7 ways to save your clothes from extinction (and you may even find Narnia at the same time!)
Well, that may not be quite true as I can’t save you from fashion failures or changing trends but what I can do is share some tips to help you get up to 5 times longer wear from your clothes and avoid contributing to the 350,000 tonnes of used, but wearable, clothes that end up in our landfill sites every year!
Clearly, with children (and any grown ups out there who are suffering from post lockdown Covid bodies!), clothes may just be grown out of and have no further use however there are lots of ways to make clothes last longer that may otherwise have been thrown away just because they appear to be damaged, stained or too small.
So here are my top 7 ways to make your clothes last longer (and maybe discover treasure while you are at it!):
1) Buy as good a quality as you can afford –
Good quality clothes tend to last longer because they are made from better quality materials and with better craftmanship. They are also less likely to have been culprits of the ‘fast fashion’ business model where everything is fast … production, purchase, delivery and discard which encourages over-consumption and generating excessive waste. Of course the argument is that buying quality is more expensive, which is true, however if you look for preloved items from sources such as charity shops, auction sites and Thrift+ you can find some great value quality clothes.
2) Store clothes properly –
Ideally store clothes in a cool, dark place, fold jumpers and add lavender to drawers (it repels moths and also makes your clothes smell lovely!). Try to avoid wire and plastic coat hangers which can stretch the shoulders of clothes and leave them saggy, use wooden ones instead.
3) Rotate your clothes –
Wearing your same favourite clothes all the time will wear them out quicker, give them a rest and rediscover the fashion treasures (or Narnia!) hiding at the back of your wardrobe that don’t see daylight as often. Did you know that 30% of clothes in people’s wardrobes have not been worn for a year or more - who knows what you might find!
4) Know your stain removal products –
Don’t give up on clothes that are marked or stained … there are lots of effective stain removal techniques (both chemical and natural) that may help your clothes see another day. In the Twinkling Tiger wash our most used are bleach (dab it onto marks on anything white or dilute it and soak those grubby school socks – I promise you it works 90% of the time!), washing up liquid (on any stain or mark … particularly if it is grease based or make up related) and white vinegar (saturate grass stains or tomato sauce stains then wash as normal, soak ink stains then spray with hairspray before washing … it’s also good to use instead of fabric softener to keep your towels fluffy!)
5) Wash smarter –
- Wash your clothes less, particularly jumpers, not everything needs to go in the wash after one wear, could it go another wear before it needs washing?
- Use the right washing machine setting (read the care labels and believe them), your clothes will keep looking new for longer.
- Wash dark colours (and printed t-shirts) inside out to help stop them fading or cracking.
- Zip all zips, tie all drawstrings and fasten velcro together to avoid snags happening during washing, a delicates bag might help.
6) Dry smarter –
Tumble drying using high heat fades and shrinks clothes as well as breaking down elastic fibres in clothes so line or air dry clothes if possible. Ideally dry whites outside (they do smell lovely and even in the colder weather will still dry) and darks inside (to prevent fading).
7) Repair and restore more –
You don’t need to be a master seamstress to make minor repairs, let hems down (or take them up) or get rid of bobbles. A fabric shaver (costs around £10) can effectively remove bobbling from clothes and give them a new lease of life, a basic ladder (invisible) stitch can mend small holes and Wonder Web hemming tape fixes turn ups or creates new ones in a jiffy with the help of an iron. If you are feeling more creative or are more skilled then there are all sorts of other ways to add to or embellish clothes to give them another chance to be loved again.
If you do want to get some more inspiration about how to make your clothes last longer and buying responsibly then Love Your Clothes is a great website and also has Facebook page (@LoveYourClothesUK) for more tips, videos and guidance.