One of the most frequent questions we get from our customer base is how to care for clothing. Our customers are mindful about the clothing they purchase, choosing to invest in quality materials that are made to last for multiple seasons and years. While slow fashion garments are typically durable, our customers want to ensure they are taking care of their clothing and have a solid grasp on strategies to make things last.
We put together a short list of simple changes you can make at home that are good for not only increasing clothing longevity, but also help your household to consume less energy and conserve water.
Wash Less - one of the quickest ways to wear out your clothing is repeated, frequent washing. In general, clothing can be worn multiple times before needing a thorough washing. For example, denim requires minimal washing (washing after 3-5 wears) and raw denim should rarely be washed. Before using the washing machine, consider doing a quick spot clean with a bamboo or beechwood brush and white vinegar, washing soda, and Borax solutions. If you notice clothing is not smelling its freshest, air it out by hanging outdoors or put dry clothing in the freezer to kill odor causing bacterias. Run the washing machine as a last resort and only when you have enough clothing for a full load.
Hand Wash and Spot Clean - hand washing smaller loads will decrease your water consumption. Even the most energy efficient of washing machines can use upwards of 15 gallons of water for each cycle. Hand washing allows you to control the amount of water used and is a gentler method. This is especially true for materials like linen, which have less flexible fibers than cotton and hemp. Machine washing can cause fibers to break and shed. If challenged with a stain, consider doing a simple spot clean instead of tossing the garment in the machine.
There are many simple recipes for homemade stain removers. You can make a paste using common household ingredients like white vinegar, Borax, and washing soda. We live in San Antonio - a city with super hard water. We’ve had the most success spot cleaning with a little Borax and water, as washing soda can leave a chalky residue when mixed with hard water. We spot treat by gently scrubbing stains with a paste using the Burstenhaus Redecker dish brush, sold at Offering for $12 - click link to view dish brush: https://www.templeofoffering.com/products/dish-brush?_pos=2&_sid=a92ae1b7b&_ss=r
Wash Cold and Hang-Dry - this is a great way to decrease energy consumption and will help to avoid shrinking!
Make Your Own Laundry Detergent - Making your own cleaning products will save you money! DIY laundry detergent will help to avoid introducing harsh, synthetic chemicals into the home. We use a recipe from the book “Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills” by Raleigh Briggs - sold in Offering for $12 - click link to view book: https://www.templeofoffering.com/products/make-your-place?_pos=1&_sid=2e5c0b8e1&_ss=r
Replace Dryer Sheets with Wool Dryer Balls - If you are not able to hang-dry clothing, consider using dryer balls. Offering carries dryer balls made of New Zealand sheeps’ wool. Dryer balls work by creating space between clothing in the dryer so that warm air can circulate more freely, in turn decreasing drying time. Dryer balls can last up to 1000 cycles. Once clothing is dry, we like to add a few drops of essential oil to a dryer ball and run on air fluff for 5 minutes to add a nice scent to the load. We recommend using 3 balls for small loads and 6 balls for large loads. Clink link to view dryer balls: https://www.templeofoffering.com/products/wool-dryer-ball?_pos=1&_sid=e8b22c695&_ss=r
Learn About Microfibers - we are still in the process of learning about how microfibers from clothing are impacting the environment. Microfibers shed from clothing when washed and remain in the water system. When purchasing new and used clothing, opt for natural materials like organic cotton, linen, and hemp over synthetic materials.
About the blog post author: Kristi is currently serving as the book curator and co-manager at Temple of Offering. Kristi stepped into this role following five years of working as a therapist for children and adolescents with histories of trauma. Kristi is passionate about mental health advocacy, community development, public education, environmentalism, LGBTQ+ advocacy, and decolonization. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Oklahoma in Sociology and Women & Gender Studies. She served as an AmeriCorps member for two years at a non-profit in Oklahoma before attending graduate school at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Kristi has her Masters in Community Counseling. She has served as an adjunct professor of psychology at Baptist University of the Americas in San Antonio and currently conducts Trust Based Relational Intervention (a trauma-informed mode of mental health care) trainings at an inpatient psychiatric hospital in San Antonio. Kristi works to use her background, experiences, and interests to provide an alternative shopping experience for customers and community partners.