Lifehack is powered by Vocal.
Vocal is a platform that provides storytelling tools and engaged communities for writers, musicians, filmmakers, podcasters, and other creators to get discovered and fund their creativity.
How does Vocal work?
Creators share their stories on Vocal’s communities. In return, creators earn money when they are tipped and when their stories are read.
How do I join Vocal?
Vocal welcomes creators of all shapes and sizes. Join for free and start creating.
To learn more about Vocal, visit our resources.Show less
When I was younger, clothing always just tore apart at the seams for me—even "rugged" backpacks like the ones from Jansport. My clothing would tear so frequently, I used to joke about them simply dissolving in the rain. I never really figured out why my clothes didn't last too long.
That said, my clothing these days last a lot longer. Sure, I could say that it's due to my decision to spend a little more on gear, but I don't think that alone is the full reason why my clothes last longer. Textiles really aren't that expensive!
Truth be told, I was pretty fed up with my clothes being worn only once before they'd need to be tossed. To combat it, I took a lot of time to research how to extend the life of clothing. Here's what I learned from my years caring for clothes.
Don't take your clothing washing directions for granted.
Clothing manufacturers generally don't want to have a reputation for making gear that gets destroyed after one or two washes. To make sure their clothes last as long as possible, manufacturers show the best way to wash clothes with care.
If it tells you to wash your clothing with like colors, listen to them. If it tells you to use cold water, don't use warm, since it will probably make colors run. If you notice that it tells you "dry clean only," putting it in the wash will probably destroy the fibers of your favorite shirt.
Don't always wash your clothing after a single wear.
The cleaning industry definitely got people more persnickety than they once were. We now have cleaning products that weren't even invented 100 years ago, and advertising brainwashed us into thinking that laundry had to be done every day.
Truth be told, you don't actually need to wash your clothing after each wear—nor should you. Every wash damages the fibers in your clothing. Unless you're looking for ways to get blood stains out of everything, it's better to try to wear it at least three times before it hits the washing machine.
Use mild, hypoallergenic laundry detergent.
Have you ever spilled laundry detergent on your hands? Or worse, have you ever had bleach spilled onto you skin? After a little while, it burns. Have you ever stopped to think that that's what is going on your clothing.
The soaps that clean your clothes, even those that contain that one stain remover you swear by, damage your clothing fibers. If you want to limit the damage, stick to an extra mild detergent that's fragrance-free and hypoallergenic.
Scrape away dirt off suede, and use a razor on pilled sweaters.
It's amazing how much wear and tear our clothes get that can be eliminated by just scraping it away. You can clear dirt off suede sneakers and jackets by using a nail file to buff away grit.
Sweater pilling is annoying, but can be removed fairly quickly with a razor. Just "shave" your clothes, and your sweats will be pill-free soon enough. Is that a cleaning hack you wish your mom taught you, or what?
Spray down pantyhose and stockings with hair spray.
Back when I wore stockings, I really, truly hated how quickly they faded away. Even the smallest thing seemed to either annihilate them, or make them cling directly to my legs. I learned that spraying down that static-cling destroying spray onto my stockings would keep my skirt from sticking to my legs.
In adulthood, I learned that using hair spray can help extend the life of clothing like pantyhose. How? I don't know, but I don't question it. If it prevents a run, I'm happy.
Turn your sweaters, denim, and graphic tees inside out before you drop them in the wash.
With a lot of clothes, the worst damage you put your clothing through doesn't come from daily wear. It's actually the time your clothes spend in a washing machine that hurt the fabric most. The parts of your clothes that face the outside of the washer are what will absorb the brunt of the damage.
To make sure that your clothes don't fade prematurely, make it a point to turn them inside-out. In some cases, this can also prevent dyed clothes, like dark denim, from having their dyes run. You'd be surprised at how much this can extend the life of the clothing you like to wear.
Don't skimp on coat hangers.
You know how every single yard sale seems to involve a rack of clothing placed on cheap wire coat hangers? The wire hangers don't just make your clothes look cheap; they actually hurt them, providing too little support to be of any true good.
Wooden coat hangers are thicker, help protect clothing from stretching out, and also tend to look fancier in your closet. To give those wooden hangers a little extra cling, put two rubber bands around the hanger. The rubber will grip your clothes and keep them from slipping.
If you want to double the space of your closet, use a soda can tab placed on the hanger hook to hang a second hanger. This method of organizing your clothes works exceptionally well for keeping outfits that go together right where you need them.
Avoid drying clothes in a machine dryer.
Dryers are a modern marvel, a wonderful tool that makes the entire laundry ordeal easier to deal with. However, that doesn't mean it's great for your clothes. That heat can mess up fibers faster than anything else—especially if you add a bunch of dryer sheets or laundry balls.
Hanging your clothes out to dry is better for the environment and your garments. Heck, even spinning them in a salad spinner is a better option than a dryer. Please avoid it unless absolutely necessary.
Raise your middle finger to ironing with this one-two punch.
Ironing sucks, but you gotta do it, right? Well, not quite. You don't have to really iron most items. There's a quick hack that can extend the life of your clothes, while also keeping them super crisp.
If the other lifehacks to remove wrinkles without an iron aren't doing you any good, getting a clothing steamer will release wrinkles instantly without the potential burn marks irons can sometimes leave on clothing. When you absolutely have to get your cuffs and collars straightened up, just use a hair straightener to do the trick.
This cuts what would normally be your ironing time in half, and helps you avoid the damage that your clothing suffers from heat ironing causes.
Store your clothes well long term.
All of your clothing cost a lot of money, so why aren't you treating it well? Before you store away gear for the winter, make sure to prep them for the long haul. Clean them so the bacteria they have on them won't fester. Get garment bags to prevent them from being eaten by moths.
Oh, and if you're not hanging your clothes, fold them with care. Storage matters, especially if you're trying to extend the life of clothing over a longer period of time.