How to Take Care of Your Clothes & Help Your Simplified Wardrobe Last Longer

(sleeve and front of a teal knit sweater on a white background) Title graphic: How to Take Care of Your Clothes & Help Your Simplified Wardrobe Last Longer

Today’s post will share some simple tips to help you learn how to take care of your clothes and help them last longer.

Specifically, to help you keep the clothes in your simplified or capsule wardrobe in good condition to last longer. But they are also good tips for anyone hoping to extend the life of their clothes. Regardless of how big or small their wardrobe is.

Does a smaller wardrobe mean your clothes wear out faster?

When I first simplified my wardrobe and created a capsule wardrobe, I was concerned that fewer clothes would mean more wear and tear on the clothes that were left. And that my clothes would wear out faster because I’d be wearing them more and washing them more.

I know I’m not alone in this concern. It’s one of the more common questions people ask me about my simplified wardrobe.

And it’s definitely a valid concern. If the goal of simplifying your wardrobe is to get rid of the things you don’t look and feel your best in, and only keep the clothes you love, are your favourites and make you look and feel your best, of course, you’re going to worry about your clothes wearing out faster. They are your favourites after all!

But in my experience after 3+ years of dressing from a simplified wardrobe, I’ve found it’s not the case. My clothes don’t wear out faster, even though I have fewer clothes, for two reasons.

Wearing 20% of your wardrobe, 80% of the time

First, even when you have fewer clothes, you probably aren’t wearing your favourite clothes any more than you did when your wardrobe was larger. The only difference is, you only have your favourite clothes in your closet, and you got rid of the extra clothes you rarely or never wore anyways!

In fact, most people, regardless of the size of their wardrobe, tend to wear the same small selection of their favourite items most often. It’s even said that most people wear about 20% of their clothes, 80% of the time.

So, most people are already only wearing a small rotation of their favourite clothes most of the time anyway. The only difference is, once you simplify your wardrobe, you get rid of most of the 80% of your clothes you rarely or never wear. And only keep your favourite 20% instead.

When you love your clothes, you want to take better care of them

And second, when you simplify your wardrobe and only keep your favourite clothes, you will likely try to take better care of them. Simply because they are your favourite clothes and you love wearing them!

That’s certainly been the case for me. Since simplifying my wardrobe, I want to take care of my clothes, because they are the clothes I love wearing. I’m motivated to keep them in good shape and help them last longer, simply because they are my favourites.

(Small stack of sweaters and vase of wheat on a small table in front of a white wall) Title graphic: How to Take Care of Your Clothes & Help Your Simplified Wardrobe Last Longer
Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

How to take care of your clothes – without spending extra time doing laundry

However, I also don’t want to stress about laundry or spend a lot of time and effort taking care of my clothes. Or even thinking about or worrying about clothes all that much for that matter!

The goal of simplifying in general for me is to spend less time dealing with, taking care of and thinking about the stuff I own. All so I have more time, energy and attention for the people and activities I love most.

And that applies to my clothes too. I want clothes to take up less of my time and headspace. So I have more time and headspace to focus on more important things in my life.

I want to shop for clothes less, think about what to wear less, spend less time taking care of clothes, etc. My goal is simplicity – both with my wardrobe and taking care of it.

With this in mind, I have found ways to learn how to take care of my clothes to help them last longer, without needing to spend much extra time or effort on laundry.

In today’s post, I’ll share all the tips I’ve learned with you. Including how to take good care of your clothes and help them last longer. Without it being complicated, expensive or time-consuming.

Simple tips to learn how to take care of your clothes & help them last longer

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1. Use less heat

Heat can shrink clothes and break down the fibres in your clothes faster, especially in stretchy fabrics. It can also cause colours to fade faster.

A super simple way to extend the life of your clothes is by using less heat.

Wash clothes in cold water. Most clothes, unless they are extremely dirty, will be cleaned just fine in cold water.

And use less heat when drying clothes as well. For most clothes, I put them in the dryer for a few minutes to soften them and release any wrinkles. Then either hang them to air dry or dry them flat after that.

2. Only wash clothes when they are dirty

Another easy way to extend the life of your clothes is by waiting until they are dirty before washing them.

Washing clothes less often is an easy way to do less laundry and help your clothes last longer too!

Many clothes can be worn more than once before washing. Of course, undergarments, work out clothes and anything sweaty or visibly dirty should be washed after every wear.

But many clothes can often be worn a couple of times before washing. And some clothes, like jeans, can be worn several times before washing.

