Be revolutionary and love your clothes

Be revolutionary and love your clothes: beginner and advanced tips on how to care for your clothes.

As another Fashion Revolution week (19th-25th April 2021) is approaching, I keep thinking about what it means to be revolutionary. 

Chances are if you’re reading this blog, you probably feel like the fashion industry desperately needs a revolution. If you do feel this way, I fully agree with you.

Yet, revolutions aren’t some grand events, even though history books like to teach us this way. Revolutions truly happen in small, daily habits and acts. It is there, in our daily routines, where structures and systems are created and re-created. Revolutions also don’t have to mean new ideas. Sometimes, they mean refusing (relatively) new ideas too.

You might see where I’m going with this. This is the reason why I believe in the power of our clothes. Clothes are something we all experience daily and have in common. 

Today, I’d like to propose the idea that the way you treat your clothes can, in fact, be a revolutionary practice.

I’ll explain, no worries.

Photo by Fred Moon

Where is the revolution?

Let me be clear on something first before continuing. I am not saying that the whole responsibility of changing or revolutionising fashion is on us, people who buy the clothes. That is, at the very least, an unfair thing to say.

I will never stop demanding big brands to take serious steps and abandon the exploitative practices, stop the human rights abuse, and irresponsible sourcing. The same goes for demanding the governments to remember that their role is to protect the citizens and not to put them in danger. What it means is asking the policymakers to prioritise making regulations that will make it harder for businesses to profit from human and environmental exploitation, instead of encouraging that. These are important, we need a structural change.

But I would argue that our daily actions matter. When we talk about moving towards sustainable fashion, we talk a lot about how we buy. We discuss buying less (always a first step, remember!), buying more second-hand, as well as buying from better brands. I do believe that is important. Still, focusing on our buying practices limits us to the role of consumers. We should understand that we are much more than that. Each one of us is also a maker, potential educator, and influencer. Our little habits are the fabric of the (fashion) culture. And right now, the culture that values speed, greed, and trends, is not doing anybody good. Being aware of how we support or oppose that culture in our small, mundane actions can have a big effect on normalising values other than those I just mentioned.

I’ll put it this way. 

Our fast-fashion culture might be relatively new, historically speaking, but it’s a strong one. We live in a world where clothes are almost disposable, worth only until they are purchased. The fashion industry, driven by profit over anything, demands to always make and sell more. In such a world, making the most use of what we have, and loving our clothes is rebellious

By choosing to care for our clothes instead of looking to consume more, we send a strong signal (and may inspire others) that we want a different world. Adopting some of the practices that I’ll get to shortly, means creating new habits and routines, that can enforce the fashion and culture which is more sustainable for everyone.

 So, ready to be a rebel this year?

Here are beginner and advanced tips on how to care for your clothes. Most of these you can implement right now!

 

Washing makes all the difference

By now, you probably heard of some tips before but I’ll make sure you hear them again. The way you wash your clothes has a big impact on the environment but also the longevity of the clothes. The following practices will save energy and water (which will reflect on your utility bills too). Moreover, they will also preserve the colours and shapes of clothes, making them last longer.

- Wash less (on average, we can wear most of our clothes 5 or more times before washing)

- Lower the washing temperature: most clothes can be washed at 30°C

- When washing, leave some room in the drum, to reduce friction and potential fabric damage

- Instead of washing your jeans, air them overnight or even put them in a freezer to remove odours

- Go for gentle and natural washing detergents, which are much kinder to your clothes (and water systems)

- Skip the fabric softener: they actually don’t help with odours and are full of toxic stuff

- Try spot cleaning instead of washing a whole thing

 

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The air power

Similar to washing, you can save energy (and therefore money), as well as preserve the clothes if you dry the clothes better. Generally, the main tip here is, if you can, to avoid drying machines. 

- Air-dry the clothes: it’s free and better for clothes

- Air out clothes between the washes: it will keep them fresh and remove some smells

- Get in a habit of hanging your activewear after working out, instead of piling them up

- If you’re using the dryer, try to use it less often and skip the drying sheets (instead, you can go for reusable drying balls)

- Reduce the dry cleaning: it takes effort, it’s expensive and it can damage the clothes. Not to mention, it’s also toxic, so avoid it unless really necessary

Fabric care pays off

Besides washing and drying clothes, other practices can extend the life of your clothes.

- Follow the care labels: they might look like annoying tags inside your clothes but they will tell you if there’s anything to pay attention to. And just so you know, the indicated washing temperature is usually the maximum temperature of washing, not the recommended one

- Iron less: most clothes don’t actually need ironing, so save yourself the time and effort

- If you have some wrinkled clothes, try bringing them with you to the bathroom: hang them while taking a shower and let the steam do the magic

- Prepare clothes for washing: make sure to remove things from pockets and wash your clothes inside-out to preserve the colours and (especially) prints

- Store clothes correctly: hang shirts on a hanger and fold heavy things, like jumpers, to preserve the shape and fabrics

- Try storing your clothes with some dry lavender to keep the moths away

- Mend, repair, and upcycle your clothes before getting rid of them

- When buying new clothes: opt for high-quality clothes that are going to last longer

Take an extra step: Reduce the microfibers

All clothes shed microfibers. When clothes are made from synthetic materials, like polyester or nylon (even if recycled), they shed microplastics. When we wash clothes, microplastics end up in our water systems and oceans. The good news is that already by implementing some basic tips, like washing and drying your clothes better, significantly reduces the number of microfibers released. 

If you want to do even more, here are some advanced tips:

- Many washing detergents and softeners actually contain plastic. As mentioned above, you can skip the softener, and go for naturally made detergents. But you can go a step further and use some detergent alternatives, like detergent drops, stripes, or soap nuts. However, be wary of the detergent nuts (or eco-nuts). There might be some ethical concerns because of their increased consumption and popularity, though there are currently no studies to back it up. 

- If you want to give it a go, you can also make your own detergent. All you really need are soap flakes and soda crystals.

- In case you aren’t quite ready to give up on softener, try using one part water and one part white vinegar instead. It does a great job for me!

- Finally, you can catch the microplastics with a laundry bag, made especially for this purpose. If you’re looking for such a bag, check out our PLASTIKINI bag

How are you being revolutionary? Share your best clothes-caring tips with us

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