Wow! These clothes look brand new!" "This looks like this has never been worn!" "Are you sure this is used?" These are some of the comments I've gotten about our secondhand clothing collection. It gives me great pride to know that my customers are getting excellent like-new clothing that's actually secondhand, but sadly I can't take all the credit. Because the truth of the matter is that they probably are nearly new, they probably haven't been worn but once or twice.
We as Americans have a nasty habit of buying too many clothes that we don't love, not wearing them, and then tossing them aside.
In addition to the actual clothes making process, this is what makes the apparel industry the second most polluting in the world today.
As a secondhand clothing buyer I've seen a lot of tossed clothing, overwhelming amounts actually. To find the very best stuff, I sort through tens of thousands of textiles that are too worn, torn, stained, and have lost their shape. These pieces are cheaply made and worn and washed too harshly. Some of these pieces are only but a season or two old, while others only a few years. The life of a piece of clothing is getting shorter and shorter. And the results are truly piling up, in our homes, our thrift stores, and our landfills.
There's a lot that you and I can do as consumers. I'm here to present a solution that will save the clothes you already have and love!
Launder your clothes differently. Many of the clothes and textiles that I encounter haven't been worn so harshly, but washed within an inch of their life. While I’m definitely not a laundry guru by any means, I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve.
Here's 5 Laundry Habits to Make Your Favorite Clothes Last Longer
1) Wash less often.
Many of us are actually just simply over washing. Check your fabric content tag, natural fibers like 100% cotton or wool are breathable fibers. This means if you hang up your 100% cotton sweater and let her air out between wears, she'll breathe and some odors will dissipate. If your item is polyester, those fibers won't breathe so the only way to remove them is with washing. Jeans that still appear clean should only be washed two or three times a month, or once for every 10 wears.
2) Use less soap.
Use less soap to make your clothing last longer and get cleaner. I know this seems counterintuitive. When you oversaturate your laundry tub with soap, the clothing fibers become bogged down with extra detergent that actually trap odors and weighs heavily on the fibers. Many new HE "High Efficiency" washers are designed and equipped to wash with about half of the recommended amount of laundry detergent.
3) Use cold water.
This tip pulls double duty. Not only does it save your clothes, it'll also save you money on your energy bill! Cold water helps reduce color bleeding and helps even the most delicate fabrics retain their shape. The only times you should use hot water is when treating a specific stain or disinfecting fabrics (example: washing linens after someone's been sick). If you're worried about wrinkles, read on to tip number four.
4) Lose the iron, adopt a steamer.
Fabric steamers have been the secret weapon of department stores and fashionistas for years. We at The Lemonade Boutique are pretty fond of our hard working steamer. Here's the perk of steamers: they not only remove wrinkles really quickly, but they also disinfect and kill bacteria. Odors are caused by bacteria, so steaming it will kill the odor causing bacteria, allowing you to wash your clothing less often. There's tip #1 again!
5) Skip the dryer.
Most clothes receive the brunt of their damage in the dryer, not the washer. Here's three things we never put in the dryer: jeans, intimates, and sweaters. I've seen way too many otherwise wonderful jeans stretched out from the dryer. Instead of tossing in the dryer, hang your jeans with a pants hanger upside down by the cuff--yes really! Upside down hanging puts the heaviest part of the jeans (the waist) on the bottom, allowing gravity to do the work of keeping wrinkles at bay. Intimates (bras specifically) do double damage in the dryer. Not only are you cutting their life span down to nearly nothing, those pesky little hooks can do some major infliction in the dryer. They puncture holes in the most delicate fabrics. Instead, hang your bras up by their band on a pants hanger or a drying rack. Sweaters: you know you shouldn't put your sweaters in the dryer, but it's so much easier, right? Well that maybe, but the risk is too great. Your favorite sweater not only runs the risk of shrinking, but it also can lose it's plush texture and shape. No one wants shapeless and rough sweaters! Simply pull them out and lay them flat over a drying rack. Don't have a drying rack? No problem, lay them over two layers of plush towels. Flip over the sweater half way (about 8 hours) for faster drying.
Clearly, this isn’t a be-all end-all guide to laundering, but hopefully it gave you a few applicable tips you can do to love your clothing a little bit longer.
You are the greatest factor in textile waste. Little steps can make a big difference. So here’s to buying quality clothes we love, and only the clothes we love; wearing them well, and giving them tender loving care to make them last as long as possible.
What’s your favorite laundry hack?
This is our blog: where we bring you behind the scenes of The Lemonade Boutique and offer content that's inspiring and thought provoking.
Hi, my name is Christine! I'm the voice behind the blog and the boss behind the business. If you'd like a glimpse into my personal life as entrepreneur and business owner, you can find me on Instagram as @girlwhomakeslemonade
Views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the blog posts presented here belong solely to the author and do not necessarily represent the views, thoughts, and opinions of The Lemonade Boutique LLC or its affiliates.
Any advice, recommendations, or suggestions presented should be used with caution and at your own risk. When in doubt, please consult a professional. The Lemonade Boutique LLC will not be held liable for action taken on any advice, recommendations, or suggestions given.