Fast fashion has seen stacks of low-quality, trendy clothes cycling through stores in recent decades. The impact on the planet is huge, from piles of clothes being thrown away after just a few wears, to synthetic fabrics that contain plastic and toxic fabric dyes.
But thankfully, times are changing. More and more, there’s a movement towards buying better-quality, sustainable fashion you can wear well beyond the current season. So, what can you do to help your garments go the distance? Just follow this simple guide to making your clothes last longer, for an upgraded wardrobe that’s kind to the planet.
Choose high-quality clothes
Helping your clothes last longer starts with the items you choose. Quality clothes are more resistant to fading and won’t lose their shape after a couple of washes. Remember, a higher price doesn’t always mean higher quality.
Here’s how to tell the difference:
- Look for sustainable, natural fabrics like bamboo, recycled cotton, hemp and linen. They’ll last well with proper care, and they’re better for the environment too.
- Check for sturdy seams that don’t have gaps or look like they’ll come undone easily.
- When it comes to coats, jackets, dresses or skirts, take a look on the inside. If it’s lined, that’s a good sign it’s been well made.
- Download our checklist for conscious shopping to help you build a sustainable wardrobe you love.
Wash your clothes less often
When you put your clothes through the washing machine, they get tumbled around, twisted and rubbed against other clothes. This wears them out more quickly.
Help your clothes last longer by using the washing machine only when you need to.
Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you should wear dirty clothes. But some items won’t need washing after every wear. Garments that aren’t directly against your skin will usually stay fresh for longer – so don’t feel guilty for wearing that jumper a few times before washing.
Keep in mind that some fabrics won’t need to be washed as frequently. For instance, Lete’s clothing is made from bamboo fabric, which is breathable and draws moisture away from the skin to keep you drier when you sweat. Plus, it’s thermoregulating, meaning it keeps you warm when it's cold but cool when it’s hot, helping you sweat less. Of course, you’ll still want to clean all your clothing, but the right fabric choice can mean you need to wash it less often.
Wash and dry gently
The more gently you treat your clothes, the longer they’ll last. Luckily, there are simple things you can do to make your washing routine is as easy on your garments as possible.
Heat is harsh on fabrics and fades clothes more quickly, so keep it cool whenever you can (and you’ll save on power, too). Unless your clothes are really dirty, a cold-water wash should be enough to get them clean. And even though dryers are convenient, letting your clothes air dry Cramming your clothes in the washing machine will also make them wear out more quickly.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fill your machine, especially since full loads of washing use less water than doing several smaller loads. Just don’t pack your clothes in too tightly. Not only is it harder for an overstuffed machine to clean your clothes, the fabric will be more likely to stretch or rub against other garments, which can lead to damage and pilling.
Another way to be kind to your clothes is to use less detergent and choose gentle, eco-friendly options. Harsh detergents damage fabric over time, as well as being harder on the environment.
If the detergent is safe for the earth, it’s probably better for your clothes, too.
Stains that set will take more effort to get out (think hot water and harsher detergents). So it’s best to act quickly by soaking any stains as soon as you can. That way, your normal wash should be enough to get the fabric clean again.
Protect your clothes
Some garments will need a little extra help to stay safe in the washing machine. An easy way to prevent damage is to check that any zippers or clasps are done up before they go in the machine, so they don’t have a chance to snag other clothes.
You can also protect garments from fading or pilling by turning them inside out before you wash them. This means the underside of the clothing bears the brunt of the wash, protecting the side that’s on display when you wear it.
Finally, put any flimsy, delicate clothes in a garment bag to keep them safe while they’re tumbling around inside the machine. If you don’t have a bag that’s designed for this, try using a pillowcase to protect your delicates.
Store your garments carefully
Storing items properly helps them stay looking like new. Watch out for wire and plastic hangers, which tend to stretch the shoulders of your tops. Wooden hangers tend to be kinder to your garments, and they’ll last longer too. If the item is heavy and stretchy, like a thick jumper, folding it rather than hanging it will help ensure it stays in shape.
If you’re storing your clothes away for a season, use a moth-proof storage bag to avoid surprise holes when you bring them out to wear again. It’s also a good idea to give your garments a quick once-over before you store them away. Check for any pilling, loose buttons or fraying hems. That way, you can fix these issues now, so your clothes are ready to wear when you need them.
Long-lasting clothing doesn’t just save you money; it helps counteract the environmental problems that come with fast fashion, too. By caring for your clothes and choosing high-quality pieces that last, you’ll enjoy a wardrobe that stays looking good while being better for the earth.