Eight Easy Tips For Babying Your Clothes

Eight easy tips for babying your clothes. The average US family spends between 3 and 4% of its total budget on clothing. The 2018 median income of US households was $62,000, so that’s $1,800 – $2,500 on average. (Your mileage may vary. My household spends a little less since I retired.).

If we splash out this much money annually, we probably want to take good care of our clothing and accessories. I was fairly ruthless with my clothes in my youth. I worked for large corporations, wore “corporate” clothes, and sent most things out to the dry cleaners regularly – very tough on fabrics and the environment.

I’ve learned how to baby my clothes over the years. Not only do they last longer, they retain that fresh look and feel longer, and therefore remain more flattering. I have seen the difference between a black tee that’s been manhandled and one that’s been coddled.

Our clothes are too much a part of us for most of us ever to be entirely indifferent to their condition: it is as though the fabric were indeed a natural extension of the body, or even of the soul.

Quentin Bell

Here are a few of my clothing care techniques. No doubt you have some too. Please share in the comments, we have no secrets here. 😊

  • I wash almost all my clothes in cold water. (Well, in Florida the water’s pretty tepid most of the year). I have no trouble getting my lightly-worn items fresh and clean this way. Sheets, towels, and workout clothes get the warm water bath.
  • I use about one-half the recommended amount of laundry detergent. It’s plenty to get everyday clothing clean, and it’s gentler on fabrics.
  • I turn all my tops and washable skirts inside out, to minimize fabric-rub. Same for jeans.
  • Bras and other delicates go in a zippered lingerie bag.
  • Lessons learned the hard way: zip all the zippers before you wash. Those little teeth can chew.
  • “Nice” things go in the dryer for only 10 – 15 minutes, on medium-low heat. Then I take them out, shake, and hang them in the bathroom. It’s dryer heat that really wears down fabric. I take this opportunity to gently stretch jeans that are (ahem) a little snug.
  • Easy to say, harder to do: don’t crowd clothing in the closet; give pieces a little space to breathe so they don’t wrinkle. On their no-wire-hangers, naturally.
  • I only recently re-discovered the joys of a good shoe repair shop. Now I get my favorite shoes and boots polished and re-heeled when they start looking worn. It’s like getting new shoes for $20, and already broken in!

Over to you – do you have any easy tips to share for clothing care?

Stay fabulous and safe, wash and wash and wash (your hands), xo

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  1. I follow most of your guidelines too. I only use the dryer for sheets and towels – everything else gets air-dried. Now that mask wearing is part of my daily routine I wash them in a mesh lingerie bag to keep the elastics from getting ruined.

    • Oh yes – we have a new chore – keeping our masks fresh. I usually wash mine by hand in the sink, with warm soapy water, but I like your idea of a lingerie bag. Hope you are well, and fabulous as ever, xx.

  2. I follow almost all of your guidelines – well not the one about closet crowding lol – but our water is so hard here that if I used less detergent it would not suds at all.

    After a slight de-wrinkling in the dryer, I hang my clothes on hangers. I have several over the door hanger holders that I use to hang several items on each hook.

    • Good morning Book Goddess and thanks for coming over. Yeah, the hardness of the water is definitely a factor – ours is medium. Love your over the door hanger method, so organized. Stay well and safe and have a great weekend, xx.

  3. I line dry almost everything. It was easy when I had a house; now I’m in an apartment and put up a drying rack. The dryer is only for towels. Dryers are bad for clothes and terrible for the environment.
    I don’t need to wear suits anymore, so au revoir dry cleaning. Have you heard of The Laundress? And environmental alternative to dry cleaning.
    I once was in a meeting with the CEO of P&G and some other P&G experts. They said that front-load washers are far superior to top-load, that you don’t need too much detergent and that dryers are terrible. Also: enzymes. They are like yeast, little critters that eat away the dirt.
    Highly recommended book: “My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag…and Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha,” by Jolie Kerr. AKA How to Clean Anything.

    • Dryer racks are my friends too. I love your saying “au revoir” to dry cleaning! And yes, I want to try the Laundress products; I’ve heard good reviews.
      Thanks for sharing your tips – and that book sounds like a must-read : >
      Stay safe and fabulous, xx.

  4. I use a product called “Forever New” fabric care wash for my hand washables and make frequent use of my wooden clothes rack to dry my clothes I don’t want to put in the dryer. I always look forward to your posts, Patti. Thanks for your enjoyable writing.

    • I have to look up “Forever New”, thanks Anne. And thank you for your kind words and for being a regular reader! Stay safe and well, xx.

  5. I like to use Woolite for fine washables and also use the lingerie bags for the very delicate.

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