The other day I overheard a cashier at the clothing store I was in telling the girl in front of me to wear the jeans she was purchasing about ten times before washing them. That number caught me by surprise, and I chimed in for clarification. “Did you say ten times?”
She proceeded to tell me that I could put my jeans in the freezer to help with odor, but yes, to try not to wash them too much because they last longer the less you wash them.
That immediately had me wondering, what else in my closet am I washing too much? What other tricks are out there that would allow me to keep my clothes for longer? And what else should I be putting in the freezer?
I’m here for you Penny Pinchers, and set out to answer those questions and more for you. Here is what I found out.
10 Laundry Tips So Your Clothes Last Longer
1. Inspect and Treat Stains
This sounds obvious, but there’s nothing worse than throwing a stained shirt into the laundry, washing it and drying it, only to realize you forgot to spot treat it, and now the stain is still there just slightly faded. Treat the stain the moment it happens (or as soon as you can). Carry a Tide pen in your purse or car if you have to. And, if you have kids, maybe carry a few. If you don’t treat it immediately, mark it with a safety pin or something so you don’t forget to before tossing it in the wash.
2. Read the labels
I said there’s nothing worse than tossing a stained shirt into the washer, but there actually is, it’s shrinking a brand new pair of pants or ruining a dry-clean-only skirt because you forgot to read the label. For the love of your clothes, follow the directions on the tags to keep the size and texture of your items the same as the day you bought them.
3. Sort your colors
We’ve all lived with someone who throws all the laundry in the basket into one load. Whites, darks, lights, everything… all into one load. If that’s you, then I’m telling you to stop now. Do not wash your whites with your colors, case closed. No complaining about dingy clothes if you’re too lazy to separate.
4. Button and zip up
I’ll admit that I’m guilty of not doing this, but it’s important to button and zip up your clothes to prevent them from snagging and pulling on something during the wash or dry cycle. It’s an extra step, but worth it in the end.
5. Don’t use an excessive amount of laundry detergent
Oops! Too much detergent will actually do more harm than good. Remember: More detergent doesn’t mean the clothes will get cleaner. It just means that the detergent will end up sitting on the fabric and causing a dull, stiff finish post wash. Too much fabric softener causes bacteria to become trapped and dulls colors, too.
6. Use the correct temperature
If I could wash everything in hot water, I would. But, hot water temperatures and high heat in the dryer can cause fabrics to shrink or stretch and stains to set. So, know the temperatures to wash your loads in (your separate loads). It’s best to use the delicate cycles for loosely woven fabrics, hot water for white loads, warm water for the average load and cold water for brights.
7. Don’t overload the washer
Don’t test your washer by seeing how many items you can fit in a load. When you overload, the clothes won’t get washed and the soap won’t rinse out as well, either.
8. DIY fabric softener
Residues and fragrances in fabric softeners can aggravate allergies and leave a buildup on clothes. For a simple, clean DIY fabric softener you can make at home simply add ¼ to 1 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle. Just don’t mix it with bleach.
9. DIY laundry detergent
If you have sensitive skin or want to save money on detergent, make your own at home using ½ cup borax combined with a gentle, nontoxic soap or detergent. Borax is a natural mineral with antiseptic, antibacterial and water-softening properties.
10. Brighten your whites naturally
When your whites start to feel dingy, you can brighten them up with a few simple home solutions. Fill a pot of water with lemon slices, bring to a boil, turn off the heat and add the clothes once the water has cooled. Soak in the lemon water for an hour and then wash. ½ cup borax or white vinegar mixed into one gallon of water during the wash cycle will also do the trick!
Now that you are pumped to do the laundry (probably for the first time, well, ever) head over to Ibotta for some pretty insane deals on laundry detergent and all the other supplies you’ll need.