More than 30% of unwanted clothing is sent to landfill in the UK.
In fact, the UK is the fourth-largest producer of textile waste in Europe with Britons throwing out 1.7kg of clothing a year each.
One of the easiest ways to combat a wasteful wardrobe and be more eco-conscious about your fashion is to make your clothes last longer.
Not only does prolonging the lifecycle of your clothes prevent waste from being sent to landfill but it also saves you money, reduces consumption and cuts your carbon footprint.
Plus, you can get more wear out of your favourite garments.
So, how do you make your clothes last longer?
From washing techniques to storing and mending, the pebble team have rounded up 36 simple hacks alongside expert tips from the Ripples by pebble community to help you make the most of your clothes.
Here’s what you need to know.
36 Ingenious Ways To Make Your Clothes Last Longer
First of all…let’s just start with a big one.
1. Think quality over quantity
When you do buy new clothes, make sure they’re well-made with good quality fabrics.
Spending a little extra on wardrobe staples will encourage you to value them more too.
2. Always sort your laundry
As tempting as it is, don’t shove all your clothes in the washing machine at once. Separate whites from darks, heavy fabrics from lighter ones and keep particularly soiled clothes away from the rest.
Always wash towels separately from your clothes too.
3. Use a Guppyfriend wash bag
Did you know most garments made from synthetic fabrics produce microplastics that enter the waterways from your washing machine?
4. Use a delicates bag too
Keep your delicates secure, snag and rip free in their own wash bag. They won’t go missing as easily either.
5. Follow the label instructions
This might be an obvious one but the best way to avoid any clothes washing mishaps is to read the instructions on the label carefully. Particularly if it’s a delicate fabric!
“If you don’t wear it next to your skin, air it after wearing it”
6. Wash your clothes less
Most clothes you can get away with wearing more than once (except underwear, of course).
Unless visibly dirty or starting to smell, you can wear your clothes at least three times before they go in the wash.
Ripples community member Lucie Harrild’s rule is: “If you don’t wear it next to your skin, air it after wearing it.”
7. Zip up all zips
Zip up all zips and tie up any loose drawstrings to prevent snag disasters in the washing machine drum.
8. Carry a stain removal pen
Your best bet for vanquishing a stain is to treat it immediately. Use a stain removal pen to dab at the affected area. If you don’t have one handy, cold water works well too.
9. Wash denim inside out
An easy way to prevent your favourite pair of jeans from fading is to wash them inside out.
10. Don’t wash jumpers often
Jumpers need washing even less than most of your clothes. After four or five wears is the sweet spot as they keep their shape and softness for longer.
Put them on a gentle cycle with cold water or alternatively, hand wash. Then lay them flat on a towel to dry.
11. Don’t overfill your washing machine
Stuffing your washing machine full might seem more economical as you’re reducing the number of washes, but your clothes don’t have enough room to wash properly.
They also rub together, leading to fading and damage.
12. Go easy on the detergent
Most detergents are full of toxic chemicals that are harmful to the environment, your clothes and even you – the same goes for fabric softeners… Use gentle detergents like Splosh instead.
You can also add half a cup of baking soda directly to the drum and it will act as a detergent booster!
13. Wash dark clothes inside out
Preserve the colours of your dark clothes by washing them inside out. The same goes for printed T-shirts as it will keep them from cracking.
14. Wash dark and bright colours in cold water
Wash brightly coloured or dark clothes in cold water to prevent colours from fading or bleeding.
15. Air dry your clothes
Where possible, avoid hanging your clothes on radiators or heated dryers. Allow them to air dry naturally instead.
Overheating can cause clothes to shrink, fade and lose their elasticity – particularly in activewear.
Dry lights outside and darks inside too to help them retain their colours.
16. Avoid dry cleaning
Dry cleaning is terrible for your clothes – and the environment for that matter – as it uses harsh chemicals that damage fabrics over time. It’s expensive too.
Read more on this: 4 reasons why you need to quit dry cleaning and switch to wet cleaning
17. Use the right hangers
Plastic and metal hangers stretch out the shoulders of your clothes making them eventually sag in all the wrong places.
Although more expensive, wooden hangers are sturdier and support your clothes better.
18. Fold your jumpers on a shelf
There’s nothing worse than stretching your favourite jumper. Prevent that from happening by folding them away on a shelf.
19. Repel moths naturally
Moths are notorious for putting holes in clothes.
Banish them the natural way with lavender or mint essential oils, cedarwood chips or sachets of cloves, thyme or rosemary.
20. Put your jumper in the freezer
Is your favourite cashmere sweater still getting eaten by moths despite your best efforts?
“Put your treasured jumper in the freezer for about 24 hours to kill off moth eggs/larvae,” says community member Andrea Leggett.
21. Keep your shoes and bags in dust bags
Keep dust, dirt and moths off your shoes and bags by storing them in dust bags.
If you don’t have any you can store them in old pillowcases instead for an easy zero waste way to repurpose old bedding!
“Wearing two different socks is way less dull and you’ll make a sustainable fashion statement while doing so”
22. Hang occasionwear in canvas garment bags
Always avoid storing your clothes in plastic dry cleaning bags. Plastic can trap moisture and damage your clothes.
