Save Money With Proper Clothing Care

Having a wardrobe that you love is often the result of years dedicated to shopping for, sewing, or curating pieces. Our clothes can be such a huge part of our identity and how we choose to express ourselves. It only stands to reason that clothing care should be an integral part of our day-to-day chores.


image of clothes hanging to dry for Save Money With Proper Clothing Care post

When most people think of clothing care, they are probably focusing on the laundry process. The truth is that clothing care begins well before any clothes hit the laundry. Taking good care of your clothes begins with having the proper clothes for different situations. You may love wearing jeans and have a few pairs that you love. However, if you wear these jeans every day, wash them frequently, and don’t pay attention to any stains that happen, it won’t be long before your jeans can look old and worn (and not in a good way).

Understand the role that each piece of clothing plays in your life. You wouldn’t wear an expensive dress to clean out your car, so don’t make the mistake of wearing items that you want to keep “nice” for tasks that will prematurely age them. Having an older pair of jeans or pants to wear for painting or dirtier jobs will help extend the life of your other, less work-focused clothing.


Clothing maintenance includes all of those things that help lengthen the life of every garment you own. It is all the things we know we should do that help our clothes last longer and stay newer looking. Whether you enjoy new garments every season or have a closet full of vintage mainstays, properly maintaining your clothes is essential.

Part of clothing maintenance is familiarizing yourself with different types of fabrics, textiles, and clothing construction in order to treat each item of clothing in the best way possible for its longevity. This is especially important with vintage clothing. There is no one-size-fits-all cleaning solution for every kind of clothing. The more you know about the effects of water temperature, laundry soaps, stain removers, and rinsing agents, the more effective you will be at maintaining your wardrobe.


image of clothes hanging for Save Money With Proper Clothing Care post

1. Understanding the role of different garments is the first step to caring for them. Clothing that is delicate and requires careful cleaning methods might be better maintained by only saving them for special occasions. Don’t only think about the conditions that they will be worn in, also consider your dressing routine. Don’t wear a lot of make-up, perfume, or deodorant if you don’t want their residue on your clothing.

2. When not wearing your clothes, make sure they are being properly maintained. This means mending tears or seams as soon as possible after they happen, and before they are laundered. If you don’t like to tackle sewing or know how to put on a button, find a good tailor to fix items before they are cleaned. If the item is dry-cleaning only, check to see if your dry cleaner works with a tailor or can recommend one. Don’t put all of your clothing into a hamper if it’s going to stay there for a while gathering wrinkles. You can always set aside a small section of your closet for items waiting for the laundry. Leaving them hanging will help avoid wrinkles and put less stress on the fabric.

3. Speaking of closets, part of clothing care is deciding how you will store your articles. There are basically three choices: hanging, folding, or extra care.

Hanging— Look for key factors with clothes you want to hang. Consider the kind of fabric and overall weight of the garment. Will hanging it stretch your clothes, or hurt delicate fabrics like lace or silk? Consider the proper kind of hanger to use. Most dress shirt makers will tell you to use a hanger for these shirts that do not extend beyond the shoulder seam into the sleeve. Use padded hangers for delicate items, and non-slip hangers for items with wider necklines. If the hanging space in your closet is limited, choose to hang items like suits or dresses that would wrinkle if folded. Don’t hang too many items together, which can crush fabrics and make it hard to organize your wardrobe

Folding — Many casual items do fine with folding. Sweaters will keep their shape better if folded in a drawer or see-through storage, so they don’t gather dust during warmer months. If you have to fold seasonal items for storage, consider using bunched-up white tissue paper at the folds to keep from getting a sharp crease.

Extra Care — You may have some clothing that is only worn on special occasions. To store these items, look for archival quality boxes or garment bags and acid-free tissue paper to pack them away carefully. If you can place your special items farther away from any sunlight, all the better.

4. Just because you wear an item once does not mean you have to launder the complete garment. Spot cleaning can be a time saver and will cause less stress on your clothing’s fabrics. Just be sure to read your care labels and search for gentle products. When using a new stain remover, check it on an unseen area of the garment to test how it reacts with the fabric. For stains with odors, you can freshen up the garment with a simple solution of water diluted with white vinegar. When in doubt, use cool or tepid water — avoid using hot water for spot cleaning because it can “set” many stains and make it impossible to remove them.

5. Once it's time to launder your clothing, it becomes even more important to read and follow the guidelines on your labels. Pay attention to cleaning methods, water temperature, and cycle information. Using hot water when it is not called for can cause shrinking, puckering, or pilling of your fabrics. Delicate lace garments should be hand washed or, in newer machines, might be able to wash on a gentle cycle in a mesh "delicates" laundry bag that keeps them from stretching.

6. When drying clothes, don't use a temperature hotter than needed. When in doubt, drying a garment flat may take longer, but it will add to its lifetime wear. Keep in mind that hanging clothing while they're drying will make the bottom edge heavier and pull the garment down and out of shape. If you have dry cleaning items that you feel could be washed at home, check with your dry cleaner first. 


Whether you are caring for clothing that is an investment, dear to you, or heirlooms that you want to pass on in your family, taking care of your clothes makes sense. If you purchase good quality clothing, proper care and maintenance will give you many years of wear for your investment. Most people consider garments from special occasions for family heirlooms, but the truth is that everyday clothing can be great pieces to pass down. With a little attention, your clothes will provide you with years of enjoyment and may have a life beyond that. 


Clothes aren't made to be disposable. Even less expensive clothing can serve you for a long time if cared for properly. Clothing care is something that you can make a habit, and that investment will pay dividends for years to come.


Heloise Around the House by Heloise, copyright 1965