How we wash and care for our clothes has an impact on both the environment and how long our clothes will last.
Simple changes to the way we do our laundry can have a positive impact.
Does it really need washing?
It may be tempting to throw things in the laundry basket, but it’s worth considering if your clothes are actually dirty. As well as cutting down on energy consumption and detergents, reducing the number of times an item is washed can help keep it in good condition and make it last longer. Consider airing as a simple way to refresh garments, or spot cleaning for small marks.
Reduce the temperature
Most clothes will wash well at 30 degrees. Turning down the heat setting reduces the cost and saves on CO2 emissions.
An 8kg load of washing will result in approx 590g of CO2e if washed at 60 degrees, but only 330g of CO2e if the same load is washed at 30 degrees.Mike Burners Lee as quoted in Ethical Consumer Magazine issue 191
Choose your detergent carefully
There are a whole range of eco friendly detergents on the market. These are some things to consider when deciding which to buy :
- Packaging. Reduce and reuse is better than recycle. Ideally, opt for a detergent that can be refilled.
- Look out for the nasties: phosphates and petrol-chemical based compounds. Eco friendly detergents reduce the amount of harmful chemicals being released into the environment.
- Watch out for brands owned by large parent companies.1 Even though the product itself may be environmentally friendly, the profits made from your purchase may be going to fund a company with a poor environmental record.
We’re aware that some ecofriendly options can be quite expensive. We’ve recently started stocking the EcoEgg in our Paisley High Street Shop, which we think offers really good value for money along with excellent eco-credentials. It contains no harmful chemicals, is kind to your skin and cleans clothes at a low temperature. The “egg” contains natural mineral pellets which replace detergent and softener, and which last for between 60 – 70 washes. You only need to buy the egg once. Pellets are available to purchase as a refill, which helps to reduce packaging waste.
Though not possible every day in Scotland, drying your clothes outside is the cheapest and most environmentally friendly option. A tumble drier is more expensive and also, over time, will damage your clothes. If you are drying clothes inside aim to invest in as large a clothes airer as you have space for, to allow plenty of space around damp clothes – this will help things to dry more quickly. Always hang clothes to dry in a well ventilated room.
Learn to care for your clothes
Some simple habits can help to keep your clothes in good condition.
- Pre-wash soaking can help remove stains without having to resort to harsher chemicals.
- Before you wash, close zips, connect hooks and buttons and make sure velcro is attached and closed so that your clothes don’t get snagged and damaged.
- Turning your clothes inside out will help prevent fading and pilling on the outside of your garment.
For more great ideas to help care for special fabrics and garments such as lace, beaded garments, woollens, silks and velvet, and how to deal with stubborn stains head to the Love Your Clothes website.
What do to with stains that can’t be shifted
Nothing lasts for ever. Watch out for our upcoming blogs on how to upcycle stained and faded clothing and turn them back into garments you’ll love to wear.
1 Ecover and Method are owned by multinational company SC Johnson. SC Johnson continue to use triclosan, phthalates and parabens in some of their branded products and the company has failed to set any targets for reducing its environmental impact. SC Johnson are donors to the US Republican Party. Source : The Ethical Consumer.