How to prolong the life span of your clothes

The well-known term ‘quality over quantity’ has never been so prevalent. Today, an estimated £140m worth of clothing goes into UK landfills each year, totalling  300,000 tonnes of textile waste.

As I get older and my disposable income increases, I have chosen to invest more in pieces that are better-quality and cost more. As a result, I want these pieces to have longevity so my cost per wear is better. I also love trawling vintage stores and second-hand designer reseller sites for special pieces. Even vintage clothing that’s only a few decades old is much better in quality than most of the fast fashion we see today. Loved vintage items are particularly special because once they are gone there is no getting them back.

There’s no denying that it’s so much worse having to say “R.I.P” to a piece of clothing you truly love; a considered purchase you’ve spent a lot of money on or a one-of-a-kind vintage find versus a basic high-street item that’s been replicated 30,000 times over and costs under £25.

Here are my top tips on prolonging the life span of your clothes.

Store your clothing correctly

When the seasons change, nothing is more disappointing than digging-out your stored items for winter to find them riddled with moth holes, mouldy or smelling of damp, and generally in a worse state than when you packed them away 6 months previously. Taking some time to store your clothes right will ensure you aren’t greeted with any disappointing or horrifying finds when you reach for your favourite and expensive knitwear as the cold draws in.

  1. Wash clothes as per label instructions to clean away any dirt or smells before storing. Make sure they are 100% dried to avoid damp or mildew setting in. Also, stains settle-in deeper as times passes, so tackle them in the first instance as it may be harder to salvage something further down the line.
  2. Cardboard boxes or plastic bags aren’t a great way to store your clothes. Plastic bags can trap in moisture and cardboard boxes aren’t sufficient enough protection from vermin if storing in lofts or hired storage spaces. If storing for months at a time I find vacuum sealed compression bags are best and very affordable from Amazon.com. Alternatively you can use airtight plastic boxes.
  3. I have personally never found mothballs that effective. They also smell bad and give off unwanted chemicals. My mum introduced me to cedar balls which are a natural alternative if you did have a moth problem.
  4. Cool, clean, dark and dry is the ideal environment for storing you precious garments.

Use the correct hangers

As a teenager I never understood the benefit of using correct hangers. All my clothes were stored on the flimsy plastic hangers the clothes came with. I remember wondering why my parents only used fancy padded or wooden ones. When I started investing a little more in my clothes and buying tailoring and evening dresses, I then realised the benefit of having the correct hanger for a specific item. For example, have you ever hung something like a piece of knitwear or a blazer on a thin plastic hanger, then gone to wear it and you’ve got pointy shoulders where the garment has become misshapen? This has happened to me so many times!

I now see the benefit of using wide wooden hangers for knitwear, shirts and tailoring to avoid misshapen clothes. Those weird satin padded ones back in the 80’s seem really over the top and dated. Nothing beats a simple wooden hanger with a trouser bar in my opinion. They also look super chic and minimalist in your closet. Again, you can buy these in bulk fairly cheaply online and they last much longer than plastic or wire ones. For all delicate items like dresses or slips and camisoles with slippy fabrics you can’t go wrong with the velvet flocked ones. They are also thinner than wooden ones so take up less room.

Wash and iron with care

I realised as an adult that I wasn’t ever taught how to properly wash and iron clothes. It was very much something that I stumbled my way through at Uni, very much trial and error. At 31 I seem to have a handle on the basics. This is what I know.

The way we wash and iron our clothes daily really impacts the longevity of a garment.  Nowadays, we are all so busy that taking care to do your laundry correctly isn’t always a priority but understanding the basics of doing laundry can mean saving a lot of time and energy on having to re-do your laundry loads as well as avoiding having to chuck things.

Always wash clothing according the instructions – aka on the right temperature. Clothes labels can be confusing. I tend to only pay attention to 2 things. 1. whether it can go in the washing machine or not. And 2. what temperature it should go on. After that it’s a case of dividing the clothes into loads of darks, colours and whites.

When hanging your clothes to dry, always shake and smooth out each item before hanging. My partner is always super sloppy when it comes to this and it means things can take double the time to dry and when they are dry they often smell damp because they’ve dried too slowly. Everything needs to be rewashed, ARGH.

Today’s irons often have steaming mechanics built in as a feature like the Breville PressXpress® 2800W Ceramic Steam Iron I’m using in these pics. This is much better than an older dry heat iron because it will save you time. Also it means you can press your clothes when they are slightly damp too, again saving time. 

I was sent the new Breville PressXpress® 2800W Ceramic Steam Iron to try out as part of this project. Breville is a well-known household appliance name, making it big in the 80’s for their toasted sandwich makers, mmmmmm cheese toasties. Its range of PressXpress® Steam Irons are here to make the very unglamorous and boring task of ironing easy, fool-proof and safe on even your most precious garments.

Key features include:

• Extra powerful 180g/min steam shot, which banishes wrinkles with ease

• Large 400ml water tank, to avoid frequent refills

• Easy-fill water inlet – spill free filling

• Extra-long 3m cord with 360° swivel to avoid tangles

• 3-Way auto-shut off feature for extra safety

• SAFE-STORETM heat indicator tells you when your iron is safe to put away

• Vertical steam system

• Anti-drip; anti-scale; self-clean

• Water spray

• Temperature indicator

The Breville PressXpress® 2800W Ceramic Steam Iron was really easy to set up and start. As an ironing-phobe, aka someone who avoids doing the ironing at all costs, I just plugged her in, filled her up and cracked on. It powered through creases and the steam function was really powerful and satisfying to use. The wide heel meant I was covering yards of fabrics in seconds. It’s also pretty cute with its rose gold ceramic-coated soleplate. Never thought I’d be complimenting an iron on the way it looks. I guess I really am 31 now.

You can purchase the Breville PressXpress® 2800W Ceramic Steam Iron here.

And see the full range of Breville PressXpress® Irons here.

* This post is in collaboration with Breville.

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