I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago about how to find quality clothes secondhand and new. Once you find those clothes, you want to make sure that you're taking good care of them so they last.
Maintaining and repairing your belongings is a huge part of living a zero waste lifestyle. You want to try and keep your belongings as long as possible to reduce the demand for more resources.
It's another reason why it's so important to buy things that you absolutely LOVE. When you love the clothing you own, you're so much more likely to take care of it.
1. give the dryer a break:
The dryer is so rough on your clothing. Tumble dryers cause tiny micro-tears which really diminish the longevity of you clothing.
"To examine dryer impact on microscopic tears, researchers took hemmed cotton towels, rinsed them in a washing machine, and then tumble-dried them at high heat (150°F) and without heat. The study ran towels through 20 wet/dry cycles, measuring the tensile strength after each run. If a fabric is strong, it's in good condition.
The test results were alarming. After only 20 cycles of washing and drying, the fabric had lost about 50 percent of its tensile strength. Let's say that again: Drying fabric at 150°F only twenty times makes it twice as easy to tear.
But are your clothes safe when dried without heat? It turns out that tumble-drying without heat only results in a 24% loss, only half as bad as the hot cycles. However, it's clear that tumble-drying on low is no guarantee for longevity.
To make matters worse, the tensile strength doesn’t seem to ever level out over time, so every laundry cycle pushes your clothes toward obliteration. As we saw with shrinkage, the mechanical tumbling action is the a main cause of fabric wear." Source
2. invest in a lingerie bag:
Even the washer can be a little rough on your clothing. You should definitely invest in a lingerie bag*. I use ming for all my delicates, not just undies.
Hand washing your delicates is another way to extend the life of your clothing. I often hand wash bras, silk, and cashmere sweaters. If you're in a rush, you can always take the pieces with you into the shower or tub!
Related Post: Zero Waste, All Natural Bleach
Be careful when you wring your clothes out. You don't want to cause any uneccessary breakage. I like to press the water out gently, and then lay them flat to dry on a drying rack.
If you'd like to run your undies through a spin cycle, you can always air them out in your salad spinner.
3. stretch washes:
A great way to save water and maintain the quality of your clothes is to stretch washes. You don't need to wash a piece of clothing after every time you wear it - especially jeans!
I'm pretty sure I've worn jeans for three weeks without washing them. I don't wash clothes until they're stinky and dirty.
In order to prevent my clothes from becoming stinky, I let them air out. You can hang your clothes and give them a little bit of space to breathe before placing them in a drawer or in the closet. I also spray them with this febreze mix.
Try and stay on top of little repairs, and perform preventative maintenance. I'm a huge loafer fan, but I am so hard on my shoes.
I think it's because I subconsciously tap dance and just rip my soles to shreds. I will go to the cobbler and get an additional sole placed on the bottom of the shoes. This makes sure that my original sole stays in tact allowing my shoes to last much longer.
- I try to catch catch holes when they're small.
- I snip small pills off my sweaters when they start to show.
- I try to catch stains immediately.
- I try to reinforce buttons before they fall off.
Doing these four things, will help your clothing last so much longer. It only takes a few minutes to perform these small tasks and they'll prevent longer more intense repairs down the line.
5. grab a needle:
Learning to make small repairs will save you a ton of money! Even paying a seamstress to do them will still save you money if you don't have to buy more pieces.
The skills that have proven to be the most beneficial for me is learning to stitch a hem, sewing on buttons, and stitching up small holes.
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