11 Ways to Make Clothes Last Longer

Minimize stains and get smart about laundry to double the life expectancy of your favorite outfits.


The average family spends just under $2,000 per year on clothes. Considering that the average household throws away around 68 pounds of clothes and textiles each year, one of the easiest ways to save money on clothes is to not have to buy new clothes on a regular basis. But how can you make sure your clothes last as long as possible? Here are eight ways to make your clothes last longer. 

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Launder Smart

Always separate your colors when you wash and be sure to use cold water. Air-dry delicate clothing items and use mesh bags to protect your delicates in the wash. Make sure all your jackets and jeans are zipped prior to throwing them in the wash and be sure to fasten your bras so the hooks don’t catch on anything. Also, try to launder less by taking advantage of lint rollers and spot removing pens.

Store Clothes Appropriately

After you do your laundry, make sure you put your clothes away properly. This means fold the clothes that are meant to be folded and hang the clothes that are meant to be hung. Also, when dealing with seasonal clothes, be sure to store clothes in a manner that doesn’t allow bugs or moisture to wreak havoc on them. (See also: How to Update Your Wardrobe on a Budget)

Attack Stains Immediately

Don’t let stains sit. The longer they sit, the harder it is to get them out. Also, blot stains as opposed to rubbing them. Rubbing stains will destroy the fibers in your clothes, making it so the clothes don’t last as long.

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Dress Accordingly

If you are going for a run, wear running clothes. If you are cleaning or working outside, wear clothes that are old and you can get dirty. Dress according to the situation you will be in.

Beware of Colors

If you are going to eat a potentially messy meal or know you are klutzy and consequently have a high chance of spilling your morning coffee all over your pants, opt for clothes that are darker in color or match the color of the potential spill. Dark colors are great at hiding stains.

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Hang onto Buttons

Have a jar in your house specifically for the buttons that come with your clothes. That way, if your favorite sweater or blouse loses a button, you can easily fix the problem instead of retiring that item of clothing

Fix Quickly

If an article of clothing gets a hole or the hem starts to come undone, fix it immediately before the problem gets worse. By immediately fixing any issues with your clothes, they will last longer.

Be Smart About Clothes and Product Use

Opt to use hairspray and perfume prior to putting on your clothes. Getting these products on your clothes can stain your clothes, consequently taking the color out of your clothes. Be wary of deodorant since deodorant can cause staining as well. Wipe off any excess deodorant prior to putting on a shirt. Also, be careful with makeup and clothes. If you are clumsy and run the risk of spilling your makeup when applying it, consider putting makeup on before you put on your clothes. Or if you are putting on a shirt that requires you to pull it over your head, consider putting makeup on last and being very careful when applying it.

Watch Out for “Damagers”

Be careful around any objects that may cause damage to your clothes. These can include plants with thorns, exposed nails, and other surfaces that are rough or may snag your clothes. Try to steer clear of these potential “damagers” so that they don’t wreak havoc on your clothes.

Read the Instructions

Different fabrics and materials need different types of care. Always read the washing and care instructions on your clothes so you know how to best clean and iron them. If you purchased clothing online, make sure to bookmark the product page so you can return later to read the care instructions.

Use Scissors to Remove Tags

Most of the time it’s easier and faster to just rip the tags off new clothes. This strategy is not always a good one when it comes to maintaining the lifespan of your clothes. Take the time to find a pair of scissors when removing the price tags (and any other tags) off your clothes.

Ashley Jacobs is a college finance columnist for personal finance blog Wise Bread. Follow her latest tweets on @WiseBread.