Caring for our clothing or zero-waste essentials is not rocket science—but sometimes we don’t know better and we end up being really sad when our favourite t-shirt/cloth napkin/jeans/socks/hanky turns into a rag and just can’t serve anymore!
Here are 10 tips that will make a huge difference in keeping your things looking sharp and lasting—hopefully—for as long as you wish.
1. Choose quality
This is the first—and perhaps most obvious step in the chain. If you buy quality and care for it, chances are your clothing will last longer than most items you can buy in fast fashion chains! It’s quite logic: high quality fabric doesn’t tend to fade, pille or distort…
2. Wash only when needed and with the right stuff
We tend to wear and wash—but aside from underwear—guess what—unless you’ve just hit puberty (like my teenager), you’re learning how to eat (like my 3-year-old), or you’ve just had a vigorous workout… You don’t really need to wash your clothing every day! Especially if (hey for most of us it’s a reality these days), you’re mostly working from home.
I can imagine that if you’re reading this, you care for yourself the way you aspire to care for your things, so you’re probably already purchasing eco-friendly detergent. If you aren’t yet, then I can only encourage you to keep searching for the right one—although they aren’t all efficient nor do they all smell nice—there are a few great brands out there that do a fine job and help us have less impact on our planet—and on us (because hey, we wear the washed garments!)
3. Remove stains ASAP. Like NOW!
Have you stained something? I know it’s tempting to change clothes and think about it later. But later won’t do… Sadly, it never does. If there’s one thing to take away from this article, it’s that treating stains right after they occur makes a HUGE difference. Like—a will it remain stained—difference? Don’t go crazy—in my house, we simply scrub the stain with cold water and white Marseille soap and then leave the garment to soak in water mixed with detergent. Or if laundry is already piling up, we throw it in the washing machine, on the spot. If it’s a MEAN stain (like dark, delicious tomato sauce on a white t-shirt), I’ll scrub with the Marseille soap and soak it in really hot water mixed with stain removal powder (maybe, just maybe I chant at the same time, but you’ll never know). And that works super well.
But the key is to act quickly. It truly makes all the difference.
My personal tip: since my dad passed away, I started using his apron to cook—and turns out I don’t stain nearly as many clothes as I used to!
4. Sort your laundry
I know, I know … my mom used to nag me about this too. And frankly, I did not sort laundry for the longest time. But as time flies by and I start realizing that it’s nice to hold on to the things we love (and so frustrating to have to let go of our fave items because of carelessness), I now sort my laundry (well, most of it).
So whites go with whites… And guess what, they actually stay white (amazing, huh?) And dark colours + reds, also go together. There is a grey zone when it comes to other colours—if I’m overwhelmed and they’re mostly kid stuff, they might just all go in together—and if I’m feeling rather domestic, I sometimes make rainbows with my laundry (most of you know my obsession with rainbows by now!), placing warm colours together, cooler shades together—and I swear, I almost take pleasure in it.
5. Follow the instructions
If I hadn’t written it myself, I think I would have skipped reading this tip. But you shouldn’t, so please read on! Most products come with a care label, which explains exactly how they should be washed, dried, ironed and generally cared for. Using hot water instead of cold water could make dark colours fade quickly—or it could cause unwanted shrinkage. And for some fabric blends, using the dryer could make some fibres (like nylon) melt. Certain wool blends should never even meet your dryer because they’ll become completely unwearable (ever shrunk a gorgeous cashmere sweater?) So yes, if there’s one time in your life when you should be rather docile, this is it. Follow. The. Care. Labels. Your wardrobe and eco-friendly home will thank you!
6. Oh—and the cooler, the better.
So a good tip is to wash your clothing and zero waste alternatives in cold water. When you can. As you may know—super-cold water won’t melt snot—so washing your hankies in cold water isn’t very satisfying. Here at TSHU we recommend mild to warm water. From personal experience, washing your handkerchiefs at 20 degrees is better for their longevity and for our planet, but sometimes it’s not quite warm enough to do the job. Washing them at 30 degrees will ensure that your handkerchiefs come out pristine. It kind of depends on your machine and detergent though—so feel free to test what works for you.
7. Even when it comes to drying
Cool outdoor air is THE best to dry your things. Sure, the sun has natural antibacterial properties (which is really cool!), but it also tends to fade colours. And the dryer really shortens the lifetime of your favourite items… So use it when absolutely necessary—or as a special treat! (I know, the feeling of a soft plush bath towel coming out of the dryer is super comforting… And it’s really hard to get towels to become as soft when they dry in open air!!!)
8. Caring is repairing
So other than washing your things well, consider repairing rather than trading your things for something new! Although I love sewing, I’m always amazed to see how skilled some local seamstresses are at repairing used or damages clothing. Try it, we’re pretty sure you’ll love it! What’s more, your wallet will love it too. And, of course, if you’re rather crafty, you can also DIY your mending (which I usually don’t even do—I actually really enjoy encouraging local pros and watch them work!)
9. Fold nicely
Truth be told, we HEART the Marie Kondo method. It’s been tested and adopted in our family—even by our kids who now (usually) have pretty tidy closets! Plus I can truly fulfill my rainbow obsession by placing similar colours together and it looks really nice, too.
Whichever way you decide to fold your things though—the important thing to remember is that folding your clothing and zero waste essentials in an orderly manner and storing them in a cool, dry place will ensure they last longer. You can also consider giving away everything you don’t really love and wear—because believe it or not—breathing room for your garments helps prevent wrinkling and aging.
If you live in the countryside, use lavender or Marseille soap to keep moths away—how frustrating is it to realize that your favourite sweater is full of little moth holes!!!
10. Give back or recycle
Finally, when you’re done, consider donating your used clothing and if it’s reached its end of life, you can recycle it.