Culture Sustainable Fashion How to Make Your Clothes Last Longer By Ilana Strauss Yale University University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Ilana Strauss is a journalist who began writing for the Treehugger family in 2015. Her work has been featured in The Atlantic, The Cut, New York Magazine, and other publications. our editorial process Ilana Strauss Updated November 16, 2018 ©. Evgeny Atamanenko/Shutterstock Share Twitter Pinterest Email Culture History Travel Sustainable Fashion Art & Media Holidays Community Anyone can make use of this free, eco-friendly laundry tip.H&M; gets criticized all the time for making cheap clothes that people have to throw away after a few uses. But I have an H&M; shirt that's lasted for years. In fact, my clothes rarely wear down. Most of the time, I get rid of them when I undergo a fashion rebirth, or spill something and wind up with a stain beyond repair. That's because I have the secret to keeping clothes in good shape for years: don't wash them. Much. I have friends who wash every single item of clothing they wear every day. Some make exceptions — wearing jeans a couple times, or going easy on sweaters. But the truth is, you don't need to wash clothes unless they get dirty or smelly — meaning you can actually see the dirt or smell the odor. As far as secrets go, this is a pretty open one. I met a German girl who told me that, where she's from, people only wash socks and underwear regularly. I've got a feeling people in the past and in other countries took this as common knowledge. And I'm sure a lot of Treehuggers are already on the ball on this one. But for some reason, many modern Americans are obsessed with washing their clothes. According to one (admittedly small and possibly biased) survey, the average American does 4-5 loads of laundry a week. I have no idea why we're so terrified of dirt, so I'm going to guess it has something to do with a laundry detergent propaganda campaign in the 60s. Actually, Citylab found Americans didn't start doing laundry even once a week until the 19th century. "Before then, clothes were often made of rugged material like wool, leather, or felt, and were hard to wash," writes Citylab. "Dirty shirt? Shake it off!" I know, I know. Some people are convinced re-wearing clothes is gross. But to all you bra-wearers out there, I inquire: how often do you wash your bras? Yeah, that's what I thought. Washing destroys clothes and uses energy and water. By all means, wash your dirty socks and underwear, and everything else that needs it. But leave the rest alone.