New clothes are expensive and cause such a big dent in our fight for a cleaner planet. Let’s look at some ways to extend the life of your clothes and get the most out of all your garments!

Running Shoes and Sneakers

Rule #1 is always start with dry shoes and laces. This will allow you to brush off mud and debris easily. Next, remove the insoles and laces if possible. Begin to brush dirt off while dry, then move to a clean brush, dish soap and water. Scrub all the areas well but make sure not to damage any fabric, leather, or vinyl.

Feel free to scrub rigorously when addressing the base, using a bit of liquid laundry detergent or a specialty product of your choice if needed. You can also add a dab of baking soda to your solution to really remove stubborn scuff marks and nicks.

Then, when all the scrubbing is done, wipe down the entire shoe with a clean microfiber cloth dipped in water. Leaving your shoes in the sun can seriously damage them, so it’s always good to air dry. Soak the laces in a soapy solution, then rinse and air dry.

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Check to see if your shoes are machine washable. A care label or manufacturer’s website will tell you all you need to know! If so, remove laces and wash in cold water with regular detergent. Place laces in a delicates bag for washing if you have one. If they are particularly yucky, I’ll pre-treat them with a stain remover first. Never dry your shoes or sneakers in the dryer! When they are done with the wash, leave them out to air dry in a well ventilated spot.

Steaming, Ironing, and Wrinkle Reduction

Removing wrinkles is one way to keep your clothes looking fresh and new through many wears. This can happen at a few different stages during the wash and dry process:

  1. Don’t overload your machine – too much clothing forces the wet clothing to form creases while washing. The weight of the clothing and the fact that they are cramped and damp, sets the wrinkles early.
  2. Move your clothes over quickly – if they sit in a wet pile for too long they will smell and wrinkles will start to set in.
  3. Steam using a handheld steamer. These are great when you are in a pinch and need something de-wrinkled quickly! Try one with a sole plate so you can ‘fake iron’ too!

Read the Care Label!

Fabric care labels are you little recipe guide for how to wash your clothes. If you buy clothing that’s generally the same, e.g. lots of athleisure, lots of denim, lots of cotton tops…etc, you will have a good general sense of what you need to do to care for these items. But, there are little swerves now and then, which is why you really need to pay attention to that label!

If you’re garment has sequins, appliques, zippers, or leather, they will probably need to be washed differently. Some fabrics can’t be wet-washed! In fact, when I shop, I look at care labels and ask myself if I’m prepared to care for the garment. If it’s too much work, I usually just put it back and look for something with fewer cleaning needs.

If the label has one dot it means wash in cold, two means warm, and three means hot. Now, despite what these say, I almost always wash my clothes in cold water to prevent damage or shrinking. But these dots show you what ‘torture test’ the fabrics have been through.

A triangle symbol means bleach! Now, if you see an empty triangle, it means you CAN use bleach. If it is a triangle with an X, it means NO bleach. If it is a triangle with lines in it it means bleach alternative only. Which frankly, to me, means no bleach. Remember, bleach lives in the no-take-back zone, you can’t unbleach something. So, be careful with it and make sure to read your care label!

An empty circle means dry clean, and a circle with an x means no dry-clean. I like to print a paper with all the symbols with their names and leave it in the laundry room. This way, I’m always prepared for any garment cleaning needs that arise!

Laundry Best Practices

Washing your clothes in cold water will keep them looking newer for longer and it’s much better for the environment! Almost 70% of carbon footprint when doing laundry is driven by which water temperature you choose when washing.

Picking cold instead of hot reduces the energy in-use by 90% and moving from warm to cold reduces it by 70%. A huge difference for such an easy switch! We do more then 30 billion loads of laundry per year in North America and a change to cold water for each of us adds up to a big impact on global energy consumption.

Stain Removal

  • Always flatten and dry a stain, and treat is as quickly as you can!
  • Use an enzyme-based stain remover for protein stains, and remember, they do not like the heat!
  • Use an oxygen-based bleach for colored stains, soaking overnight if needed.
  • For smaller stains, dab on dish liquid or a bit of laundry detergent, then launder as usual.
  • Detergent makes a HUGE difference for stain and odor removal: budget detergents can be up to 80% water, which will leave clothing with stains and remaining odor. Look for premium formulas if you can and you’ll find you’ll have to do fewer loads of laundry in the end because you won’t have to re-wash anything.
  • In my experience, laundry detergent pods provide better cleaning. Make sure to add these to the drum BEFORE you put in your clothing, so they dissolve better and give a more thorough wash.

Now you have a whole host of new strategies to use when tackling your clothing and shoes! Remember, a little research goes a long way, so make sure to know your game-plan ahead of time. Clean better and stress less! See you next time!

For more laundry tips check out our article on the Best Laundry Products and don’t forget to check out our eBook Bundle which includes the eBooks, my 3 Wave Cleaning System, 50 DIY Recipes, and The Complete Guide to Essential oils, plus a cleaning checklist! It’s great value and it will help you take your cleaning to the next level!

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.


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