How to Preserve Your Favorite Clothes to Make Them Last
Whether you’re looking to preserve the outfit your baby came home in from the hospital, the t-shirt from the first concert you attended, or that stylish new dress you just purchased, finding the right methods to keep your clothes looking clean, fresh, and the way they looked when first purchased is important. Preserving your clothing can help ensure it lasts longer to allow you to wear your favorite pieces again and again or hold on to the treasured memories associated with a particular item.
Fortunately, preserving your clothes to ensure a lifetime of wear and memories is easier than you may think. We’ll share some of the basics to help keep your favorite items looking their best so they’re ready when you reach for them in your closet or drawers.
Follow Proper Washing Procedures
You’ve likely heard that it is important to wash similarly-colored clothes together. However, did you know that you’ll have greater success preserving your clothes and keeping them looking newer if you wash similar fabrics together instead? This will help some of your more delicate fabrics, and even t-shirts, fare better since they won’t be rubbing against the thick denim, metal zippers, or other rougher parts of other clothes in the wash with them.
Rather than simply dumping all of the dirty clothes from your hamper into the washer, take a few extra minutes to help ensure everything comes out of the wash looking like it did going in. As you’re checking your pockets for coins, trash, or other items that shouldn’t go in the washing machine, make sure all the zippers on your pants or jackets are zipped up. Doing so will help prevent the zipper from damaging other items in the wash, and it will also help make sure the zipper maintains its shape for lasting durability. If you have silk screened shirts, flipping them inside out may also help protect the image on the shirt.
Of course, before you put anything in the washing machine, read the care instructions. Some items are best washed in cold water, while others may call for warm or hot water. Additionally, you may find that some of your more delicate items require hand washing or dry cleaning. While these may be an added expense or chore, it's worth it to protect your treasured clothing items.
Dryers have made completing a load of laundry much less tedious and time-consuming, however if you’re looking to preserve your clothes, it may be best to go old school and hang your items to dry instead. Dryers may cause fabrics to shrink, affecting the way they fit you. Dryers can also cause damage to clothing. The damage is typically hardly noticeable (a loose thread or minor wear to the fabric), but over time this damage will add up and compromise the integrity of your items.
Consider Best Practices for Short- or Long-Term Storage
One of the most important steps you can take when trying to preserve your clothes is to make sure you are storing them properly. Now, you may be thinking, “I’m going to wear this sweater again next week, so does it really matter how it is stored for such a short amount of time?” It absolutely does!
Closets are great and can help you easily find the clothing item you’re searching for, but hanging shirts or sweaters up can actually decrease their lifespan and cause them to wear more quickly. When a shirt or sweater is hung up on a hanger, the weight towards the bottom of the shirt causes it to stretch out. Rather than hanging your sweaters and shirts, the best way to preserve them is to fold them and store them in a drawer. Pants can be carefully folded on the creases and hung by the cuff.
Now, you may be wondering about storing clothing items for a longer period of time, such as keeping your sweaters preserved over the summer or how to store baby clothes long term. When storing items for an extended period of time, find a cool, dry, and dark space in your home to help them last longer.
Before placing anything in long-term storage, make sure the container is completely clean and dust-free. In addition, check that everything is freshly washed and fully dried. You should also inspect each piece of clothing for stains and try to treat the stains before placing items in storage.
Choosing the best storage container is one of the most important decisions you can make for long-term storage of clothing. While they may be more expensive, archival storage boxes will offer your items the greatest amount of protection against yellowing or other damage. If you have any wool items, be sure to add some lavender or cedar chips to keep moths away.
Your clothes are so much more than just a piece of fabric that covers your body. Each piece has a story that goes along with it. Following the advice we shared above can help you protect that unique story and keep your beloved items looking their best. Think about your wardrobe. Which of your clothing items are most important to you? What will you do differently to preserve them so you can continue to add to their story for many years to come?