Washing your clothes less, and only when they need it by waiting until they are actually dirty, is a great way to extend the life of your clothes.

3. Wash like with like

Washing like fabrics and colours together is another easy way to reduce wear and tear on your clothes and help them last longer.

First, you can keep your white and light clothes whiter and brighter by sorting laundry by colour. Wash light clothes with other light clothes and darker clothes with other dark clothes.

One great thing about a capsule wardrobe is you’ll likely end up with a smaller range of your favourite colours to wear. Which can make sorting laundry easier.

Next, consider sorting laundry by fabric type as well. For example, washing lighter weight, more delicate fabrics together. And heavier weight, tougher fabrics, like jeans or towels, in separate loads.

Not only will sorting by fabric type help protect your more delicate, lightweight clothes from tumbling around with rougher fabrics. But if you are using a dryer to dry your clothes, the weight of the fabric can impact drying time as well.

Things like towels and jeans take longer to dry than lighter-weight clothes and fabrics. By the time your towels are dry, other clothes in the load may be over-dried. The extra heat damaging and breaking down the fibres faster.

4. Take simple steps to protect clothes in the laundry

Taking steps to protect your clothes in the laundry doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of extra time or effort doing so. In fact, there are several things you can do very quickly and easily that will go a long way to extend the life of your clothes.

First, take a moment to zip up zippers and do up any buttons before putting your clothes in the wash. This is a very quick and easy way to prevent zippers from catching or snagging clothes in the wash. And helps items hold their shape in the laundry as well.

Next, turn clothes inside out before washing them. Turning them inside out can help protect the outside of clothes from snagging, rubbing, pilling and fading more than necessary while being laundered. And also prevents wear and tear in general to the outside of your clothes.

Another easy way to protect clothes in the laundry is by putting more delicate items in mesh laundry bags before washing them. Again, this helps prevent any snagging, pulling, rubbing, pilling or wear and tear during the wash.

And finally, don’t overload your washing machine. Clothes need room to agitate properly and allow water to move around freely between them to effectively clean your clothes.

5. Use mild detergent

Another easy way to protect your clothes in the laundry is by using a mild laundry detergent that’s gentle on clothes, colours and fibres. Finding one designed for cold water cycles is another great thing to look for.

Then, only use as much detergent as needed to effectively clean the clothes. Too much detergent can leave a residue build-up on clothes over time.

Fabric softeners and dryer sheets can also leave a residue build-up on clothes. The residue can affect the colour of clothes over time. As well as interfere with the performance of some fabrics, like the absorbency of towels and the moisture-wicking properties of sportswear.

6. Treat stains before they set

The sooner you are able to treat stains on your clothes, the better the chances of getting the stain out.

First, learn how to treat different kinds of stains. Then, don’t let stains sit untreated longer than necessary.

Also, check to see if the stain came out before heat drying clothes. The heat will set the stain, making it more difficult to get out.

(sleeve and front of a teal knit sweater on a white background) Title graphic: How to Take Care of Your Clothes & Help Your Simplified Wardrobe Last Longer
Photo by rocknwool on Unsplash

7. Mend, repair and revive clothes

Taking good care of your clothes is another important way to make sure they last as long as possible.

Learn a few basic mending skills so you are able to replace buttons, mend small holes or tears, etc.

A fabric shaver is another easy way to extend the life of your clothes. A fabric shaver removes pills and fuzz off clothes. And it is an easy way to revive older clothes.

Giving clothes a dye-bath is another way to rejuvenate faded colours on older clothes, especially darker colours and black.

Sometimes a little TLC can go a long way to help your clothes last longer.

8. Protect your clothes when you’re wearing them

Another simple way to keep your clothes in better condition and help them last longer is taking small steps to protect your clothes while you’re wearing them.

Wear an apron while you’re cooking to avoid splatters and stains. Have a couple of sets of older clothes you can wear for messier tasks like house cleaning, gardening, etc. to help protect your good clothes from getting too dirty or stained.

The point isn’t to stop wearing your good clothes and only save them for “special occasions”. Wear the clothes you love every day, but find simple ways to protect them during messier jobs and tasks.

9. Store clothes properly

The way you store your clothes can have a significant impact on their condition and how long they last.

Avoid cramming clothes into your closet or dresser drawers. Giving clothes a little room to breathe will not only help avoid wrinkles. But it will also allow clothes to air out and stay fresh.

Hanging clothes is a great way to allow airflow between clothes. But it’s usually best to avoid hanging heavy items and knit items to prevent them from stretching out or becoming misshapen.

