- Have designated play clothes. When I was a kid, I’d come home from school and change into what my mom called, “play clothes.” While my kids are supposed to change out of their school uniform if they’re going to be playing outside or doing something messy, I admit that I don’t keep on top of this rule. They also will wear anything and everything on the weekends, when sometimes they are running around on the grass with nicer clothes that really shouldn’t get grass-stained. Keeping several pairs of jeans and tshirts or sweatshirts available for playing-outside days makes sense, and will keep the rest of their stuff looking nicer.
- An ounce of prevention…. Here’s a tip from one of my friends whose hand-me-downs the rest of us covet: Every single day, go through the outfit that your child wore that day and use a stain-removing spray or stick on it. This helps prevent the stain from hanging around even after it’s been laundered. While you’re at it, check the pockets of every item; my kids are notorious for putting crayons, chapstick, lizards, rocks and heaven-knows-what-else in their pockets!
- Use good laundry practices. After you’ve stain-sticked the clothing, don’t let them sit around for days. Try to do laundry every couple of days, and be sure to use the right water temperature for the fabric. Sort your darks and lights to avoid having lighter clothes turn dingy; don’t wash jeans with light-colored shirts, for example. Use a good-quality laundry detergent. I used to use a cheaper brand but now buy Tide, and I really can see and feel the difference. I always use my dryer, but you could hang the clothes out to help preserve them; just keep them out of direct sunlight to prevent fading.
- If you are using a dryer, set the timer’s buzzer so that you can remove the clothing while it’s still warm. Shake out each item and fold and hang right away if you can. This reduces wrinkles. If you can’t get to it right away, you can always set the dryer to the “wrinkle-remover” setting or just run it on low for 10 minutes or so; this will iron out most clothing to an acceptable level without you having to resort to the bane of busy moms everywhere, the iron!
I’ve been trying to take better care of my kids’ clothing so that they can wear them as long as they still fit, and also so I can hand down used items to friends, nieces and nephews. Do you have any clothes-saving laundering tips to share with our readers?