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Taking Care of Your Clothes: 4 Things You Need to Know

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You might not admit it, but you probably spend more on clothes than you realize. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American spends over $160 a month on clothes. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise that women, on average, spend 76 percent more than men on clothing. However, many perfectly good clothes end up in the landfill every year, and new clothes are only used for an average of 2 years before being thrown out.

The fashion industry now accounts for 10 percent of carbon emissions and now has a bigger footprint than the international airline and maritime shipping industries combined. One way to reduce the impact of fashion on our planet is to keep our clothes for longer. You can cut the emissions by half just by doubling your clothes’ life from two years to four.

The longer your clothes last, the less you have to spend on replacements. Even going to dry cleaners can help extend the life of your wardrobe. A few changes to your habits go a long way in keeping your clothes looking sharp for years to come. Here are a few tips to get you started.

  1. Go for quality over quantity

High-quality clothes can cost more than those sold in fast-fashion stores, but they certainly last longer and offer more value for money. I’m not saying that you should go for luxury brands; there are plenty of American brands that offer quality clothing at a reasonable price. When choosing clothes for your wardrobe, make it a point to choose classic pieces that will remain in style for years to come. A trendy piece might look good today, but it will quickly sour like curdled milk within a season or two.

Of course, the rules can be different if you’re buying for children. Since children grow fast, it might be more cost-effective to go for quantity rather than quality. But if you’re buying a pair of jeans or leather boots, it’s smarter to invest in a piece that will last for years than one that’s going to be tattered in months.

  1. Learn how to launder properly

Make sure to check the tag found on the side seam or neck of the clothing. That small piece of fabric will tell everything you need to know about proper care and maintenance of the piece. Some clothes require more maintenance than others, so it’s important to know which pieces have to be laundered differently.

There’s no point in buying clothes that require special maintenance if you know you can’t do it. Your money will be better spent on quality pieces that are easier to maintain. Don’t be misled by the price tag: a piece that’s been marked down could cost you more down the line if it requires dry cleaning.

Other things you can do include separating whites from colored garments. You also need separate pieces with metal buttons, zippers, and components, as they tend to become hot when put in a dryer. Finally, familiarize yourself with your washer and dryer’s different settings. Read the user manual so that you know which buttons to press when washing a certain fabric.

mother and child doing laundry

  1. Keep clean

It might sound like a no-brainer, but your hygiene can have a big effect on your wardrobe’s longevity. If you keep yourself clean by showering regularly, wearing antiperspirant, and keeping your clothes spill and stain-free, you’ll find that your clothes will last longer.

It also helps to be mindful of the clothes you’re wearing. If you know you’re going to the gym at some point in the day, a pair of jeans might not be the smartest thing to wear. Meanwhile, keep your expensive leather jacket at home if things are going to get messy.

  1. Learn how to sew

One of the best things you can do to keep your clothes in top condition is to repair them right away. If you learn basic sewing techniques, you can replace a missing button or close up a hole, preventing the damage from getting bigger.

A final word

Your clothes aren’t designed to last decades, but with these things, you can get more years out of your wardrobe. Practicing good hygiene and being more mindful of your actions can go a long way in ensuring your clothes last for as long as possible.

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