Inexpensive clothing is helpful for anyone on a tight budget, but many times the material can show the effects of tough laundry cycles earlier than usual. If you want to make that clothing continue to look good for a long time, check out some tips that will help you keep the clothes clean without clobbering them:
The Closer the Better
The instructions on the clothing label are pretty good for making the clothes last. They can be changed somewhat; clothes that need to be dry-cleaned can often be hand-washed, for example, or clothes that are supposed to be washed in warm water can be washed in hot or cold as is your preference. But the closer you stick to the label instructions, the better your clothes will look as time goes on.
Distilled white vinegar -- the same stuff in your salad dressing -- makes a great fabric softener. You don't need much; add the vinegar to a top-loader during the rinse cycle after the drum has filled partway with water. Front-loaders can be tricky, though; some manufacturers are fine with culinary vinegar being used, while others don't want it used because the mild acidity may have a gradual effect on the particular plastics and rubber hoses used in that brand's machines (the vinegar has to travel from a bay to the drum in front-loaders, whereas it's added directly to the water in a top-loader). Call your washing machine's manufacturer before using vinegar in a front-loader to ensure it's OK. If the manufacturer says no, use a sensitive-skin fabric softener that doesn't have harsh scents.
Steam Iron to the Rescue
For minor wrinkles in clothes, use a steam iron instead of a hot iron. Steam irons hold a small amount of water that heats up and produces steam, which relaxes clothing fibers without requiring you to run a plate of hot metal across the fabric. For a cheap version of a steam iron, hang the clothes in the bathroom for a few minutes after you've finished taking a hot shower that steamed up the room.
The less you wear the clothing, the less wear the clothing will experience. Try to change out of clothing you want to keep in good shape when you no longer need to wear the particular piece. In other words, if you wore a top to work and have just come home, with no plans to go out again that evening, change out of the top and wear a T-shirt or pajamas for the rest of the night instead. If the top doesn't seem like it needs to be washed yet (maybe you wore it for only a few hours and didn't do anything like sweat in it), hang it up neatly in an area where it can air out.
You can always ask the seller from whom you bought the clothes if they have any additional advice. They will be more familiar with how that particular brand tends to stand up to regular laundry exposure. Contact a company like Simple Addiction to learn more.