How do you take care of your clothes?

Since I first cleaned out my closet a couple years ago, I’ve done a good job of only keeping the items that “spark joy.” This means I have fewer articles of clothing (good) and wear each of them more (also good). The problem is that as I wear them more, my clothes are looking, well, worn. Very worn. 

I really don’t know how people don’t buy clothes for 1 or 2 years. My pants get holes in the ass, my shirts get discolored around the underarm area and pill all over. They look dingy, or get oily looking stains. My underwear are in tatters. 

I wonder if I’m not taking proper care of my clothes. I started soaking my white shirts with my daughters (she has to wear them with her uniform), which helps but is time intensive (and I hate the perfumey smell of Clor.ox White Soak stuff). I already wash my jeans together, I hang most of my permanent press pieces to dry. I’m not sure what else I should be doing. 
Any tips on how to keep my clothes looking nice longer? How do you take care of your favorite clothes?


  1. I was hoping I’d click over here and find some tips! I’m not great at this. But I have found hat soaking with hot water, bleach, and oxy clean helps. Also with stains, getting them out as quickly as possible. Other than that, I don’t know.

  2. Bleach and hot water both really reduce the lifespan of your clothes. Bleach specifically destroys the fibers. I always wash in cold water with dye/fragrance free detergent and air dry my nicer clothes (the only thing I use the dryer on is underwear, PJs and workout clothes). I try to wear as many times as possible between washes (works better in the winter!). And a tip I got from frugalwoods (who wrote a post on this): turn clothes inside out to wash. I started doing this with my nicer tops and dresses. For stains, I try to spot treat with regular soap (shampoo works well for blood stains, too) or stain remover as soon as I can. Jeans can go a few weeks between washing, I rotate a couple of pairs. Pants also last a while. Dresses/tops get sweaty so I wash after 1-2 wears. My clothes seem to last forever, other than socks.

  3. For the kids clothes (6yo and 2yo) I wash everything in warm and dry everything on high. I immediately put stain treater (oxyclean gel) on anything I think needs to be treated. Because they wear their clothes for such a short amount of time, and they get dirty, I’m not concerned with the warm/high. For my clothes, I wash everything in cold and dry everything on low. I’m not sure if it’s becaue I have a lot of cloothes or if it’s how I care for them, but I still have clothes that are 10 years old.

  4. I live in the UK and don’t possess a dryer. I wash and spin everything and then hang it up to dry. When I have been in the US on holiday I have noticed that using your huge industrial size dryers (can’t believe the size of your washers and dryers over there) knocks the stuffing out of clothes. New tee shirt’s were reduced to limp “well worn” tee shirts after a spell in a US dryer. Ditch the dryer and let things air dry after a good spin and clothes will last for ages. The upside of your dryers, I think,
    is no one in the US seems to iron anything, if all the references to “folding” that I see mean what I think they do and you fold things straight out of the dryer and don’t need to iron?

  5. Not due if this is helpful, but:

    1. I wash most of my work clothes (suit separates, nice blouses, etc.) in cold and hang pants/skirts to dry, along with any non-cotton shirts (and those are dried on low) (I avoid dry clean only items if possible) (I also avoid “lay flat to dry” bc really, I don’t have acres here)
    2. I spray pits of shirts washed in cold with Shout before washing (we buy in bulk bc, kids)
    3. All athletic wear with Lycra etc is washed in cold and hung to dry
    4. I got rid of all clothes needing ironing as they wore out and now have only shirts that either come of dryer without wrinkles or drip dry without wrinkles

  6. This is a really interesting question since I still have clothes that I wear from sixth grade (don’t ask). A lot of my clothes are from college or right after college. It isn’t as if I have a ton of clothing. So… what’s up with that? I separate out lights and darks, though I have been known to throw caution to the wind and toss in some whites with the dark stuff. I wash everything warm and rinse cold. Dryer sheet with the clothes in the dryer. I’m not buying particularly great clothes. Some LL Bean, but a lot of Old Navy or t-shirts from the comic book store.

