5 Ways to Prolong the Life Span of Your Clothes Without Spending a Dime

We love Mother Earth and fashion. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive, which is why for Earth Day, 100% of the products featured in editorial stories published today will be eco-friendly.

It's way too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that in order to improve your closet and start dressing better, you have to go on a crazy shopping spree and buy a whole new wardrobe. First, you wake up one day and think I have nothing to wear, then you actually start believing it, and before you know it, you're 15 pages deep into an online shopping rabbit hole. (Not speaking from experience here or anything…)

If that scenario sounds at all familiar, you'll find the following closet hacks from designer Maggie Hewitt of the It girl–beloved brand Maggie Marilyn particularly useful—I know I did. I had long been a fan of Marilyn's laid-back, playful collections, but chatting with her in person, I really began to understand how knowledgeable she is about sustainability. Curious to know more about her insider tips, I asked her to share her insights on how to make clothes last longer—without much effort or cost.

"I have learned so much from my team about caring for my clothes," she shared. "I used to always use the dryer, as I was so time poor and always in a rush, but it's amazing what the sun, less laundering, and only using natural products can do for the life span of your garments. It's truly life-changing!"

Inspired yet? Keep reading to find why taking good care of your closet is just as important for the health of our planet as it is for your wallet, discover Hewitt's top closet hacks, and shop pieces from Maggie Marilyn along the way.

What personally motivates you to use the tips you've suggested here?

In the last 20 years, global clothing purchasing has drastically increased, while the life span of clothing is decreasing just as fast; this is crazy. Mending and caring for our clothes to extend their life span is one of the best ways to combat the fast-fashion disaster and keep a few more pennies in your wallet.

Why is sustainability important when it comes to the clothes you already own, too?

I think knowing that the simple act of buying less and holding on to what you have is an important contribution to the future of our planet. We have to stop this out-with-the-old-and-in-with-the-new culture. Cherish your wardrobe. Love that outfit you wore to graduation, to your first job interview, your first promotion, or the first time you said "I love you." Let what you wore on a good day empower you through a tough one.

#1: Let the sun do the work for you

"I really think the sun is our greatest natural detergent. The ultraviolet rays kill bacteria. Leave your clothes that smell in the sun for a few hours and they will be as good as new."

#2: Stick your jeans in the freezer

Wait, you want me to do what? Hear me out. For all those raw-denim and vintage jeans you own, washing them will only wear them down and stretch them out faster, and you should really avoid putting them in the dryer. Instead, Marilyn told me that simply placing them in the freezer will clean and disinfect them all the same since the intense cold actually kills off bacteria—simply fold them up and place them in a zip-top bag overnight. Of course, if there are stains to deal with, washing them may be inevitable.

#3: Replace your detergents

"Choose hand-washing or spot-cleaning over machine-washing, as it will preserve your clothes for longer," she adds. "Get rid of your synthetic detergents, and replace them with a home mixture of vinegar, and add a couple of drops of essential oils. This will soften the fabric and leave your clothes smelling amazing."

[Ed. note: As for what kind of essentials oils to use, tee tree, lime, eucalyptus, lavender, cedarwood, and sage are all recommended.]

#4: Consider getting rid of your dryer

"Get rid of your tumble dryer! It's ruining your clothes and only adding to the power bill. Put your drying rack in a sunny spot in your house."

#5: Pick up a needle and some thread

"Mending makes things last longer. Don't get rid of a shirt because you've lost the buttons or throw out your knits that have a few holes. Learning to sew a button on or darn a hole is super simple; there are a lot of YouTube videos to guide you."