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Having a small and curated collection of clothes can be very rewarding however there can be concerns around laundering and maintaining your clothes in optimal condition. One of the concerns is that fewer clothes might imply more frequent loads of washing, which in turn means your clothes wearing out quicker.
When test running the capsule wardrobe concept I had some aha moments. The first one was realizing that I was only wearing around 30% of my clothes which meant I was washing certain pieces over and over anyway. Most of them were not wearing out quicker. I noticed this was dependent on the material, the quality and the care I was giving the particular item.
During my capsule “warm up” phase I picked up some tips and tricks along the way that have helped me care for my clothes to prolong their life. I hope these tips will help you address any concerns you may have about maintaining a capsule wardrobe.
1. Wear a base layer
Wearing a base layer like a t-shirt keeps your garments from touching your body directly. It creates a barrier between your garment and your skin reducing the absorption of body odor and oils. Keeping garments fresh allows you to wear them more times in between washes. A base layer can add warmth in the cooler months and can also create an opaque effect for those garments that are a little more see-through (like white blouses).
2. Wear an apron or a smock
Protect your clothes by wearing an apron or a smock when cooking, cleaning and crafting. You can avoid stubborn stains when preparing meals and sudsy water splashes while you’re doing the dishes. If you’re engaging in activities that pose a higher risk of getting clothes dirty and stained (like gardening and yard work) consider changing out of your nice clothes and shoes. It may seem obvious to some but I know people who struggle with this.
3. Remove pill fuzz
Don’t let pills or lint build up. Address them as soon as you notice them. This will keep your clothes looking good longer. There are a range of products to remove pills and lint: lint rollers, sweater combs and battery operated fabric shavers.
I use a lint roller to remove the loose stuff (hair, down feathers & lint) while I’m wearing the clothes. I also use the Gleener fuzz remover. It has a lint brush on one end and the opposite end houses an edge similar to a sweater comb to address pills. It comes with 3 different edges that can be swapped for different types of fabric. So far this is my favorite tool because it’s multi-purpose and it does a great job of removing pills without risk of cutting into the fabric.
4. Use fabric freshener
A light mist on trouble spots (i.e. under arms) can curb icky odors and freshen garments in between washes. If you are concerned about the chemicals used in store bought fresheners it’s easy to make your own.
5. Treat stains promptly
You have a better chance of removing stains if you treat them immediately. Take the extra time to address those stains as soon as they happen to preserve your clothing and help it last longer. Use cold water because it keeps stains from settling into the fibers. If that is not enough add your favorite stain fighting detergent. Always try for colorfastness first. I’ve had success using Shout Wipes (great to have when on the go), Shout Advanced gel and more recently a homemade version.
6. Wash clothes when they really need it
If clothes are not sweaty, smelly or visibly dirty then consider wearing a second time around, and maybe a third time around before you wash. This will help extend the life of your clothes.
7. Use your washer’s delicate cycle (or hand wash)
I personally do not like hand washing anything so I am very grateful for my washer’s delicate/hand wash cycle. The delicate cycle is also set to use cold water automatically which aids in keeping colors vibrant longer and also uses less energy.
8. Use the appropriate kind of detergent and the right amount of it
Use a mild detergent appropriate for the fabric(s) you are washing. Don’t overdo the amount of detergent. It may seem counterintuitive, however using too much detergent can actually leave your clothes dirty. Detergent residue left on clothes causes color to fade and attracts more dirt. Using the right amount of detergent is especially important if using high efficiency machines as they use less water during the wash cycles.
9. Use laundry mesh bag(s)
A couple of years ago our washer and dryer died so we purchased he machines. The owner’s manual for the washer advises against washing single item loads. It seems to impact the washer negatively when trying to balance the load. This means there is a requirement to wash multiple items at once. It’s better for the environment and more energy efficient anyways but it also means I have to mix items that I wouldn’t normally.
Laundry mesh bags have been a huge help to keep delicate items separate. They prevent the delicate items from rubbing against other materials during the wash cycle or getting snagged on zippers, buttons and other decorative details. While we are on this topic make sure to zip up the zippers all the way before you put them in the wash. The other items in the load will be safer.
10. Line dry or lay flat to dry
Air drying helps your clothes maintain their shape and original size. Remember to reshape your garments when laying them flat. I use 3 different systems to dry flat.
- I use wall mounted racks I purchased from IKEA. Each only holds one garment if laid flat on top however it accommodates more if using to line dry. It’s sturdy, adjusts to 3 different positions and can be closed when not in use. It makes excellent use of the vertical space in the laundry room.
- I also use this floor rack version from IKEA. It folds up and can be stored while not in use. It can hold 3 to 4 garments if laid flat on top (it holds more than that if line drying).
- If for any reason I need additional flat drying space I place a piece of wire shelving over my laundry sorter. I can fit 2 additional pieces of clothing on it. This is more of a backup plan for us during the winter months when we are all wearing heavy knit sweaters that need to be dried flat.
Do you have any additional tips to add to this list? I would love to hear them! Please share in the comments below.