Sweat stains? Fading colors? Pilling? Missing buttons? We have all been there with our clothes, and it can be seriously frustrating.
The average American spends roughly 4% of their household income on clothing every year — that can add up significantly when you’re on a tight budget. We’ve probably all heard that buying used at thrift stores or swapping clothes with friends can help you cut back on expensive clothing purchases, but these aren’t your only options. Taking proper care of your clothing can give them a longer life and help you save through a lower wardrobe budget. Check out the tips below to improve your clothing care.
1. Give Clothing a Rest
Even though playing favorites with clothing is natural, it’s a good idea to rotate your shoes and apparel so they do not wear out prematurely. Bottoms and footwear take the biggest brunt of wear, so you may want to try and give them a rest. This goes for cleaning as well as wearing. Washing and dry cleaning expose your clothing to hash chemicals that can harm fabric. While socks, underwear and swimwear can go only one wear before wash, other items can often be worn two to five times before washing. (Of course if you sweat excessively or get an item dirty, you may have to wash it sooner.) Don’t let that gross you out — your garments (and wallet) will thank you.
2. Read the Label
It may seem obvious, but ignoring the care instructions can damage your clothing. This is easy to avoid. The clothing producer knows most about the product, so it’s important to be conscious of what is safe in the dryer, what needs hot or cold water, and what can’t be exposed to bleach. You can also separate items of different fabric, color and dirtiness.
3. Store Properly
It makes sense to keep out-of-season items out of the way, but it’s important to make sure things are being stored in the best way for preservation. Cheap hangers run the risk of stretching the shoulders of your garments, while wooden hangers can provide the necessary support for heavier items. It’s a good idea to keep storage spaces breathable so clothes aren’t crushed or getting musty. This also applies for jamming your closet or drawers full of clothes.
4. Take Care When Washing
The best way to protect your clothes from fading or wearing usually means using cold water and less detergent. You can try turning things inside out to further avoid color bleeding and fading. Also secure all Velcro and zippers closures so nothing sticks or snags to other pieces of clothing.
5. Avoid the Dryer
Exposing your fabrics to high heat can cause fading, shrinking and elastic stretching. The balls of lint that you remove from your dryer are actually pieces of your clothing. It is best to use your dryer sparingly and line or hang-dry your clothes when possible. If you do have to use the dryer, cut down on the time clothes are in there by using dryer balls.
Whether you want to focus more on saving for retirement or paying down debt, don’t let your clothing wardrobe dominate your budget. With these simple tips, you can find your current clothes last longer and you have less need to buy new.
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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.