I received a great email from reader Linda who brought up an important aspect of preparedness: clothing. If there is some kind of large scale collapse, manufacturing and shipping may be interrupted, and clothes will be come scarce.
During the Great Depression, many people could not afford store bought clothes and therefore had to make their own. Many had to trade items for materials or cloth, or used burlap sacks that chicken feed came in. Fortunately for them, they knew how to sew, but how many of us in the present time can make an actual outfit. I can sew a basic hem or reattach a button, but I can’t say I could make an article of clothing. The scarcity of clothes continued for many years; even during World War II, clothes and shoes were rationed along with other commodities such as fuel, coffee, tires, cheese, meat, etc. Clothes could be only during certain days, and by buying through the black market at steep prices.
Clothes will wear out and will need to be replaced, and kids will outgrow their clothes. Even if nothing happens, if you stock up on inexpensive clothes now, you will be glad to have them when prices are higher. Of course, fashion conscious folk will have to give up having the latest styles, but at that point, people would just be glad to have something to wear.
What you can do now
- Shop in your own closet and set aside a few pairs of jeans, sturdy clothing for your “bug-out” bag. Have a set for different seasons. Choose comfortable shoes as well.
- Give away or sell clothes and shoes you no longer use to make room.
- Go through your kids clothes and do the same thing. Sell or give away outgrown items.
- If you know families who have kids who are close in ages, set up a hand-me-down exchange.
- Visit Goodwill and other thrift stores and shop for clothes of varying sizes in anticipation of kids’ growth spurts. Take advantage of “buy one get one free” or “buy one get one at half off” days.
- If you have the room, keep a few clothes for barter.
- Buy classic styles that are well made and will look good for a long time.
- Have some repair materials on hand such sewing kit, zipper repair, sewing awl, (used to repair heavy duty items such as thick jackets, sleeping bags, tents etc) Shoe Goo, heel savers on hand.
- To get started, choose one skill that will help you create clothing in the future: sewing, crocheting, quilting or knitting are all good to know. Concentrate
- Take a free class at a sewing machine seller, or have a friend show you how.
- Stock up on materials by buying them on sale at discount stores or thrift stores.
Make your clothes and shoes last longer
- See Basic Shoe Care for tips on how to make your shoes last.
- Wash colors in cold water and 1/3 cup vinegar rinse. The vinegar sets the color and does not impart the vinegar smell.
- Turn clothes inside out before washing.
- If you have the room, line dry clothes. Drying in a clothes dryer wears them out faster-this is where lint comes from.
- Take care of stains right away. Hydrogen peroxide is a good stain remover for organic stains such as blood. Rubbing alcohol works well on ink and grass stains.
- Many items of clothing (except for underwear) really do not need to be washed after every wear. Unless you sweat heavily or live in a hot, humid climate year round, your clothes stay fairly clean wearing a couple of times between washes. Just hang them up to smooth out wrinkles.
- Stains and body oils attract moths and other bugs. Store only clean clothes – wash and dry all clothes prior to storing.
- Fold clothes properly as best you can.
- Plastic under the bed storage bins are good; space bags also work well for clothing.
- Toss a used dryer sheet to avoid musty odors.
- Store in clean, dry places. Moisture will cause mold and mildew to form and ruin the clothes.
- Use cedar hangers or cedar chips to repel moths. Mothballs not only smell bad, but they also contain harmful chemicals. Other natural moth repellants include lavander, rosemary, eucalyptus. In a future post, I will cover how to make how to make natural sachets that repel insects.
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