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By Abi Porter

How you care for and launder your clothes dramatically affects their look, shape, and longevity.  There is obviously way more to it than sorting darks and lights and hoping for the best.
I'll be the first to admit that I don't always heed proper washing instructions, but I was noticing the effect it has on my clothes, making them fade faster and look worn after just a month or two. I took it upon myself to properly care for my wardrobe to see if it made a difference, and I'm here to say it really did! 

If you're noticing fading, soap build-up, shrinkage, wrinkles that won't iron out, etc., it's not too late! 

Consider these laundry tips, and you'll be on your way to your clothes looking brand new!

1. Wash inside out
Have you ever noticed the inside of your clothing is in better shape than the outside? Turning your clothes inside out to protect from fading and wash wear will keep your pieces in tip top shape.
This is especially important for dark denim and pants.
You should also be turning any garments with beading, print, or other embellishments inside out to protect them from damage in the wash.

2. Protect delicates
Use a mesh laundry bag (or a pillowcase) for hosiery, socks, undergarments, and other delicate items. Simply put them into the bag or pillowcase, and tie it off and wash as you would with the rest of the laundry. The bag protects the pieces from being roughed up by other clothes. I've lost one too many pairs of tights from them getting stretched and tied into knots in a normal load of laundry. This trick has extended the life of many delicate pieces of mine!

3. Button and zip
Take a few minutes to button all buttons and zip up your zippers before you toss them into the wash. This prevents the zippers from snagging other articles of clothing and the buttons from getting loose.
This wasn't as necessary years ago when the only thing that zipped was my jeans but now zippers are decorative and on all kinds of blouses and other clothing making this step a pretty crucial one!

4. Gentle detergent but not too much
Using excessive amounts of detergent while doing laundry is one of the most common mistakes. Pay close attention to what the bottle says, and use less than that!
Too much soap will leave build-up on your clothes and even stain them.
To best care for your clothes, choose a detergent that isn't too harsh. The eco brands work great, you use less, and your clothes end up lasting longer since the soap is more gentle.

5. Spread it out
Keep your closet and drawers organized and spaced out neatly.
Cramming clothes into drawers or hanging clothes too tight next to each other results in excessive wrinkling, and ironing clothes too often can shorten the life of them dramatically.
This is a huge one for me, as my closet was full of crumpled clothes in drawers and multiple items piled on a hanger.
Taking the time to be organized will pay off big in the end!

6. Delicate cycle for everything
The delicate cycle on a washing machine is designed to gently wash your more delicate pieces like lace and light-weight items, which is great, but I want all my clothes to be preserved and washed gently, not just my delicates.
I always use this cycle no matter what kind of clothes I'm washing -- sweaters, cotton dresses, pants, everything! This is one of the best kept secrets for making your clothes last longer, and you don't have to lift a finger.

7. Wash your denim less (or not at all)
Yes, that's right -- don't wash your jeans. I was kind of grossed out at first, but you'd be surprised how many people do this! Washing and drying jeans cuts their lifespan in half, and if you're buying expensive jeans, this can really add up! The trick is to spot treat any stains, and when they are starting to feel dingy you fold them up, put them in a ziploc bag and put them in the freezer for a few days. The low temperatures kill bacteria, remove any stink, and somehow, make them feel freshly clean. Try it for a couple months, and see how it works for you, I'm betting you'll love it!

Do you have any tried and true ways to preserve your clothes and keep them looking brand new?

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