8 Ways to Make Your Clothes Last Longer To Practice a Sustainable Lifestyle

Minimal capsule wardrobe hanging on a rack
Before I heard about the devastating Rana Plaza building collapse and watched The True Cost documentary, I bought a lot of fast fashion, just so I could keep up with the trends. Despite them being cheap to purchase, they were costly in other ways. There are so many problems with fast fashion clothing that go beyond carrying the weight of the garment industry’s unethical practices that are being exposed on the daily, thanks to social media. We have to think, is it really worth buying a shirt for the price of a coffee, if it’s going to fall apart in less than a year? Am I okay living with the knowledge that the worker behind the shirt was NOT paid fair wages, and probably made that shirt in an unethical work environment?
Now that I’ve been buying better quality clothing that I know will last longer, I feel good. It really is a great feeling to be able to invest in sustainable fashion pieces that will last many seasons, that are comfy and that really are timeless. The best outcome, though, is knowing the clothes I purchase are better for the planet.
We’re definitely with you when it comes to making clothes last longer though. It’s an awful experience watching your fave shirt slowly wear and tear over time, but it’s even more awful to experience landfills piling up annually with 10 million tonnes of North American textiles where 95% of them could be reused or recycled.

Below are 8 simple almost-effortless ways to make your clothes last longer and continue to help protect the environment.

1. Buy Quality Clothes 

Cheap clothes are still costly in other ways. It’s so much better for you, the workers and the environment if the clothes in your closet were high quality sustainable clothes. That means investing more in your wardrobe and maybe even looking into the concept of a capsule wardrobe. We chatted with Verena Erin a few weeks ago who is an absolute expert when it comes to capsule wardrobes. She gave us beginner tips for mastering the art of the capsule wardrobe, which is a great place to build a minimal and curated closet. It goes without saying that higher quality clothes are often made from higher quality materials, which usually last longer.
Capsule Wardrobe Neutral Tones on Clothing Rack

2. Wash Your Clothes Less

Okay, so with this tip, we’re not talking about you wearing the same tee for weeks on end and being beyond smelly. What we’re actually saying is try to wear clothes at least 3 times before washing them. By washing your clothes less frequently, they spend less time tumbling and stretching in the wash, which means more time for you to spend with your clothes!
Woman holding laundry basket

3. Hand Wash Your Clothes

Instead of waiting for a full load of laundry to throw in the wash, try to schedule a few days a week to hand wash your clothes. This is especially beneficial for clothes made from delicate fabrics such as swimwear, sportswear, knitwear, raw denim, and delicates. Handwashing prevents the rubbing of all different materials in the washing machine, which can lead to faster damage and fading.

Another tip when hand washing is to do it in cold water which can prevent fading and shrinkage. Overall, hand washing your clothes can help preserve the garments and it is also an inexpensive alternative to the washing machines (plus better for the environment!). Oh and make sure to read the washing instruction labels sewn into your clothes! Always follow those instructions to keep the integrity of your clothes.
The Good Tee Clothing Washing Instructions and Care Label

This is what a Good Tee label looks like. Thorough instructions to ensure your clothes last as long as possible. :)

4. Use Environmentally-Friendly Laundry Detergent 

Ditch the chemical-filled detergent for a much gentler, natural detergent. Eco-friendly detergents are much gentler on fabrics and prevent fading and tearing of the material on your favorite clothes. It is also a lot more gentle on the skin than conventional products as well.

Woman using eco-friendly detergent for washing machine

5. Let Your Clothes Air Dry 

This one totally depends on where you live, but here in Canada, I can hang my clothes to air dry in the sun all summer long, sometimes into the Fall even! The sun can do such a great job on drying your clothes rather than using energy-consuming dryers (which are notorious for overheating and shrinking our clothes). This is a great way to dry intimate apparel and activewear which are known to lose their elasticity when in contact with excessive heat. And no one wants their favorite pieces to become overstretched!

Clothing drying on a clothesline

6. Fold Heavy Sweaters and Store Them on the Shelf 

This was something I wish I knew sooner. Having a huge collection of heavy sweaters that constantly break my nice hangers, I decided to fold and store them on the shelf in my closet. And from that day onward, we said goodbye to overstretched materials, broken hangers and fraying of really nice knit sweaters.

Knit sweaters on top of each other

7. Wash Your Clothes Inside Out

To reduce fading and preserve prints from cracking, turn your clothes inside out before throwing them in the wash. It’s definitely tedious, we know, to turn them back out after they’re dried, but it will help your beloved shirts with designs on them last longer.

Woman flipping shirt inside out for washing

8. Learn to Repair Your Clothes 

A little bit of knowledge on using a thread and needle can go a long way. If a button falls off or there’s a small tear, you’ll be able to fix it all up and not have to throw the entire garment away! Learning to sew can help contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle and you’ll be able to hold on to your clothes for years to come.

thread, scissors, ruler and sewing apparatuses

With these 8 tips in your sustainable living toolbelt, you’ll be ready to hold onto your clothes for way longer than you ever thought you could. Have another method for making your clothes last longer that I have missed? Let us know in the comments below!

Leena Patel Social Media Intern at The Good Tee

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