If you have favourite clothes and occasionwear you would rather not store in a pillowcase, invest in some proper canvas garment bags.
23. Keep your wardrobe tidy
Keep your wardrobe neat and well-ordered. This will A) help you find an item quicker and B) prevent your clothes from getting creased or damaged.
Short on space? Store out of season clothes separately in garment bags.
24. Have a regular clear-out
Most people wear 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time and one way to beat fast fashion is to get to know your wardrobe inside out.
Dig through the clothes you hardly wear so you know exactly what you need and what you don’t.
Find inspiration in this story: 5 Things I Learned While Wearing The Same Outfit For A Month
25. Store all clothes, shoes and accessories in a cool dry place
The rule of thumb for all clothes, shoes and accessories is to always store them in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight. That way they’re less prone to moths, mold or fading.
If your room suffers from damp (particularly in the winter), put a dehumidifier near where you store your clothes to reduce moisture and help make your clothes last longer.
26. Stuff shoes and bags
When you buy new shoes or bags, they’re often stuffed with paper. This simple hack helps them keep their shape for longer.
You can do this too – particularly with items you don’t wear as much. Use waste paper or packaging.
Mending and treating clothes
27. Get to know your iron settings
Got a shirt or dress that needs a quick iron?
Set the iron’s temperature two degrees below the recommended setting to tackle light creases. That way there’s no danger of accidental shrinking or burning.
Alternatively, steam your clothes with a steamer or hang them in the bathroom while you have a hot shower.
28. Embrace odd socks
Lost one half of a sock pair? Keep that sock in rotation!
“You’ll get much more usage out of your current sock collection,” says Ripples community member Martijn Lavoir from Sock by Sock.
“Upside, wearing two different socks is way less dull and you’ll make a sustainable fashion statement while doing so.”
29. Keep that spare button
You know that spare button you sometimes get with the label on a new item of clothing?
Keep it and put it in a safe place. You never know whether you’ll need it later.
Community member Linz Martin says: “Over the years I’ve accumulated a small collection of buttons, clips etc so when it comes to repairing instead of having to go and buy/source these items I have them to hand.”
“Prolong your clothing’s lifecycle by learning some basic mending skills such as darning, stitching and sewing on a button”
30. Learn basic mending
Your clothes are always going to get wear and tear but a hole or lost button doesn’t need to spell the end for your favourite piece.
Prolong your clothing’s lifecycle by learning some basic mending skills such as darning, stitching and sewing on a button.
And it’s not just clothes you can bring back to life. Shopping Secondhand? How To Revive A Vintage Handbag At Home
31. Have a mending session
Have items at the back of your wardrobe you keep meaning to mend? Set aside time in your calendar once or twice a year for simple bulk repairs.
Invite others to join you and turn it into a fun workshop and share your skills with each other. It can be mindful too. Check out Why Sewing And Mending Your Clothes Is Good For The Soul
32. Hate sewing? These tricks can help
- No sew patches
- Hem tape
- Fabric glue
- Needle felting
- No sew stud buttons
I had some PJ’s which were too short, so I turned them into shorts and use the leftovers as wipes in my kitchen
33. Give your dark clothes a dye bath
Rejuvenate dark block-coloured garments with a simple dye bath. Add the directed amount of dye and water to a bucket and carefully dip the garment in it.
Place the item in a cool wash the first few times afterwards to prevent the dye from running.
34. Remove jumper pills
Are your favourite old jumpers plagued with pilling?
Use a pill comb or even an old razor and lightly run it down the length of your jumper to remove unwanted fluff and bobbles.
35. Use a tailor
Don’t have the time to mend clothing yourself? Repair too complicated?
Take it to a tailor and get it professionally fixed or altered for you!
You can find a local tailor near you or use an online service like Clothes Doctor who will deliver your good-as-new clothes straight to your door.
36. Repurpose your clothes
If you have a garment that doesn’t spark joy or no longer fits, repurpose it into something else. Turn a dress into a top, for example.
Ripples community member Geraldine Lawrence says: “I had some pj’s which were too short, so I turned them into shorts and use the leftovers as wipes in my kitchen…” Two in one!
“When my son’s trousers are too short, I cut them off and turn them into shorts”
Bonus kids’ clothes mending hacks
One of the most challenging types of clothes to make last is kid’s clothes.
For one thing, babies outgrow seven clothing sizes in just two years.
But it’s not just the growing, parents have to keep up with, it’s the active playtimes, tumbles, mud, rips and more.
Although charity shops and hand-me-downs are a great way to pass on outgrown clothes, what about the ones that are too worn out?
It’s expensive to constantly buy new clothes too.
Many of the clothing hacks featured above can also help your kids’ clothes last longer and keep them out of landfill.
And once they’re too small or too grubby you can adapt them.
That’s exactly what the founder of sustainable kidswear brand, Boy Wonder, Ismay Mummery does:
“When my son’s trousers are too short, I cut them off and turn them into shorts, same with long-sleeved shirts when the cuffs have got too grubby,” she says.
Take it further…
A big thank you to our community members for offering their tips and suggestions.
Get exclusive discounts and honest reviews for some of our favourite brands when you sign up to our free online community.
Do you have any tips to make your clothes last longer? Share them in the comments below!