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Make Your Clothes Last Longer

Make Your Clothes Last Longer

There are things that we do every day that we don't realize are really hard on our clothes and actually take some life out of them.

You can help your clothes last a lot longer by just doing a few simple things. For starters, sorting. Your mom may have taught you to separate your clothes by color, but that's not all you need to watch for.

"You want to separate your clothes by fabric. If you have a delicate fabric, like a silk or a satin or even a stretch lace, you put that with towels or jeans or something that has a lot of buttons or hooks. The texture of the fabrics will rub together and they will actually bruise. So if you put the rougher fabric together with the softer fabric not only will it take the color out but it also affects the shininess and sheen," said image consultant Stacy Harris.

"When you are doing your laundry you really need to turn all your items inside out before you put it in the wash. The reason you want to do that is because of buttons and zippers and hooks and all these things that we have on our clothing, Those things can catch on each other, putting a hole or pulling something else that's in the laundry," said Harris.

Harris says recommends only using cold water to wash your clothes.

"Cold water, it's not going to shrink your clothes, it's not going to fade your clothes. There's really no reason to wash your clothes in hot water these days, because we have great washers. They have all these cycles. Your clothes are going to get clean in cold water," said Harris, "You are really going to see a difference in the way your clothes come out. Color is going to stay longer; texture is going to be better."

One clothes killer is using too much detergent.

"Most of us can use about a half or even a quarter of the amount of detergent that we actually use," said Harris, "A detergent is made to clean, it's made to eat away dirt and stains and things like that. When the detergent doesn't get all the way washed out when we put too much in our laundry. It stays in our clothes, it dulls our fabric, and it eats away at our clothing that takes away from the life of the fabric as well."

And, when you dry your clothing, Stacy recommends using the low setting, and stop it early.

"You don't need to dry your clothes until they are crispy. You want to take them out a little bit before they are completely dry and hang them up. That will get the wrinkles out. Also, you are going to avoid shrinking. If you over dry then you are going to shrink your jeans, your t-shirts, your sweaters all of those things," said Harris.

And, something you should never dry -- your delicates.

"Those things are just not meant to be put in the dryer. Those things break down easily and wear out very, very quickly, if you put them in the dryer. When you wash them, you want to be sure to use a mesh bag for delicates. Wash those items in the mesh bag and just lay them out to dry."

The way you hang your clothing could also be doing damage to your clothes.

"Wire hangers are a no, no," said Harris, "I know it's tempting to use them because you get them free from the dry cleaners. In the long run you are going to regret it because they wear on your clothing. The wire is so thin, it rubs on the shoulders, it tends to put wear spots on your shoulders on your shirt. Wire hangers just don't give your clothing a nice shape. You are much better off to go with a fabric hanger, or like a plastic molded hanger."

"One way that you can extend the life of your sweaters - is to decide if you need to hang or fold a sweater and the best way to determine that is to figure out if it should be hung or folded. Hold your sweater up by the shoulder. If you can feel the weight of the sweater pulling at the bottom. For example, this sweater has pockets at the bottom so it is heavier, I can feel it pulling. So this is a sweater that needs to be folded. If I hang it, the bottom is going to pull and it's going to stretch out."

And garment bags are not just protecting the clothing inside the bag.

"Another reason you want to protect the clothing is you are protecting the other clothing in your closet. If you have an evening gown or jacket that has a lot of sequins on it for example, and you hang that next to your cashmere sweater, those sequins can get hooked on your cashmere sweater and cause a pull in your sweater," said Harris.

She also recommends sweater shavers.

"The sweater shavers that are out there are a really great way to extend the life of your sweater and you can either get a season maybe two seasons more out of it. You can take a sweater shaver run it across the surface of the sweater. It's going to pull those pills off and it's going to look like a brand new sweater."

And the fastest way for a piece of clothing to become useless -- losing a button.

"For your shirts and your jackets that have buttons, most of them these days come with the little packet that gives you the extra buttons. Hang on to that," said Harris, "Save those buttons, keep them in a container and keep them organized, then when you lose that really beautiful button from a jacket. You have that extra button and you know exactly where it is, you can put it on and it's an easy fix."

Other tips from Stacy:

At the end of a long day, it can be very tempting to just leave your clothes draped across the chair or laying on the floor. Don't do this! Take care of your clothes and hang them up if they can be re-worn or put them in the laundry!

Have separate bins for laundry and dry cleaning. As soon as you take off your clothes, put them in the appropriate bin. Dry clean your clothing as little as possible. Due to the chemicals used when dry cleaning; it is very harsh on your clothes.

Before washing, look for stains and treat them with a stain stick or spray. Handy tip--keep a stain removal pen or wipe with you at all times. That way, in case of an accident, you can quickly treat the stain and keep it from setting in the fabric.

Before you get rid of an item in your closet look at carefully and decide if alterations could give it new life. For example -- if your pants have shrunk in length, could they be made into Capri pants or shorts? Could changing the buttons on a coat or jacket or removing shoulder pads update your jacket and make it on trend again? If your long sleeves have gotten too short, could you make the sleeve a 3/4 or elbow length? If you have lost weight or gained weight, could a simply letting out or taking in make it fit again?

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