How to Make Clothes and Shoes Last Longer

Updated: Jul 14

Want to know how to make clothes and shoes last longer? In this blog, we reveal smart ways of extending the life of your wardrobe to help preserve the planet and your finances.

So, you’ve got the shoes, the suits, the accessories, and all the other wardrobe essentials to truly master your look. But that doesn’t mean your clothes and shoes will last for an eternity.

As a society, we’ve been more inclined to discard an item of clothing or a pair of shoes as soon as they need repairing or cleaning. In fact, in the UK, the average piece of clothing lasts only 2.2 years. However, by extending the life of clothing by just nine months, you can drastically reduce its environmental impact.

With this in mind, we’ve assembled a list of tips you can follow to make your clothes and shoes last for many years to come.

How to make your clothes last longer


The right way to wash your clothes to make them last

Washing your clothes in certain ways can help them last longer. For instance, you shouldn’t wash your smelly garments like your gym gear, underwear, and socks at a low temperature. This won’t remove the smell or stains (eek) effectively, and you’ll soon see a decrease in the quality of the clothing.

If you’re concerned that a higher temperature will ruin your underwear, wash it at a lower temperature, but add an antibacterial cleanser to leave them smelling fresh.

For jeans, always turn them inside out to prevent the colours from fading quickly. It’s also worth keeping your washing loads relatively light. By overloading it, your clothes crease more and you may experience unwanted clothing on clothing issues.

Another thing to consider when it comes to making your clothes last is the impact of dry cleaning. The heavy chemicals aren’t great for the fabric of your clothes – plus, the cost of the service will burn a hole in your back pocket too.

If possible, try cutting back on deep washes in favour of spot cleaning and hand washing. Hanging smelly clothing in the bathroom when you shower can (strangely) help them last longer and remove creases. Or soaking them in a bowl of lukewarm water and vodka at a ratio of 3:2 will remove any smells.

Drying and storing your clothes properly

An essential way of making your clothes last a lifetime, or at least a few more years, is to consider how you store them.

Don’t underestimate the importance of a good-quality clothes horse during the drying process. Ideally, you need one which offers ample drying room and has dedicated space to hang your top garments. We particularly like the Leifheit Telegant Protect36 Wall Mounted Clothes Airer from John Lewis & Partners.

You shouldn’t cut corners on hangers and wardrobe storage too. To make your clothing last and to preserve its quality, invest in wooden hangers, garment carriers/anti-moth bags, and airtight vacuum containers.

Clothes moths are a common thing in UK homes nowadays, with figures revealing a 60% increase in infestations from May 2014 to May 2018. As well as sealing your expensive garments in carriers/anti-moth bags, pop a lump of cedarwood in your wardrobe. Moths won’t go near it. As for wardrobe drawers, placing a piece of lavender-scented paper in it will have a similar impact as the cedarwood.

If you suspect that an item of clothing may have moth eggs in it, place it in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer for a couple of days to kill the eggs/larvae.

How to make your shoes last longer


The best way to clean your shoes

When it comes to making shoes last, there are certain things you can do or buy to ensure you prolong their lifespan.

Firstly, take a look at our seven-step guide on how to clean your leather shoes. It contains all the information you need to get your footwear looking spick and span. We even stock our own exclusive shoe polish to apply during the cleaning process.

If you have a pair of old, tired leather shoes, consider taking them to a cobbler. You’ll find a list of the best cobblers for shoe repair in the UK in our previous blog. Some even offer posting options.

Or if your leather shoes are just scuffed and scratched, there are ways you can remedy these problems yourself and extend how long your shoes last.

For example, using a pencil eraser or toothpaste can remove trapped materials in the leather. While conditioning and polishing the leather on a regular basis also minimises the significance of future scuffs/scratches.

Storage and prevention methods to make your shoes last

  • Steel heel protectors – after a lot of wear, you’ll notice one side of your heel will wear more quickly. Steel heel protectors can slow this process down and ensure you don’t have to replace the sole every few months.

  • Shoe trees – shoe trees are an inexpensive accessory to help maintain the structure, size, and shape of your shoes. They even prevent foot odour.

  • Shoe horns – a shoehorn can reduce the strain on the leather and fabric of the shoes, so you can get more wear out of them.

For more ways of how to make your shoes last, check out our previous post: ‘Repairing Shoes – 6 Ways to Extend Their Life’.

In the meantime, don't forget to invest in quality footwear and accessories from the Percy Stride shop.

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