8 Ways You're Unknowingly Ruining Your Clothes

Though we don’t consider ourselves (or you) reckless with belongings, we’d be lying if we said we hadn’t inadvertently sabotaged an item by not properly caring for it. Nothing is more disappointing than having to toss a beloved cashmere sweater or pair of boots because you yourself didn’t take care of them. Oh, the waste!

But you know what? That stops today, friends. We gathered a roundup of simple yet effective tips to make sure you never have to say farewell to anything because of something you did (or didn’t) do to keep it as pristine as possible. From how to wash your intimates to the dry-cleaning mistake you’re probably making, see below for eight ways you’re ruining your stuff—and how to stop!

#1: You're dry-cleaning too much


(Image credit: Collage Vintage)

If the label of your garment says “dry clean” instead of “dry clean only,” you can probably hand-wash it at home and skip the send-out process altogether. This is good for financial reasons, sure, but for certain items—like cashmere—it can actually also prolong the life of the item because the dry-cleaning chemicals break down fibres, and deodorant can even cause discoloration.

#2: You're folding your leather


(Image credit: Collage Vintage)

Anyone who owns a leather jacket, dress, or trousers knows how irritating it is if these pieces get wrinkled. You obviously can’t iron them, and the process of getting unwanted lines out can seemingly take forever (not to mention being super risky). Instead, place your piece on a hanger with a cushion between the metal clip and the item so the leather doesn’t get dented (if it’s just a jacket, a felt hanger is fine).

#3: You're forgetting to use protector spray


(Image credit: Collage Vintage)

Spritzing your leather shoes with a protector spray prevents expensive damages—like cracking and water stains—from becoming a nuisance. By keeping up with spray (and sometimes conditioner or polish), you’re saving yourself a financial headache down the road.

#4: You're not properly storing your bags


(Image credit: Collage Vintage)

There seems to be some debate about whether to keep your leather bags in dust bags and boxes (some believe it can dry out the leather), but coming from this author who lives in a tiny New York City apartment, storing my bags is the only way to prevent dust, accidental scuffs, and the like. Another common error is hanging your bags by the straps. This can cause them to stretch over time, so rest them in a relaxed position.

#5: You're not zipping your zippers before washing


(Image credit: Collage Vintage)

This may seem a little nitpicky, but believe it or not, forgetting to zip your zippers can pose a threat to other items in the wash because they can snag on the jagged edges. Make this two-second adjustment to wash your clothes with peace of mind.

#6: You're wearing the same bra too much


(Image credit: Collage Vintage)

It's a good idea to keep several bras in your rotation. Why? Negative Underwear founders recently told us this is because you’re supposed to give them “breathing room to readjust between wears.”

#7: You're using wire and plastic hangers


(Image credit: Collage Vintage)

Though we know it’s infinitely cheaper to stick your clothes on wire and plastic hangers, they can cause undesirable dents in your clothing. As an alternative, we suggest velvet or wooden options.

#8: You're putting intimates in the washer


(Image credit: Collage Vintage)

Though some washers do have a delicates cycle option, this author recently switched over to hand washing only (cold water with detergent in the sink), and it’s so much gentler on my bras and underwear. It also prevents lace from ripping and saves some pennies in the process.

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Nicole Kliest
Freelance Contributor

Nicole Kliest is a freelance writer and editor based in New York City who focuses on fashion, travel, food, wine, and pretty much anything else that's amusing to write about. After graduating from Pepperdine University with a bachelor's in journalism and creative writing, she started her career back in 2010 as Who What Wear's photo editor and throughout the last decade has contributed to publications including Fashionista, Harper's Bazaar, Elle, The Zoe Report, PopSugar, Fodor's Travel, and several others. She also copywrites and has worked with clients such as Frame, Sea, 3x1, Intelligentsia, and others to develop brand voices through storytelling and creative marketing. She's very passionate about the ways we can improve our sustainability efforts in the fashion industry as well as cultivating content that's diverse and inclusive of all people. When she's not checking out the latest restaurant opening in her West Village neighborhood or riding her bicycle along the West Side Highway, she can be found scheming her next trip somewhere around the world. (Up next is Vienna.)