared to tumble drying, which uses a lot of energy to run. Therefore, air drying your clothes on a clothing line or a rack is a lot gentler than tossing it in the dryer because it prevents static cling on fabrics. Also, if you dry your clothes the right way, you may not need to iron them! After taking your laundry out of the washing machine, it’s often all tangled. So, the first thing you need to do is shake out the clothes and then get them into the shape you want to wear them in. This way, you will minimise the look of wrinkles on your clothing.

  1. Store properly

Correct storage can really prolong the lifespan of a garment. Store all clothes in a cool and dry space to protect them from damp, sunlight, and heat, which can all cause damage. Humid environment can promote the growth of mould. Once in a while, keep the doors of your closet open for a while to allow air circulation. Make sure clothes are clean before storage, as dirt and surface debris can attract cloth moths. Try storing your knitwear with lavender or moth balls for added protection against these moths. It’s important to not overfill your wardrobe, as clothes need breathing space and this will also prevent wrinkling and colour loss from clothes rubbing together. Hanging garments in your closet helps retain their shape and keeps them free of wrinkles. Always use wooden or padded hangers to further protect garments from becoming misshapen. Avoid wire and plastic hangers as much as possible. When it comes to heavy garments such as sweaters, rolling and storing them on a shelf is a good option. If stored on hangers, these garments may stretch out and lose their shape. Avoid storing your garments until they are completely dry. When you store partially wet garments in your cupboard, it might develop a foul smell. Damp conditions are also a breeding ground for mould and bacteria. Avoid keeping your garments in places such as your bathroom where bacteria are more likely to grow and damage them.

  1. Repair and refashion your clothes

Many people no longer wear their favourite item because it’s damaged, stained or it no longer fits them, or because they no longer like the style. Repair any damage to a garment when you first notice it. This will keep the item out of landfill and in a wearable state as well as will increase the lifespan of the item as the damage will get worse over time if left unresolved. Simple alterations at the waist or shortening a full-length dress into mid or short length can give you what feels like a fresh new outfit, and also keep your old favourites updated with the latest style. We can all build a sustainable closet by purchasing from sustainable brands and collections, as well as by giving a second chance to pre-owned items but that’s not what sustainability truly means. Ultimately, having a sustainable wardrobe means making the most out of what you have.Therefore, if you can, it’s important to take good care of the clothes you own in order to make them last longer.

  1. Protect your clothes!

However, we should all be protecting them from damage and stains. For example, when you are wearing a nicer-looking outfit because you have a dinner party at your house, wear an apron while cooking in the kitchen. An apron can protect your outfit from the majority of stains and spills that are bound to happen when in the kitchen! If you do happen to get stains, do make sure to get rid of them as soon as you can with a stain remover pen or a DIY concoction of vinegar and baking soda. The longer you leave the stain, the harder it is to remove. After the stain is gone, wash your clothes properly.

  1. Go for quality over quantity

Invest in clothing that holds better quality and often last longer because they are constructed with stronger materials and are made to stand the test of time. Therefore they can withstand multiple washes and wear. Ask yourself: what are your wardrobe staples that complement your personal style? Will it match with other items you already own? Try to invest in higher-quality wardrobe staples because it may be worthwhile to spend a little more money on them. However, note that higher prices do not always guarantee high quality. There are some factors to look out for to spot clothing that is well-made. You can look for high quality stitching and fabrics. Natural fabrics such as organic cotton and linen are great.

  1. Last but not the least, love your clothes

In order to get as much wear as possible, you’d need to love your clothes. Try to look at them from a whole new perspective by styling them in new ways. For example, you can try incorporating them with different pieces or accessories that you haven’t worn previously. Just by doing this, you can feel like you have expanded your wardrobe by creating new outfits with the items that you already own! If you don’t love your clothes, it is more likely that you will not wear them often and they will stay in your closet for a long time. Yes, finding clothes that you truly love can be time-consuming and will require some trial and error. But once you find the clothes that really flatter your body and make you feel confident, you’ll never stop loving them and hence, they’ll stay with you throughout their lifespan.

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