10 Laundry Tips to Make Your Clothes Last Longer

Cream colored dress, brown long sleeved shirt and folded jeans hanging on wooden hangers

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

Clothes cost a lot of money and you want them to last as long as possible. P&G commissioned research for Downy that revealed that while 39 percent of people planned to wear their most recently purchased item of clothing more than 30 times, in reality more than 40 percent throw away the item after fewer than 10 wears.

It seems that our methods of care are what's cutting that intended wear time short. Almost 70 percent of people polled stated the main reason they get rid of clothes is because the garment lost its shape, faded, or started to look old. 

To protect your investment, here are some tips to help you prevent laundry mistakes that will send your clothes from the closet to the rag bag.

  • 01 of 10

    Carry a Stain Removal Pen or Wipe

    Stain removal pen on fabric bag with mobile phone and earbuds poking out

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    The first rule in treating stains is to do so as quickly as possible. Stain removal pens and wipes are the latest innovations in stain removal convenience. Follow the instructions carefully and be sure to follow-up when you get home. The pens are great, but they are not magic—you still need to launder the garment to prevent damage.

  • 02 of 10

    Inspect, Treat, and Reinspect Stains

    Stain removal bottle on folded jeans with wet stain marks

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Stains happen, and every garment should be checked for stains that may need additional treatment before it is washed. If you don't have time to treat the stain promptly, mark the spot with a clothespin or huge safety pin so you'll remember to treat it before washing.

    For specific stain removal information, check Laundry Stains A to Z for step-by-step instructions. And, don't forget to recheck the stained area after washing. If it is not gone, repeat the treatment. The stain will be much harder to remove if it is dried at high heat.

  • 03 of 10

    Read Fabric Care Labels

    Care labels on gray long sleeved shirt being shown

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Unless you are a well-experienced laundry expert, you must read the care labels in clothing. If it says wash in cold water, then believe it. If the label says dry clean only, believe it—especially if the item is new.

    As you gain experience, you will learn that some items labeled hand-wash can be placed in the washer on a gentle cycle. Or, some unstructured garments like sweaters or knit garments can be hand-washed rather than dry cleaned.

    However, if in doubt, follow the care label or ask an expert.

  • 04 of 10

    Always Sort Laundry

    Laundry separated by colors in laundry bags

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    When you throw your clothes into a washer, they essentially dance with each other as they move around. Would you want your lacy, nylon blouse dancing close to a jagged metal zipper on a hooded jacket? Probably not.

    Another benefit of sorting laundry correctly is that when it is time to use the dryer, one type of fabric will not be "cooked" while others are still quite damp when you select the correct drying temperature.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Button Up and Zip It

    Jeans zipped up to prevent snagging clothes

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    If you're buttoning, zipping or closing your garments, they will be less likely to snag another fabric or even snap themselves. You don't want to find clothes hooked to each other.

    Your clothing will also last longer if after you've buttoned them up, you turn them inside out. This will prevent wear and tear on the outer finish, help prevent pilling and limit color fading.

    When your clothes are clean, be sure you are using the correct type of hanger. Thin, wire hangers can cause stretch marks on shoulders or even misshape clothes by allowing stretching. Remember always to fold knitted items rather than hang to prevent stretching.

  • 06 of 10

    Use a Mesh Bag for Delicates

    Mesh laundry bag with delicate underwear and clothing

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    A mesh laundry bag can be your best friend for protecting delicate garments like lingerie when you wash them. It is also wonderful for socks and baby items that are so small they seem to disappear. Put all the little pieces in one bag, and you'll always find them and their matching pairs.

  • 07 of 10

    Go Easy with Detergent & Fabric Conditioner

    Laundry bottle next to cap full of detergent on washing machine

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Almost everyone is guilty of using too much laundry detergent or fabric softener in a load. More detergent does not always equal more cleaning. The extra detergent settles back on the clothing and leaves the finish dull and stiff.

    Begin by using half of the usual amount of detergent and 1/2 cup baking soda as a detergent booster. You will be amazed that your laundry comes out just as clean and you'll be saving money. If you are not pleased, add a bit more detergent the next time.

    Commercial fabric conditioners or softeners like Downy can help clothes last longer. They work by coating fibers with lubricants that make the fabrics feel softer to the touch. The lubricants also cause fibers to slide against each other more easily to make fabrics feel softer, reduce wear and tear, increase stain resistance, and reduce static cling. Follow the guidelines and don't overdose for the best results!

  • 08 of 10

    Don't Overload the Washer

    Washing machine overloaded with clothes

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Cramming the washer full of clothes may seem like the easy way to get more laundry done quickly, but it is harmful to your clothing. First, they don't get as clean and secondly, they rub together so much there is actual harm to the finish of your clothes.

    Learn how to load a washer properly to protect your clothing investment.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Lower the Heat

    Clothes dryer set to lower temperature

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    For certain types of fabric, hot water can cause shrinking, stretching and permanently set stains. Learn to use the correct water temperature for different types of fabric.

    Extremely high heat in the dryer can also set stains and cause damage to fabrics. Follow label instructions carefully and select the right dryer cycle to get the best results.

  • 10 of 10

    Be Careful with Bleach

    Chlorine bleach bottle on pile of white clothes and blankets

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Chlorine bleach will damage any fabric—including white cotton—if used in too high a concentration. Always dilute chlorine bleach and learn to use it safely.

    Bleach stains can occur when bleach is accidentally splashed on clothing, leftover bleach drips from an automatic dispenser, or a piece of laundry that has come in contact with bleach touches another item. Take extreme care to avoid these problems - especially if you are sharing a laundry space with others.

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  1. 'Wash It Better, Love It Longer'. Downy Lenor, Proctor & Gamble.