Our Guide to Caring for Your Clothes and Caring for the Earth
17 Jul

Our Guide to Caring for Your Clothes and Caring for the Earth

Caring for your clothes is an essential know-how for any fashionista who cares about the environment. Once you’ve nailed that wardrobe clean out and whittled your clothing collection down to an elegant and mindful capsule wardrobe, the next step is to learn how to make those items last.

By taking on these simple tips, you can maximise the longevity of your favourite items and truly master timeless fashion.

Wear in your jeans

Jeans are the timeless staple in everybody’s collection. If your denim favourites have been your go-to garb over the cooler months, then the good news is that you don’t have to feel guilty for not washing them after every wear. In fact, you can keep them away from the washing basket for the whole season. According to the kings of denim, Levi Strauss (rated ‘Good’), your jeans should forego a spin in the washing machine for as long as possible.

To stop the inevitable smell that may waft from a pair of jeans that haven’t been cleaned in months, there are a couple of strategies you can adopt. The first would be to regularly air it out on the clothesline. Another method, according to Nobody Denim’s (rated ‘Good’) designer Troy Strebe, would be to freeze your jeans. Freezing your jeans will neutralise the odours and, literally, keep it fresh. Hot (or cold) tip: to avoid hypothermia, you might want to let them warm up a bit before the first wear!

Rotate your bras + wash delicately

Another over-washed garment sitting in your wardrobe is your bra collection. You could be getting 3 to 4 wears out of a bra before washing it. The best way to do this is by rotating your bras daily so that you’re not wearing the same one for days in a row. Machine washing your bras is also one of the easiest ways to decrease their longevity. All those frills, wires and clips are just waiting to catch, pull and tear on something in the spin cycle.

So, when the time comes to washing your bras, hand-washing them is the way to go. You can even try washing them in the shower. This method is just as much about conserving water as it is about killing two birds with one stone. Just think, as your body is washed in a warm and soapy environment, so are your bras! But yes, we understand, hand-washing takes precious time. If you simply don’t have the hours in your day, using a mesh laundry bag for your bras will protect them from snagging in the washing machine.

Choose the cold cycle

According to Smithsonian Magazine, washing clothes on a hot cycle uses 75% more energy than cold water washes, and warm water is also more likely to break down dyes and cause shrinkage. This means that by washing only with cold water you’re not only reducing your energy consumption and saving money, you’re also extending the life of every piece of clothing. If the reason you like to wash on a hot cycle is for the antibacterial benefits, then adding ½ a cup of white vinegar with 20 to 25 drops of tea tree oil can be just as effective.

DIY + eco-friendly detergents

Like many cleaning products, our store-bought laundry detergents are often filled with harsh chemicals. By choosing a detergent that is low-phosphate (in Australia you should look for the ‘P’ or ‘NP’ labels) you can reduce the environmental damage.

But even eco-friendly detergents come packaged in single-use plastic, which takes hundreds of years to break down. All the more reason to grab those recycled jam jars you’ve been storing for a rainy day and whip up a batch of your own earth-friendly washing powder with this brilliant recipe by 1 Million Women.

Sew good!

A simple nip and tuck to a garment can transform it from an 80s has-been to a bold statement piece. The decision to fix or update a garment before you toss it not only saves you money but also allows you to get creative and view your old clothes from new angles, meaning you’re less likely to make those impulsive fast fashion buys. If DIY tailoring is not your modus operandi, then most local dry cleaners offer repair services at very competitive rates to make small changes such as hemming or patching. It’s a cheap and quick option that can reinvigorate an old favourite.

Lather your leather

While it’s always important to consider vegan and eco-friendly leather options before you buy, you should still take good care of any leather products you already own. There are three steps to care for your leather. The first is to protect the leather before you wear it with either a DIY or purchased cleaner. Secondly, regularly clean your leather goods. This should be once every 3 months so that it avoids mould and stays soft. And finally, keep your leather stored away in dark and dry place to protect it from premature weathering.

When choosing a cleaner for your leather, as with detergents, there are plant-based, homemade and eco-friendly options out there. One easy recipe involves mixing 2/3 cup of olive oil with 1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice­­­­. Apply this mixture and let it soak into the leather for 10 to 15 minutes, then buff it off with a dry cloth. If you don’t feel comfortable with rubbing oil directly onto your leather goods, then there are plant-based polishes that you can buy. Sydney-based company Saarinen Organics makes a leather conditioner from lavender, tea tree oil, beeswax and olive oil.

There you have it, by taking these easy steps, you’ll not only be increasing the lifetime of your clothes, you’ll also decrease your carbon footprint, learn some new skills and save money. You can thank us later

Editor's note

Additional research provided by Camille Soulos-Ramsay. Feature image via Unsplash.

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