If you are hanging heavier or knit items, folding the arms over the hanger can help keep them from stretching out in the shoulders.

Image of cardigan sweater on a hanger with arms hanging down. Try avoid hanging knit items this way
Hanging knit or heavy items this way can stretch the garment and leave hanger marks
front and back view of cardigan sweater on a hanger with the sleeves resting over the hanger to prevent stretching out the sweater
Folding the sleeves of heavy or knit items over the hanger is a great way to prevent stretching and hanger marks in clothes

And speaking of hangers, using good quality wood or velvet hangers can help prevent clothes from slipping. As well as help clothes hold their shape and avoid being stretched out while hanging. Avoid thin wire hangers which can often stretch clothes and leave marks on the shoulders.

If you’re storing out of season clothes outside of your closet, make sure they’re stored properly as well.

Only store clean clothes that are fully dry. Clean, plastic bins are great for protecting your stored clothing and keeping moisture and bugs out. Adding cedar balls to the bin can also help deter bugs and protect your clothes.

10. Only buy clothes you’re willing to care for

Before buying a new item of clothing, check the washing instructions and make sure you are willing to follow any special care requirements.

For example, if you won’t or don’t want to hand wash or dry clean clothes, make sure you aren’t buying anything that requires hand washing or dry cleaning.

And on that note, make sure to read and follow care labels and washing instructions on all your clothes to help them last longer.

11. Buy as good of quality as you can afford

And finally, one last way to take care of your clothes right from the beginning is by buying as good of quality clothes as you can afford. The higher the quality of your clothing, the better and longer it should last.

Often, but not always, higher quality clothing tends to be more expensive. But another great benefit of a simplified wardrobe is that by buying fewer clothes overall, you may be able to buy better quality clothes that cost a bit more.

And buying new isn’t the only way to build a high-quality wardrobe. Shopping second-hand for quality clothes is a great way to stretch your budget. And can be more earth and ethically friendly as well.

Make a list of what items you want to add to your wardrobe, so you don’t feel overwhelmed or lost, then check local second-hand stores and online re-sale shops.

How to take care of your clothes and help them last longer

I hope these tips will give you some ideas to help you learn how to take care of your clothes and help them last longer.

Not only will extending the life of our clothes help save you time and money by not having to replace items. But it also lets you wear and enjoy your favourite clothes for longer!

What’s something you do to help take care of your clothes so they last longer? Leave a comment and let me know!

(Lilacs sitting on a white chair with a hat and sweater draped over the back) Title graphic: How to Take Care of Your Clothes & Help Your Simplified Wardrobe Last Longer
Photo by Tetiana Shadrina on Unsplash

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8 Comments

  1. Another way to restore clothes and make them last longer is to use a steam cleaner which cuts down on visits to the dry cleaners and allows clothing to be deodorized. Freshening up even men/womans suits for the office. Especially if you are in an area of cigarette smoking this can make clothes smell musty for a long time. You can also cut down an extra day on washing in a machine. This also works for shoe/trainers. Deodorizing them.

    1. Yes! That’s a great tip. Thanks for sharing it! You’re right, anything you can do to help refresh clothes and cut down on dry cleaning or washing is a great way to help extend their life. Thanks for offering this suggestion!

  2. I’ve always been faced with an abundance of shoes (many of which have been worn so often they appear worn out). Since simplifying the selection of footwear to choose from, any new shoes I bring home get put on a daily, simple (if you stick to it) maintenance regime. When I come home and remove my shoes they get a quick inspection to see if they’ve suffered any spills or splashes. These are removed immediately so they aren’t allowed to set in and become problematic later. If I had them, I’d put a pair of shoe trees inside to help them maintain shape. I don’t have those so instead of going out to purchase more stuff to take care of my stuff I noticed I had an oversized collection of canvas grocery store bags. I cut them into quarters and stuff them inside the shoes to help keep the shoe surface smooth. The final step is placing the freshly maintained footwear into clear shoe box size storage cases. I also keep a sealed jar with a 50/50 baking soda/laundry soap mix and a toothbrush to brighten up the white soles found on many styles of casual, dress and sports shoes. In my opinion, once this part of a shoe starts to collect dust and discolour it impacts how footwear appears aged. By taking the amount of time and effort I use to brush my teeth, sneakers that are 10 months old look like they just came from the store shelf

    1. What great tips and suggestions! Thanks for sharing. I agree, that doing a little bit of maintenance on a regular basis is a great way to keep things in great condition long term. I admire your commitment to taking good care of your shoes so they will last. Thanks for reading and thanks again for sharing these great tips!

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