Clothing Care: Making Your Clothes Last Longer

A version of this article was first published on Porch.com

Whether it’s your favorite wool coat or a pair of slacks, taking good care of your clothes will help them last longer. Quality clothing is an investment, so it’s essential to care for it properly to wear for a long time to come. This guide shows you how to care for a variety of different types of clothing. You’ll also learn a few laundry tips and tricks for ironing clothing correctly, washing machine cycles, hand washing tips, and how to care for delicate items. Drying, folding, and stain removal tips are also included, so you can practice good clothing care that will keep your favorite outfits fresh and in excellent condition well into the future.

Laundry tips 101

Here are some helpful laundry tips, so you can care for your favorite clothing the right way to help it last longer.

Laundry symbols

Also called clothing care symbols, these small pictures indicate the clothing maker’s suggestions for caring for the item correctly. These important symbols show you how to wash, dry, dry-clean, and iron all of your clothing per the unique recommendations. Understanding the meaning of these symbols makes it easier to ensure that you’re cleaning your clothes the correct way to extend their lifespan.

Reading labels and laundry symbols meaning

All clothing tags should include some laundry symbol or symbols to serve as a handy quick care guide. The washing symbol indicates whether the item should be machine or hand washed. It may also show whether the item should be dry cleaned or if dry cleaning should be avoided. Washing temperature symbols indicate whether the clothing should be washed between 65F and 85F, at temperatures of 105F max, or a hot cycle of 120F max.

Other symbols

Aside from the washing symbols on your clothing tags, there should also be symbols indicating the proper way to dry and iron the clothing. The symbols will indicate whether to dry the item and at what temperature. Another symbol indicating whether or not bleach should be used will be included, too. Finally, look for the ironing symbol that will show you if the article of clothing requires a clothes iron and, if so, at what temperature.

Detergent and fabric softener

Using detergent and fabric softener the right way can extend the life of your clothing, too. Here are some washing machine tips and some dos and don’ts when using your laundry detergent and fabric softener.

Do

  • Fill the washing machine with water and detergent before you add your clothes. This will help the detergent and fabric softener dissolve properly.
  • Use detergents without added fragrance or colors if you have sensitive skin.
  • Choose wool dryer balls to soften your clothes without fragrance or a liquid fabric softener or dryer sheets for a subtle scent if you prefer.
  • Make sure you use the appropriate type of detergent for the clothing you wash. Some detergents are too harsh for delicates, like lingerie and undergarments.
  • Avoid using too much detergent to prevent leaving residue on your clothes.

Don’t

  • Use bleach on certain fabrics, particularly dark colors, unless you dilute it first.
  • Add too much detergent or fabric softener as it may weaken fibers or leave a film on your clothes.
  • Put liquid softener directly on top of your clothes, or it may damage them.
  • Leave your wet clothing in the washer for too long. Doing so may cause mold and mildew to build on your clothes and inside the machine.

Tips and tricks for ironing, line drying, and folding/hanging

Clothing care also involves making sure that you iron, dry, and fold or hang them the right way. Here are some tips and tricks to help you do it right.

How to iron a shirt

  • Follow the directions per the laundry care tag symbol to ensure you’re using the iron in the appropriate heat setting.
  • Use an ironing board and slowly move the iron across the shirt’s fabric in the same direction.
  • Start with the collar, then move on to iron the cuffs, yoke, back, front, and sleeves in that order for a perfectly ironed shirt.

How to iron a dress

If your dress has a belt, remove it and iron this first. Next, using the right setting and an ironing board, start with the collar and move onto the yoke, sleeves, and finally the body of the dress.

Line dry tips

  • Always clean your clothesline with a wet rag before hanging items to dry.
  • Shake your clothing before you hang it to help remove any wrinkles.
  • Hang shirts by the hem and jeans and pants by the waistband.
  • Always use quality clothespins that will keep each item securely in place until it is scorched.
  • Remove your clothing from the clothesline as soon as it’s dry to keep it clean and prevent it from falling onto the ground.

How to fold a shirt/t-shirt

Lay your shirt on a flat surface before folding it. Smooth any wrinkles with your hand, pull the shirt taut, and then fold it sideways into thirds, bringing the sleeves in. Next, fold the shirt in half from the bottom up. Repeat this step, so the shirt is now half its size, then place it in your dresser drawer or on a closet shelf to store it.

Use the right hangers

Using the best clothes hangers will help your clothing last longer. For heavy items like coats and denim, wooden hangers are best. Velvet hangers look excellent, take up less space, and work well for delicate items made of silk or linen. Look for hangers with hooks or notches to help you hang items with thin straps. A hanger with a bar is a good option for pants and jeans.

Keep these clothing care tips in mind, so you can ensure that your favorite articles of clothing last longer. With the proper laundry care, drying methods, ironing techniques, and storage, you’ll be able to save money on clothing, all while helping the environment, too. Practicing the correct type of laundry care for different materials ensures that your favorite dresses, jeans, tops, and other clothing will provide you with various outfits for years to come.

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