in DIY, Money

How to make the clothes you got for Christmas last at least until next year, by Kristin Wong

January 1, 2014

 It’s a good bet you ended up with some new threads under the tree this year. Clothing was the fifth most popular Christmas gift this holiday season, ahead of video games, jewelry and even alcohol, according to  a report by Nielsen.


And while you’ll probably end up in the return lines like everyone else, at least some of the clothes you got were probably serviceable enough to hold on to. Here are some tips to help it last at least until you can re-up next year.



1. Hold the dryer


It’s not just an old wives’ tale — the dryer can be bad for your clothes, as certain fabrics don’t respond well to the heat. A study from the American Chemical Society found that cotton is especially prone to damage. The study’s lead author concluded:


While cotton can be dried at the relatively high temperatures in clothes dryers without immediate catastrophic damage, serious abrasions and cracking damage occur with repeated dryings … Abrasion from the tumbling action of dryers also contributes to fabric damage.


Over-drying can also lead to shrinkage and fading. I’m not suggesting you never use the dryer again, but line drying seems to be better for your clothing.  What’s more, line drying saves energy. And quarters.



2. Don’t procrastinate on stains


“Once a stain takes on a yellow or brown color, it’s almost a sign of permanent damage,” Steve Boorstein, author of “The Ultimate Guide to Shopping and Caring for Clothing”.

He advises taking immediate action when a stain occurs. It sounds fairly obvious, but it’s easy to forget about a stain, especially if it isn’t terribly noticeable. I’ve found it helpful to carry around a stain-removing pen. I’m a klutz, so it’s come in handy quite a few times.



3. Store it right


It’s common for me to try something on, change my mind, and then put it back in my closet or drawer. Big mistake, Boorstein says.

“While you were prancing around for five minutes changing your mind, you left body oil on it,” he says.

He adds that insects often attack clothing because they smell remnants of food or body oil. Yuck.

He suggests going through your wardrobe each season and pulling out anything that may not be 100 percent clean before storing it.

“Even if you wore it for twenty minutes, a little bit of food could’ve fallen into the sweater. Come next season … maybe there’s a hole in your sweater because there was an insect munching on it,” Boorstein says.

A preventative option Boorstein suggests is leaving an organic insect repellent in your closet or wherever clothing is stored. That should keep your wardrobe from turning into a buffet for bugs.



4. Think before you make your next Christmas list


Of course, you didn’t get to pick the clothes you got for Christmas, but when you’re hitting the after-Christmas sales, it’s important to consider how each piece will fit into your lifestyle.

“Assess your own needs as honestly and clearly as possible, then go shop,” says Boorstein.

Boorstein says most items purchased on a whim don’t get worn very often. Thus, it’s important to think before you shop.

For example, if you live a stressful, active lifestyle — one that may be conducive to sweating — you might want to avoid certain fabrics.

“If you perspire a lot, all it takes is one stressful meeting,” Boorstein says. “A silk blouse — ruined.”

It’s also important to check the maintenance of the item you’re buying. As the late Mitch Hedberg once said, “This shirt is ‘dry-clean only,’ which means it’s dirty.”


When you shop, Boorstein suggests asking the following questions:


  • Does this item fit my lifestyle?
  • Is this a color I’m going to wear?
  • Can this item be easily washed?


What do you do to make your clothing last longer?