How to Make Your Clothes Last Longer

From Juliette Donatelli:

Clothes that last for a good long time mean less wear and tear on the environment and serious budget savings. Taking care of good-quality clothes from responsible manufacturers means that you will be able to get maximum value from them over time and use much less energy for washing and drying. Whether its a new dress you want to keep forever, or your vintage or special pieces, the laundry ideas below are key. When it comes to fashion, one of the smartest moves—for your style and your impact—is making it last. Here’s how. 

1. Cold treatment

2. Hanging ‘em out

3. The handy job

4. Freeze your jeans

Yes, that’s right—freeze those baby blues because in this case, washing is optional. Some denim experts say it’s the only way to go with a great pair of jeans (that is if you aren’t using them as work-jeans). How to? Fold the jeans nicely, place them in a gallon-sized ziplock bag (or paper bag will work too) and leave them in the freezer for about a week. The freezing temperature kills off any bacteria or living microbes on the jeans (which is what can make them smell). Defrost, hang out in the sun, and voila, fresh jeans! And no washing means you can keep them perfectly broken in.

5. Vodka spray

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  • Phil Miller

    The freezing temperature kills off any bacteria or living microbes on
    the jeans (which is what can make them smell). Defrost, hang out in the
    sun, and voila, fresh jeans!

    Freezing generally doesn’t kill bacteria… It may kill some, but for many it just slows their rate of growth. There probably aren’t a whole lot of bacteria living on your jeans anyway.

    But I’m not really concerned if people want to freeze their jeans or not. I’m more concerned that people read a statement like the one above and get the idea that freezing food will kill foodborne pathogens. It will not.

  • Susan_G1

    Science… so misunderstood. Remember the recent foodborne illness caused by frozen berries?

    To be fair, slow freezing does kill off some pathogens through evaporation (lose the plastic bag) and ice crystal formation. But pathogens aren’t why we usually wash our clothes (except for dishcloths, underwear, etc.).

    We wash our clothes because they become dirty. Soiled. Stinky. Dirt, odors, etc., are molecules in/on the fabric that have a lipophilic component. Soaps and detergents make lipophilic molecules hydrophilic, therefore coming off the fabric in water. Brushing clothes and airing them out will help to some degree, not at all to another.

    Maybe this particular not-yet-myth comes from the fact that freezing flour/grains will kill weevil eggs?

  • Yes, reading the whole post makes it seem that the author is a bit of a germophobe who sees cleaning largely as a way to remove germs. None of the suggestions seem to be based on any evidence so I wonder about the usefulness of the whole article. Do dryers really shorten the lifetime of clothes, and does vodka really prolong it?

  • Susan_G1

    That’s another misunderstanding. Clothes that are washed get roughed up. The dryer simply collects the loosened bits as lint. It’s not tumbling in the dryer that wears down clothes.

    Try tumbling clean, dried clothes for an extra cycle after removing the lint. No new lint.

    Do you have an opinion on why people are so willing to ignore incorporating what they’ve read, heard, and experienced into a cohesive whole? It seems people will believe almost anything they see on the Internet.

  • “Do you have an opinion…”

    It’s something that fascinates me but I don’t think there are easy answers. I’ve learned a lot from Kathryn Schulz’s Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error, and Farhad Manjoo’s True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society The issue is more than just believing what’s on the Internet, going all the way to how and why we believe anything at all and why we’re so slow to change beliefs. But yes, why are we so quick to pick up random, new beliefs like that spraying clothes with vodka will prolong their lives? Don’t know.

  • Sally

    The problem is that jeans stretch out so much that if you don’t wash them, sometimes they are 1-2 sizes too big. Have to wash them to shrink them back.

  • Susan_G1

    thanks for the very thoughtful recommendations (Looked at them on amazon and they look very interesting)! I am clueless; maybe these will help. (“Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error” is a wonderful title. 🙂 )