If you’re a style-conscious guy, you might spend a good amount of time (and money) searching for something as seemingly simple as a white t-shirt, obsessing over details like sleeve length and collar width. But are you doing enough to keep your favorite tees lasting as long as they could? Bad news: if you’re hanging your t-shirts on hangers, you’re not. Fortunately, there are a lot of easy, affordable ways to take care of t-shirts, jeans, dress shirts, suits, sneakers and dress shoes and ensure they last a long time. Many of the best clothing care tips are not only better for your clothing, but they’re also better for your wallet and the environment.
Many people store their clothes with cheap wire hangers from the dry cleaner or basic plastic ones bought in bulk. And for some items, that’s fine, but for more delicate (t-shirts, sweaters) or expensive (suits) items, you’ll want to store them in a way that won’t damage the shoulders or cause the garment to stretch out.
Suits should be hung on quality hangers with wide enough shoulders that maintain the shape of the jacket. This is the place to invest in a quality wood hanger that’s specifically designed for your suit. If you’re like most people, and only wear your suits on special occasions, then it’s a good idea to also keep your suit in a garment bag to keep it safe and dust-free between wears.
Because t-shirts and sweaters are less structured than shirts and jackets, they’re more susceptible to getting stretched in the shoulders by a hanger, which can leave unsightly bumps on the shoulders. In fact, the effect of gravity on a t-shirt or sweater that’s hung from a hanger causes the shoulders and the entire garment to stretch out, which is why it’s best to skip hangers entirely. If your closet has accessible shelving, you can use these to store your sweaters neatly folded. You can also create space by investing in a hanging cubby, which has the added benefit of saving space by allowing you to store far more t-shirts than you could on hangers.
Button-down shirts and casual jackets are more structured than t-shirts and sweaters, which is why it’s okay to use hangers for these items. That said, you might want to treat your fancy Charvet shirt with a little more care than you might, say, your Levis denim snap shirt. For the average button-down shirt, a felt hanger will be a space-saving alternative to bulky wooden hangers, which you might want to use on your nicer dress shirts.
Dress pants are best stored folded hanging over the lower bar of a hanger to preserve creases and pleats. Casual jeans and chinos can be folded or hung — they’re less delicate, so you don’t need to be too precious with them. As neat as a uniform collection of hangers might look, it’s somewhat impractical, which is why it’s worth having a mix of wooden hangers, felt hangers and basic plastic hangers to meet the needs of each kind of item in your closet.
How to Clean Your Clothes
The good news about cleaning your clothes is that the best way to do it is also the most friendly to the environment and your wallet. You can save energy, money and your clothing by washing cold and skipping the dryer. Washing cold and line drying uses less energy than washing hot and machine drying, and your clothes will also last longer and not be misshapen. When using detergent, you don’t actually need to fill it up to the line, either — too much detergent can be bad for your clothes.
Hang dry your shirts and pants, and lay sweaters flat on a drying rack. It’s tedious, but it’ll keep your sweaters from getting stretched out. Hang drying immediately after washing will typically keep wrinkles away, too. Hung button-down shirts should keep their shape, while any creases in folded T-shirts should come out easily by simply shaking them out. Hanging that day’s outfit in the bathroom while you shower in the morning can help you loosen any small wrinkles. Keep a lint roller handy to keep your clothes looking good.
As for which detergent to use, many denim heads swear by Woolite Dark for maintaining their jeans. Gentle detergents are good for those with sensitive skin, and they won’t leave that cloying smell some detergents have. Many delicate items can be hand-washed with a little detergent, which should typically be done in cool water. This even extends to some dry clean only items. But if you’re not willing to risk it, take it to the cleaners.
Looking for the easiest way to make your shoes last longer? Don’t wear the same ones every day. Giving your shoes — especially leather ones — ample time to air out will extend their longevity. Rotating is also less gross than stepping in the same sweaty shoes each morning. Sneakers are made to be easy, but leather and suede shoes require a little extra care.
Suede can be cleaned using a designated suede eraser, but you can even use a regular eraser (as long as you stick to white and avoid colored ones like pink erasers). A suede brush will also help loosen dust. Leather should be conditioned and then polished to give it that sleek look. At the end of the day, when you take your shoes off, it’s best to insert cedar trees into your shoes. These absorb moisture, helping to reduce odor, while also helping to maintain the shape of your shoes.
The Best Products for Storage
From wood hangers to sweater organizers, these are some of the best products that you can use to organize your clothes without damaging them. Most of our favorite products for cleaning, storing and maintaining your clothes are less than 20 bucks, but they have an outsized impact on the longevity of your clothes.
The Container Store 3-Compartment Hanging Sweater Organizer
While billed as a sweater organizer, this three-compartment hanging organizer from The Container Store also works great for t-shirts. The Container Store also has options with more compartments, and there are matching boxes that fit into the compartments.
Target Made By Design 24pk Wood Hanger
You don’t need to spend a lot on hangers — these hangers from Target are made from wood and steel and are a great way to organize more delicate items like dress shirts. The hangers are available in natural brown or black.
IKEA BUMERANG Shoulder Shaper
These super cheap hanger accessories are a great alternative to buying designated suit hangers. You can turn any regular hanger into a suit hanger by adding this shoulder shaper, which helps fill out the shape of the shoulders of more delicate items.
The Best Products for Cleaning
Washing cold and hang drying is the best way to take care of most items, but finding space to air dry your clothes can be challenging. These clothes dryers are a great way to hang your clothes indoors, and you can easily fold them up when not in use.
Whitmor Garment Drying Rack
This garment drying tripod from Whitmor has legs and arms that can be folded in, and the two halves of the rack can be separated for easy storage when not in use. It’s not the most beautiful drying rack, but the fact that it’s collapsible makes it easy to store out of sight when not in use.
SALT Compact Accordion Dryer Rack in White
This dryer rack can be used for, socks, underwear, towels and any item that you don’t want to put in the dryer. The top of the rack can be used as a place to lay sweaters to dry.
Woolite Darks is popular with denim heads (yes, you do have to wash your jeans). It can be used for any dark items to help shrinkage, fading and stretching.
The Best Products for Shoe Care
Caring for your footwear doesn’t have to be too difficult, and a few affordable products can improve the longevity of your shoes while also making them look fresh.
Nordstrom Rack Shoe Trees
Some people have a designated pair of shoe trees for each pair of shoes. That’s frankly a little extreme, and you can make do with one or two pairs to insert in the shoes you wore that day. They come in wood or plastic, but wood is the best option because it does a better job absorbing moisture while producing a pleasant woody aroma. These wooden shoe trees from Nordstrom Rack have a large wood heel to help maintain the shape of the heel counter, and the metal spring in the middle allows these trees to fit into different shoes.
KIWI Shoe Polish, Neutral
Kiwi is one of the best affordable brands for shoe care products, and this basic shoe polish comes in a neutral color that allows you to get an appealing shine on shoes of any color. It’s especially handy for gray leather shoes or leather shoes in unconventional colors because it can be hard to find customized polish for those shoes.
Jason Markk Essential Shoe Care Kit
Sneakers may have started out as a casual shoe for athletic wear, meant to be worn and beaten up, but it’s no secret that today’s sneakerheads will go to great lengths to keep their shoes fresh. Jason Markk’s products were formulated with sneaker care in mind. A natural spray and brush are included in this kit.