One of the things that made me realize I was becoming a real grown-up, rather than a panicked 23-year-old pretending to be one, was when I bought some leather conditioner and decided I was going to start taking better care of my shoes.
Taking care of your clothes will prolong their life, get you more for your money and effort, and keep things looking new and fresh for much longer than otherwise. Especially if you are into minimalism or ethical fashion, it really makes sense to spend some time caring for the things you’ve so so thoughtfully purhased. Why spend $200 on a sweater, just to have it get misshapen in the wash or have to throw it out because it gets pilly? Keep your things looking nice for longer, and you’ll have less of a negative impact on the environment and spend less money because you won’t have To replace things so frequently! Win-win!
Below are some items I use to keep my clothes well-maintained.
This one is kind of a no-brainer. Find a detergent you like, and wash your things when they are dirty and smelly. Turn jeans inside out to keep them from fading. Zip up all zippers before you throw them in the wash- zipper teeth act like tiny cheese graters on your clothes!
However, don’t wash your clothes unless they need it. My general rule is that unless the clothes smell bad, have gunk on them, or have stretched out of shape, you don’t need to wash them. I know that sounds gross, but you probably just need to air them out, give them a little shake, and hang them back up. Washing clothes wears them out a tiny bit every time and uses a lot of water and power. It’s better for your clothes and for the planet to only wash when absolutely necessary. Also, I would recommend hanging to dry for the same reason. This drying rack is pretty lit, and saves you a bunch of quarters if you live in an aparment without a washer-dryer, like me.
Get yourself a stain remover. I am a big fan of anything that can be labelled a “stain stick.” If you were anything like me as a child, your mother carried one of these around any time you went anywhere, for when you inevitably got something on your clothes. Get this stuff on stains right away- you don’t need to actually wash it right away, and the stain will wash out (or at least most of it will wash out) when you wash it later. If the stain doesn’t wash out the first time, reapply the stain stick and wash it again! DO NOT put it In the dryer- that just locks the stain in.
Oxi-Clean is more heavy-duty. I use a very diluted solution of this in water to soak vintage garments in, if I don’t want to just pop them in the wash (and with vintage, most of the time I don’t).
I don’t use bleach- I find it too harsh and it will eat through fabric if overused.
This one is the biggest game-changer for me.
Get this leather conditioner. GET IT. It’s not shoe polish, it’s a conditioner- it will buff out scuffs, restore dulled color, and generally hydrate the leather of your shoes to make them looking new. It’s less than $10 and you can get it on Amazon. I have a pair of black ballet flats that I have beaten to absolute shit– literally walked through six-inch puddles in them because I didn’t have a choice, thanks Chicago gutter system!- and this stuff brings them up to almost-new every single time. It also works on leather jackets and purses.
I save old tee shirts and knit fabric scraps to buff this in. It’s a great way to use up scraps.
I don’t have any suede shoes, but my boyfriend does, and he uses this Kiwi suede protecting spray about once a season to protect them from moisture. Suede needs a little extra pampering in general.
Eucalan! This is a detergent that has lanolin in it, which is good for wool sweaters and will help keep them looking new for longer. Especially if you are spending a small fortune on cashmere, merino, or alpaca, you want to keep that shit looking nice for as long as possible! The key is to handwash and flat dry with Eucalan.
You only need a tiny bit in a sink full of lukewarm water.Soak the sweater for a while– I think you only need 20 minutes, but I usually forget and walk away and leave it for a few hours. Agitate it a tiny bit in the water if you want to, but DON’T scrub it- that will mess up the yarn fibers- almost like teasing your hair. Remove it once you’re satisfied, and gently squeeze it dry. Then LAY IT OUT FLAT on either a drying rack or a bunch of folded towels. It is going to take your sweater so long to dry- be prepared. What you DON’T want to do is hang the sweater. NEVER HANG YOUR KNITWEAR. When drying or just for storage- knits are made to be stretchy by design, so it always baffles me when I see that people have hung up sweaters and tee shirts in their closet. Do you WANT weirdly stretched out cashmere? Someone please explain to me why people do this.
Also, get yourself a fabric shaver. They’re tiny and not too expensive (like most things on this list! None of it is super pricey but all will change your clothing life), but if you take it to your sweaters or hats or anything that has a tendency to get a little pilly twice a year they’ll end up looking good as new. It takes about as long as an episode of Stranger Things to get through two or three sweaters. What are you waiting for?
If you are the kind of person who cares about perfectly crisp, ironed clothing, get some of this natural spray starch. You can also make your own. But this stuff gets your clothing CRISP AF. It won’t wear off until you get it wet again. Highly recommend.
Everyone has a lint roller but on the off-chance you don’t, get one! No one likes to be linty. Also sometimes you can put off washing something for an extra day or two if you lint roll it.