The thrill of a fresh clothes shopping haul is unparalleled - returning home, bags heaving after a particularly fruitful spree or waiting patiently for the delivery of your latest online finds. A fresh fit can boost self-esteem, making you feel confident and empowered. On the other hand, it's always disappointing having to retire a beloved garment, even after years of wear. Here's how you can make the most of your favourite items by extending their life cycles.
Clothing with dark-coloured dyes can bleed in the wash, particularly when newly purchased. Avoid staining your lighter-coloured items a muddy grey by separating your loads by colour and brightness. Of course, there is always the option to bleach your stained white clothes; however, overuse of bleach can damage the fibres, so best to avoid the issue, to begin with by washing your lights separately.
There is nothing worse than a red wine or bolognese stain on your crisp white shirt. To avoid permanent stains, deal with any accidents immediately before they "set" - the term for when a substance forms a chemical bond with fabric. If you're prone to being a little messy, carry a stain removal pen whenever you go out for food and drinks.
Storing clothes in a cool, dry environment will reduce the risk of damage. Small areas prone to damp will give your clothes a musty smell due to a buildup of mould and mildew. Instead, store your garments in an area that allows air to circulate, on suitable, padded or wooden hangers that are less likely to damage the fabric.
As convenient as the dryer is, air dry your clothes when possible. Tumble dryers are not only notorious for shrinking garments, but they can also cause unnecessary wear and tear. Do your clothes, your wallet and the environment all a favour by hanging your washing on the line for that fresh, air-dried scent.
Delicate clothing describes anything made from fragile fabric such as silk, lace and satin. These items can become easily damaged in a washing machine, so to promote longevity, handwashing is advised. Alternatively, you could put them in a mesh delicates bag, and machine wash on an appropriate setting.
In terms of clothing, you often get what you pay for. Everybody loves a bargain, but price often defines quality; therefore, it is worth investing in durable, sustainable pieces made from choice fabrics. For example, when cared for correctly, a cashmere wrap will last you for years, unlike a similar piece made from synthetic materials such as acrylic and polyester.
This may seem obvious, but the best way to care for your clothes is to adhere to the manufacturer's instructions. Machine washing an item listed as "dry clean only" could dramatically shrink or distort it. Read the labels very carefully to avoid any of these unwanted laundry results. If you're unsure what the different symbols mean, guides are available online to help decode your clothes.
Reducing the temperature of your washes allows you to take better care of your fabrics. Not only is cooler water kinder to textiles, but garments retain their colour better when exposed to lower temperatures, keeping them looking fresh and vibrant for longer. Whilst washing household linens and towels at 60 degrees is vital to kill bacteria, washing at 30 or 40 degrees is sufficient for clothing and kinder to the environment.
When it comes to washing detergent, less is more. Overuse of detergent can cause your clothing to become dull and stiff due to excess residue, which may also build up in your machine, breeding bacteria and mould. Excess detergent could also exacerbate skin dryness and irritation. Use half your usual amount of detergent and add half a cup of baking soda to regulate pH levels and tackle persistent odours.
Certain knitwear items can stretch and become misshapen when hung on coat hangers. Garments made from wool, cashmere and angora are especially at risk. Avoid ruining your knitwear by folding it carefully and lying flat in a drawer or on a shelf. Add a muslin bag of dried lavender nearby for a natural moth repellent.