On average, the lifespan of an item of loathing is around 2 years. It is also estimated that over £140 million worth of clothing ends up in landfill each year. We already know that keeping our clothes for longer is one of the best ways to reduce the impact of clothing production, but this can be difficult, especially when buying cheap. If you look after quality clothing, it can add at least an extra 9 months onto the life of your garment and the emission of a piece is reduced by up to 24% by doubling the use of the piece.
It is no secret that the fashion industry carries a huge carbon footprint. From supply chains and production lines to the treatment of animals and people. There is a lot of work that needs to be done in this industry, but change happens slowly and progressively. As consumers, we can’t just completely blame the manufacturers and brands that are creating the pieces, it is our responsibility as consumers to make more conscious decisions when we are shopping for anything. Luckily, there are many options that we can do to help reduce our footprint.
There are many factors that impact the length of tie a piece of clothing lasts, but as we said, it’s up to us as consumers to do better. One way is being able to create the willpower to wear the same clothes over and over again. Other factors include the technical factors of the clothing such as more robust materials, dyes and colours. Repairing clothes is a lost art, and more people need to start doing it more often, rather than throwing things away. In this article, we will go through some top tips for caring for your clothes.
Knowing and Understanding Your Fabrics
One of the most important things you should be doing is looking at ways in which you can help to increase the life of your clothing. The main issue is that there are many combinations of fabrics on one item which makes it increasingly difficult to clean it how it should be cleaned, resulting in clothing being mistreated and tarnished before it should be. Whether it’s plant-based materials, animal-based, organic, synthetic or anything else, it needs to be treated correctly if you hope to keep the item in your wardrobe for more than 30 washes.
It is positive to see that there are now more sustainable and more durable materials being created by innovators. With the likes of organic cotton, TENCEL and Piñatex being made more accessible, more brands and manufacturers have more sustainable options to work from. Due to the shift in materials used for production, it is more important than ever to read the label before washing these new materials.
To ensure that you are making the most out of your clothing, find out what fabrics you have and learn how to care for them properly. This includes understanding the different detergents, spins, drying options and much more.
Wash At Low Temperatures
When it comes to washing your clothes, it’s best to wash at low temperatures and aim to use gentle or natural detergents that will gently clean your clothes which will result in your fabrics keeping soft and the colours fading. Heat is the destroyer of clothes and can have a serious impact on the environment. For an average shirt, the majority of the emissions are produced during the wearing stage of its lifecycle. This is from the number of times it has been washed and tumble-dried. Washing your clothes at 30° or less can significantly increase the lifespan of your clothes by protecting the fibres and reducing the energy used to wash clothes. If you have premium clothes, this should always be the case as you could risk ruining your premium hoodie that you spend a good amount on to last you.
Pay Attention To The Labels
Each material or fabric is different and they all have their own unique properties. This is why it is essential to read the label before you wash your clothes, you never know, you could actually be washing them completely wrong ad destroying the clothes faster than it would usually take if washed correctly. For example, wool is very temperamental and can be damaged super easily, especially if put under heat. For wool, you need a wool detergent and wash your clothes on a gentle cycle. Alternatively, you can clean it by hand. Other delicate fabrics such as silk or cashmere are also easy to damage, so take extra care. Reading the label on your clothes to check if there is any advice on cleaning your clothes, what is the max temperature? Etc.
Cut Down On Dry Cleaning
Many consumers will purposely avoid buying an item of clothing if it says on the label that it is “dry clean only” due to them having to make more effort when having it cleaned. The truth is with most of these delicate items, you can wash them yourself on a gentle wash at a low temperature. If the item has detail on it, it may be worth taking it to the dry cleaners as it could get damaged in the washing machine. Dry cleaning uses harsh chemicals and has a negative impact on both the environment, clothes as well as the wearer’s skin. When you have no other option than to take it to the dry cleaners, look for places that offer eco-washing or non-toxic washes.
Air Dry Your Clothing
There is nothing better than taking your clothes out to dry and having that amazing smell follow you as you bring them in once dried. Not only does it smell amazing, but it is also much better for your clothes and the environment too when compared to tumble drying. It uses a lot less energy and it reduces the amount of heat that the clothes are put under which damages the fibres of your clothes, resulting in your clothes looking stretched and colourless.
To help your clothes last longer, it is best to shake your clothes out once they have been washed and then hang them to dry. It’s always nicer hanging them on a line outside, but drying inside is the other option on a drying rack or maiden. Pay close attention to the instructions on the labels as some fabrics need to be dried flat such as wool.
Repairing your clothes is a lost art and too many items of clothes are just thrown away once it is damaged. The truth is many of the issues are easily fixable once you have learned a couple of stitches. The trick is to repair it as soon as you notice that something is damaged so you can prevent it from getting worse. By doing this, you are not only increasing the life of your clothes, but you are also reducing the amount of clothing in landfill.
There are also items that are not damaged but could do with some TLC. An example of this could be rehydrating a leather jacket so it doesn’t crack or dry out. You could also depearl that bobbly jumper that you always wear. By doing this, it gives your clothes a new life, and because you have done something to improve their appearance, you feel great in them once more.