Top Tips for Making Clothing Last Longer

There is no worse feeling than pulling a piece of clothing out of the wash and realising that is has shrunk, discoloured, or faded. 

Not only is clothing expensive to replace but throwing it away has an environmental cost too. In fact, more than 300,000 tonnes of used clothing goes to landfill in the UK every year, according to WRAP, and globally the fashion industry is responsible for 10 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. So, it’s important that we look after the clothes we have to ensure they last as long as possible. 

Here, we’ve collated our top tips to help you keep your clothing looking as good as new. 

Top Tips for Making Clothing Last Longer: 

1. Quality over quantity 

Where possible, opt for fewer, quality pieces over lots of low-cost items. Cheaper garments tend to be made from synthetic fabrics, such as polyester or nylon, which wear much quicker than natural fabrics like cotton or linen. They also have a negative impact on the environment because they are a type of plastic. 

2. Don’t overfill the washing machine 

Overfilling a washing machine not only means clothes won’t wash properly but they will also rub against each other more. This increased friction can cause damage and fading. Your clothes will also more likely end up in a tight ball, which can be a pain to untangle and puts more strain on the fabric. 

3. Reduce the amount of fabric detergent 

Using large amounts of detergent can increase the fragility of some fabrics, such as Lycra, and can cause them to become stiff or brittle. This is especially the case with garments such as gym wear and stretchy jeans or leggings. Fabric conditioner is a ‘nice to have’, rather than a necessity, so skip it for fragile items and use only in small amounts for harder wearing fabrics, such as cotton. 

4. Wash dark clothing inside out 

To avoid dark clothing fading, always wash them inside out. This also works for graphic t-shirts to prevent the print from cracking and fading. If you dry your clothes on a washing line, keep your items inside out to prevent the sun bleaching them and causing patches of discoloration. 

5. Fold instead of hang 

Hanging heavy items like woollen jumpers can cause the fabric to stretch and become misshapen. Folding items along the seams will prevent this and help minimise creasing. 

6. Don’t wash denim unnecessarily 

Denim doesn’t need to be washed after each wear. Over-washing will compromise the fabric and, overtime, jeans will wear thin. To freshen garments between washes, try hanging them in the bathroom as you shower – the steam will give them a new lease of life. You can also put jeans in a plastic bag in the freezer to kill any bacteria. 

7. Avoid the tumble dryer

A tumble dryer certainly has its place in the home. For example, tumble drying your towels is a great way to keep them soft and fluffy. However, they can also break down the fibres in clothing and make them shrink. Where you can, be sure to use an airer or a washing line to dry your clothes instead. This will also save on electricity which will reduce your household bills and benefit the environment. 

8. Don’t discard shoes in a pile

It’s very tempting to come home after a long day at school or work and dump your shoes in a pile by the door where you have taken them off. However, this can damage your shoes, causing them to wrinkle or become squashed, making them age much faster than normal. Instead, keep your shoes neatly on a shoe rack or shoe tree, avoiding the temptation to stack them on top of each other. 

For more tips on reducing the environmental impact of your belongings, read our top tips for preventing lost items.