1. Iron clothing inside out. “Ironing can fade dark colors as well as create shine marks on fabrics with sheen, like gabardine, acetate, and polished cottons,” says Chris Allsbrooks, a textile analyst with the Dry Cleaning & Laundry Institute, in Laurel, Maryland. Avoid damage by using the appropriate heat setting and pressing the item on the reverse side. Or use a cloth between garment and iron. And, adds Boorstein, “never iron a crease on a black garment―it can leave a permanent line.”
2. Add sole protectors to your shoes. Have a cobbler attach rubber bottoms to shield leather soles from water absorption and general wear and tear. They cost about $20, but “they can extend the life of your shoes by years,” says Jim McFarland, owner of McFarland’s Shoes and Repair, in Lakeland, Florida.
3. Switch to wool athletic socks. Wool socks aren’t only for cold days. “A lesser-known benefit of wool is that it can help keep sneaker interiors stink-free, thanks to its natural ability to wick moisture away,” says Rodney Kott, Ph.D., a sheep specialist at Montana State University, in Bozeman.
4. Remove all jewelry before swimming. The chlorine in pool water wears away the surface and the shine, according to Krodel.
5. Zip up to avert snags. Your clothing goes into the wash perfectly intact. Later you notice a mysterious pull. “The teeth of zippers (especially those made of metal, as on jeans) or any kind of hook closure is typically the culprit,” says Boorstein. Next time close all zippers and clasps before tossing clothes into the washing machine (or, better yet, the hamper).
6. Hand wash cashmere. Repeated poor-quality dry cleanings can lead to fiber breakage. Plus, an old-fashioned hand washing leaves the cashmere considerably softer. Use lukewarm water and a mild soap, such as the Laundress Wool & Cashmere Shampoo, and lay flat to dry. Remove excess water by rolling the garment in a towel―never wring it.
7. Don’t drive in good heels. “The floorboard scuffs the heel, and the pedal scratches the toe,” warns Elena R. Aronson, a San Francisco–based stylist and personal shopper. Drive in simple flats, or try heel protectors by Smart Heel, which are plastic coverings that slide over high heels.
8. Stock up on underarm shields. To prevent armpit stains that crop up no matter how diligent you are about cleaning, Mary Lou Andre, author of Ready to Wear: An Expert’s Guide to Choosing and Using Your Wardrobe, suggests creating a barrier between you and the fabric with adhesive underarm shields, which attach to the inside of the clothing. A sleeved tee layered underneath works, too.
9. Never hang pearls. “This weakens the silk threads that hold the necklace together,” says Helena Krodel of the Jewelry Information Center, in New York City.
10. Launder whites after every wear. It’s tempting to put a white blouse back into the closet after a spill-free wearing. After all, it looks spotless. But “body oils and perspiration, along with other time-released stains (like perfume, white wine, and oil splatters), will start to give a once-bright white a yellowish tint,” says Steve Boorstein, developer of the DVD Clothing Care.
Find more tips to help your wardrobe last go to Real Simple.