5 Easy Laundry Tricks for Longer-Lasting Clothes

Clothes don't come cheap—help them last longer with these expert-approved tricks.

Few things are as frustrating as pulling a recently-purchased shirt or pair of pants out of the wash and realizing they suddenly look years old. Daily wear and tear can quicken clothing aging, and there’s not much to be done about that—but there are ways to make sure laundry day isn’t making the problem worse.

Suzanne Holmes, a manager of the Product Evaluation Laboratory at Cotton Incorporated (a research and promotion company for the U.S. cotton industry), has five easy laundry routine changes that can extend the lives of clothes—no special detergents, laundry hacks, or tools necessary.

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Read laundry care labels—and follow them

Laundry Tricks for Longer Lasting Clothes - Clothing Care Label
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Everyone and their mother (literally) might be guilty of this laundry mistake: Glancing at that clothing tag that gives directions on how to wash clothes and then ignoring what it says come laundry day.

“They definitely are more than suggestions,” Holmes says. “Clothing items get tested based on those instructions that are included in the care labels.”

Holmes says carefully reading and deciphering those laundry tag symbols—and actually doing what they say, even if that does mean hand-washing a few items—can help keep clothes, especially nicer blouses or undergarments, look newer longer.

02 of 05

Turn clothes inside-out

“I make it a point to turn a lot of my garments inside-out,” Holmes says. “Turning your items inside-out can help a lot with keeping them looking newer longer, as well as color fastness.”

The abrasion caused by washing clothes in a washing machine can produce lint, which can alter the colors on clothes’ exteriors. Flipping items inside-out before tossing them in the wash makes those exteriors less exposed, which means that lint-caused fading or color alteration is focused on the less-visible interiors of clothes.

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Fasten buttons and zippers

“I like to make sure all my buttons are buttoned and my zippers are zipped,” Holmes says. This keeps exposed edges from snagging other items in the wash and tearing holes in them.

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Pretreat stains

“If you have any stains, you want to pretreat those prior to laundering them,” Holmes says.

Not pre-treating stains is a major laundry mistake that can make getting rid of stains incredibly difficult after-the-fact, not to mention hard on clothes.

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Let pre-treated items air-dry

“After the laundering process is complete, before putting garments in the dryer you had to pretreat for stains, I would suggest letting them air dry to make sure that you really did remove the stain the first time,” Holmes says. “If you put an item in the dryer and the stain is still present, then the heat from the dryer is going to set that stain.”

She recommends checking that the item is stain-free before sticking it in the dryer or putting it away. If the stain hasn't been completely removed, the clothing will need to be treated and washed again.

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