Not only is washing your clothes in a good way beneficial to the clothes, but also to the planet! How we wash our clothes is the biggest difference in the impact we can do after we buy a product (except for keeping and wearing them longer). Taking care of your clothes in the best way possible means they last longer, and that means less need for buying new clothes and less clothes being sent off to landfill.
If you are like me, you have experienced what it feels like to take that cute white top out of the washing machine, only to realize it has become pink. Or realized that wool sweater you thought would be okay machine washing come out with holes in it. Well, no more!
Sometimes what is best for the garment can be the opposite of an eco-friendly laundry practice. That is the case for many delicate fabrics that might require dry cleaning (which uses heavy chemicals), but most of the time the two combine pretty well. So keep on reading for the tips and tricks of a sustainable laundry routine!
This is the first rule in the book. Most of us are washing just out of habit instead of assessing whether the item actually needs to be cleaned. If it doesn’t smell or is dirty, it’s fine for another wear (underpants not included). If there is just the odd stain but otherwise fine you should just spot clean it. If you want to freshen up the garment between washes either air them or spritz them with a clothing mist.
Wash in lower temps
If washing less is rule number one, decreasing the temperature is number two. Not only is this kinder to your clothes, but it also requires less energy as the water doesn’t need to be heated up as much. And you don’t have to worry, most detergents today work in low temperatures so make 30 degrees your new standard!
Tumble drying less and air drying more means less strain on the clothes and less energy used. Some items are best dried hanging and some laying flat. This is sometimes indicated on the label, but as a general rule, don’t hang knits. For delicate items like silk and wool you can lay them flat of a clean towel, then carefully roll it up to push out any excess water.
Fill it up
Fill up the washing machine as this saves on water and washes. Don’t wash only one pair of pants, but also don’t overload the washer. The clothes need to be able to circulate!
Wash similar colors
This might seem like an obvious thing to many, but after 8+ years of communal laundry rooms I can tell you that it is not. Or maybe it is obvious and people just don’t care enough. Either way, I advice you to not mix colors. You risk ending up with clothes coming out in a different shade or color and if that is not your intent, it’s not going to be fun.
Use laundry bags for delicates
Delicate items should always be in a laundry bag to protect them from ripping och tearing. I use laundry bags for any bras, for knits and silks (if I machine wash them). Many delicate natural fabrics can actually be washed by machine if you have a delicate or hand wash program, but it’s best to still put it in a bag first!
Use a Guppyfriend bag for synthetics
You might have heard that synthetic fabrics release micro-plastics when washed. Instead of throwing out all you polyester dresses (we don’t need more clothes in landfill!!) get yourself a Guppyfriend bag!
It’s a laundry bag that collects all the micro-plastics so you can throw them in the trash instead of them spilling out into the ocean.
Use an eco-friendly detergent
Also, be mindful that you might need a special detergent for more delicate items made of wool and silk. No matter if you wash them by hand or machine
Skip the softener
Softeners are not great for the fabric. In some fabrics it can even interfere with the properties of the fabric (like for workout clothes!). Both our health and the planet, especially the marine life, risks reacting negatively to fabric softeners, so it’s best to just skip it. White vinegar is often used instead of softener if you are looking for a replacement.
Do you have any more tips to add to the list?