How to care for your winter clothes so that they last you a lifetime

In partnership with Vanish

(Image credit: Getty)

Winter is here... we’ve said bye bye to lightweight summer fabrics and hello to heavy knits, cosy cashmere and sumptuous velvets. We’ve had to dig out our favourite sweaters and hunt for those thick tights buried at the back of the wardrobe. Whilst it can be tempting to hit the shops in search of some new pieces to add to your wardrobe, this year why not set yourself a challenge and see what you can create using existing pieces in your wardrobe.

According to research, “clothing production is the third biggest manufacturing industry after the automotive and technology industries. Textile production contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined.” Take yourself out of this cycle by re-wearing and re-styling items you already own. Roll necks teamed with button up shirts were spied all over the runways whilst timeless classics such as wool skirts and tailored trousers will work winter after winter. With a little bit of careful planning and TLC, your winter wardrobe can last a lifetime. Here are the tips and tricks to adopt now, to make your cold day wardrobe work to the max.

Separate Textiles

Whilst it may be quicker, avoid chucking different textiles in the same washing load. Instead, divvy them up by materials and group hard surfaces with soft surfaces e.g. jeans with a denim jacket or a silk dress with silk underwear. This will prevent friction during the washing process and protect items from getting damaged. 

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Wise Up On Wool 

Lanolin found naturally in wool is a waxy substance that helps to keep sheep dry. It’s also antibacterial and odor eliminating which means you don’t need to wash it regularly. To reduce the amount of washing needed even further, try wearing a lightweight long sleeve top underneath it. To remove stains dab Vanish Oxi Advanced Multi Power Gel directly onto the item and leave to soak for up to 10 minutes. After soaking, wash in the machine with a suitable wool detergent plus a 50ml dose of Vanish Gel. This will also remove any odours and keep colours bright. For wool make sure the temperature is no higher than 30 degrees celsius. Never place woolen pieces in the tumble dryer. Instead, lay it out flat on a clean towel to dry. 

Make Winter Whites Last Longer 

Between avoiding muddy puddles and hot chocolate spills, wearing white during winter could be considered a full time job. Then there’s the task of trying to ensure winter whites retain their icy brightness. Whilst, you may think using a bleach based product will help, this can in fact cause yellowing. Instead, try the Vanish Oxi Advance Crystal White Gel which doesn’t contain any chlorine bleach and can be used on wool. Simply, add to your washing load and enjoy brilliant whites once again.

Invest In A Guppy Bag 

Everytime we wash synthetic materials, tiny microfibres are released in the washing machine water which in turn make their way into our rivers, lakes and oceans. There is also friction between items caused during the process which can damage more delicate pieces. To reduce this, try using a washing bag such as Guppyfriend. This helps to filter the microfibers shed from clothing during the washing process and is scientifically proven to help reduce microplastic pollution. 

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Use The Tumble Dryer Sparingly 

One of the main risks of putting clothing in a tumble dryer is the risk of items shirking. To avoid this use a clothesline in summer and drying rack in winter. This is particularly important for items such as gym gear, underwear and denim as these tend to contain elastane which breaks down easily under heat causing items to lose their shape. 

Make Sure Your Storage System Is Slick 

Rather than hanging woolen jumpers, try folding them. This will prevent them from stretching and becoming droopy. For items that do need to be hung such as blazers, buy some padded hangers rather than the cheaper wire versions. This will help keep shoulders intact. Store delicate items in breathable canvas garment bags. Never keep items in cold or damp rooms such as a basement or bathroom which could have mould spores. 

Manage Moths 

Moths are one of the biggest causes of damage to clothing in the UK. When the larvae which eat clothing are first hatched they are only about a millimetre long so are impossible to see. On average they take 3 to 9 months to mature which is a lot of clothes munching. To prevent them from entering your wardrobe in the first instant, place any new vintage or second hand purchases in a plastic bag in the freezer for a few days to kill off any potential lavrare. It’s also important to never put grubby or food stained clothing back in your wardrobe. It’s better to even leave it on the “floordrobe” until you have time to wash it as even the tiniest of food particles will attract moths. Finally, give your wardrobe a proper clean bi-annually. Take everything out and hoover it. Then line the drawers with lavender scented paper and place mothballs in dark corners.

Take Extra Care With Cashmere 

Cashmere is best hand-washed or placed inside a pillowcase then popped in the machine on a cold wash. To dry, place it on a clean towel in a warm room. To extend its life cycle even further, store in a special sweater bag. 

Banish Bobbling 

Pilling or bobbling tends to happen when the fibres in fabrics including wool and cashmere break down, separate and then reform together into tiny little balls. Regular combing will gently pick up stray bobbles. Try a comb from cashmere experts N. Peal or Lucy Nagle. Fashion editors also rave about Steamery’s fabric shaver. Featuring three precision-made razor blades it’s highly effective at removing bobbles, threads and even fuzz from your favorite items. For cotton items that do need washing, turn each item inside out, then pop a bottle of Vanish Miracle Serum in the machine with them. By acting as a fabric bobble remover, it helps revive colours plus banishes loose threads and removes stains, all in one wash. Simply load up your washing machine with a max of six garments. Add one full bottle of Vanish Miracle. Run an eco cycle for more than 2 hours, do not exceed 40 degrees celsius and voila, bobble free items. 

Freeze Denim 

In order to extend the life cycle of jeans, some denim obsessives claim that they should never be washed. However, what do you do if you’ve worn your favorite pair on a particularly sweaty night out or stood around a barbeque or bonfire? Try popping them in a plastic bag, then placing them in the freezer. Twenty four hours later, any whiffy odours should have disappeared.

Grace Warn

Grace Warn is the at Commercial Producer & Writer Marie Claire UK. From organising cover shoots and uncovering the latest news to creating social content, she loves the fact that no one day is the same!

Growing up just outside of London, Grace made the leap at 16 and started to intern. Juggling education, earning money, styling, producing and organising numerous fashion cupboards was as intoxicating as it was challenging and it's what's brought her here today.

After graduating in the pandemic, the only option was to take on as many freelance roles as possible. From demystifying health jargon to keeping up with the latest footwear drops, a strange concoction of health and footwear journalism became Grace's bread and butter but she always wanted a break in lifestyle journalism and production. Then she landed her dream role!

When she's not racing to deadlines, Grace can be found on anything that could pass as a dancefloor dancing to Diana Ross or scouting out vintage sales on the outskirts out South London - believe it or not, Beckenham is the place to go!