  7. We wash cold, dry low or mostly hang to dry. Kid clothes get washed warm. I also only wash things when they are dirty so often that means 2-5 wearing between washings for my clothes (longer for jeans). I also only buy fairly high quality things so they last longer. I inspect the construction before buying and often wash inside out.

  8. I have the staining problem, where do those grease spots come from and why oh why don’t I see them until after a run through the dryer?

    I stopped washing my jeans unless I see actual stuff on them. It’s amazing how well they fit now that they only see the inside of a washing machine every few months or so! I freeze them overnight when they get smells but haven’t had to do that very often.

    All our clothes are washed in cold water. We’ve been using Charlie’s Soap recently and adding white distilled
    vinegar as a rinse aid. Not sure if that’s making a huge difference but it seems to be fine. I don’t use bleach and subsequently don’t buy many white shirts. 🙂

  9. Daughter swears by putting baby powder on those grease stains as fast as possible then wash and hang dry and examine spot. I found DAWN dish soap on spot worked better For Me then wash cold, hang to dry and examine. IF spot still there try dawn again (Front and Back of stain) wash in hot, rinse cold, hang dry. Check tops in good light while wearing before taking off and put those with spots in separate pile so you spot them before washing. Spot them in good light too and be sure to let the soap soak through the whole spot.
    Quality of garment makes a difference in life of garment. Hanging to dry helps. Not washing fragile clothes with jeans helps. Cold water helps, as does low temperature to dry in dryer. Use an apron (or dishtowel around your front) when cooking or cleaning. Change out of work clothes as fast as possible on getting home to avoid spots. Swearing does not help the clothes but it can reduce tensions. Bleach is killer on fabrics! Keep lint basket clean so things dry faster but remember all that lint is the fabric coming apart…… And, yes, fewer items worn more frequently will have shorter life span in months but same number of wears and washes; they just happen more frequently.

    1. Ah yes I forgot to add that I change out of work clothes as soon as I get home. Used to be bc of long haired cats, now kids/cooking.

  10. This is a question I have also pondered.
    Lots of good suggestions above… but honestly, in the last few years I’ve realized that maybe I’m just really hard on clothes and shoes! I have no answer as to why. I don’t have very many clothes so I also wear things pretty often, but still. Once I started living with my husband, doing our laundry together, and seeing what he buys? As he jokes “you touched it, that’s probably why there’s a hole in it.”

    I swear in the last 4 years he’s only had a few things “wear out” whereas I feel like after a few months most of my everyday stuff gets holes or stains. I also only realized that getting holes in your shoes was abnormal once he started seeing them – and another friend told me she couldn’t remember ever getting a hole in her shoes! I’ve made holes in so many… a pair of rainboots, J.Crew boots, J.Crew and Patagonia flats, etc… even a pair of simple canvas sneakers I got a hole in the bottom of in 2 months.

    I already do pretty much all of the things mentioned above (avoid washing too frequently, use cold water, gentle enviro friendly detergent, air dry) and I still seem to have this problem. I do have a few random things that have lasted forever (Lululemon sale clothes, some dresses) but mostly no.

    The only problem I’ve resolved is the underarm staining one, by first using Old Spice, and now Nivea Invisible for Black and White.

    Anyways, good luck! And this makes me feel better that I’m not the only one!

  11. I use a black-wash detergent for black clothes which keeps them looking blacker and newer. I wash woollens with a wool detergent using a wool wash cycle. I put only a few things of mine in the dryer – workout clothes or very casual stuff. Anything else gets hung to dry – though not outside – as I find even my T-shirts deteriorate rapidly when put in the dryer. My husband’s T-shirts tend to survive quite well however, so some fabrics survive better than others. I use Napisan (a nappy or diaper soaker that’s more gentle than bleach) for stains.

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