Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Laundering Correctly Saves a Wardrobe

Clothing is a basic need that even the most minimalistic person cannot deny. Even for those unaccustomed to recreational shopping, the average person spends a hefty sum on maintaining a wardrobe. While money spent on clothing is an unavoidable expense, I've put together some tips to lengthen the life of your clothing so you can at least stretch the time between shopping excursions. 
This post is Part 2 in my Cutting Clothing Costs series.

Launder Clothes Properly

On an itchy tag inside most garments, is a message full of hidden meaning. Most clothing tags have esoteric symbols; understanding the meaning of these and following the proper laundering instructions for your clothing will lengthen the life of your clothing drastically. Head over to this site to understand what the different laundry symbols mean, then read on to see how laundering correctly (or even going beyond what the tag requires) will help your clothing last longer.

Proper Washing Saves Your Clothing.

  • Regular Wash. Wash on cold. If your clothing doesn't require specialized care, stick it in the machine, ideally on cold.  Doing cold washes allows you to launder whites, lights, and darks together without fear of the colors running. By combining colors, you're able to have full loads more frequently; you don't waste utilities on running partial loads. Cold washes also save the cost of heating the water. Cold water is easier on the clothing, causing less wear and tear, thus lengthening the life of your clothes.
  • Delicate Cycle. Just wash by hand. You're not likely to have a full load of delicates, and partial loads are wasted money. If the label is calling for a delicate cycle, it means that your garment is fragile and it behooves you to be extra careful with it; hand washing is more gentle on clothes than even a delicate cycle. Hand wash with cold water.
  • Dry Clean Only. Wash these by hand unless they're lined suits or jackets. Hand washing is easier on the clothes than the harsh chemicals used in dry cleaning, and is much more reasonable financially.

    Dry Clothes Correctly

    Avoid using a dryer. Dryers put a lot of wear and tear on clothing and damage most types. Especially do not stick anything delicate in the dryer, like lacy negligees, bras, slips, or stockings. You've decreased their life by 75% by doing just that. If you cannot line dry anything else, at least line dry the aforementioned expensive undergarments, as these aren't usually bought second hand, so you'll want to make them last as long as you can. (Soon there will be an entire post dedicated to getting the most money out of your undergarments.)

    Beware of Fading. Be aware that the same property that helps the sun remove stains from clothes will also result in your clothes fading if left long enough in the sun. I don't mind my clothes fading so I don't always take all these precautions, but if you would like your colors to remain vibrant, keep these points in mind.

    • Dry in Shade. Drying will take a little longer, but you'll be saving those clothes.
    • Dry Overnight. This results in softer clothes to boot.
    • Don't Dry Too Long. Bring clothes inside as soon as they're dry.
    • Hang Inside Out. The inside of your clothes might fade, but the outside will stay color true.
    • Line Dry Inside. This takes the longest and adds dampness to the air, but is a viable alternative when there is no available hanging space in the shade.
    By following these tips for washing and drying, you'll ensure that you aren't damaging your clothes accidentally by improper laundering, and making sure that your clothes will stick around a very long time.

    Tune in to the next edition of my Cutting Clothes Costs series next Thursday, when we'll be talking about how you can lengthen your clothes' lives by using a needle and thread.
    Posts in this Series
    Fight Stains to Reduce Clothing Costs.
    Laundering Correctly Saves a Wardrobe.
    Sew to Save Your Clothes
    Forget Ironing (Coming Soon).

    What are your laundry tips to lengthen the life of your clothes?

    This post is part of the Penny Pinching Party and Works for Me Wednesday


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