Being an owner of fashion brings great responsibilities: you have to take care of your beloved style-makers. Taking good care and maintaining your items will extend their lifetime, which is great and the most sustainable thing to do. In this post we go a little further by offering you some laundry tips that will help you make a change by not only cleaning your clothes, but also the environment. 🙂
Depending on your machine, a laundromat uses on average 50 liters of water per wash cycle. Saving water is not so difficult though! The following tips can help you with this:
- The most common tip: use the eco-button on your machine, if there is one.
- Don’t wash your clothes. Now this may sound a little disgusting, so let me explain. A lot of people automatically toss clothing in the laundry at the end of the day. However, washing your clothes really damages the fabric. Be hard and judge your clothes. If it is just a little smelly, instead of washing it, you could air out your clothes. This will take away (most of) the smells. You could also -according to several major jeans manufacturers- put your clothes in the freezer overnight, to kill bacteria. To be frank, I am not quite sure about this one, because other sources state that the freezer will just put those bacteria to sleep. In any case, remember that most bacteria are not bad at all and we actually need them. The same goes for the ones in your clothes, so just airing them out will do.
Ever wondered what must be in the detergent that makes the colour of the detergent so flashy? Or ever read the list of ingredients and not know one? Well, we send that through the drains and put it on our skins. Ieks!
- First of all, you could start with using less detergent than the amount advised on the packaging. The amount of detergent advised is actually just a marketing trick to make you use (and buy) more, while your laundry will get clean with a lot less detergent. Don’t fool yourself and use less detergent!
- Even better would be to switch to an eco-detergent. There are plenty of eco brands that just do as a sufficient job. Personally, I am a big fan of ‘Seepje’ (or Eco-nuts in other countries), which is a detergent based on peelings from the Sapindus tree in Nepal. Bringing them in contact with water of any temperature makes them create a natural soap. I find it very comforting knowing that I will not harm nature this way, as the detergent is biodegradable and Seepje will take care of the forest. Moreover my skin, the largest organ of the body, will not be put in contact with chemicals all day. Seepje also works as softener too, which will eventually even save you money! Other eco-brands are: ECOS, Eco-me, Ecover, Klok . But just Google ‘eco detergent’ and you will get many brands!
- Like I just mentioned, I don’t use softener anymore, because those peelings already soften my laundry. If you decide to use something else and need softener, consider washing balls. These balls are covered in bumps that will soften your laundry. It is said that new tennis balls will work too. Or just don’t use softener at all! It is really just a luxury product and Florien didn’t even noticed any difference when she stopped using it. Will save you lots of money as well! Either way, your decision, but consider the alternatives.
The amount of energy usage differs per machine. However, it is commonly known that doing laundry and tumble drying uses a lot of energy. The following tips will help you in saving energy:
- Again, washing less is the ultimate solution.
- Dry tumbling your laundry will harm your clothes more than only washing them. It will also make the fabric stiff because of limestone that hits the clothes. For soft fabrics, I highly recommend to hang the laundry (towels is a different story, but we are talking clothes). Bonus tip: hanging light coloured clothes out in the sun will lighten them up and even remove tough tomato stains. Sounds crazy right? Therefore we tried it and can say with all certainty that it works!
- Turn down the temperature. About 90% of the energy used is associated with heating up the water. And what for? For regular laundry it is not necessary to use steaming hot water, but 20 or 30 degrees Celsius will just work as fine. For some it will be a mindset to switch, but the information of various sources is clear: hot water does not do better laundry compared to cold water. In fact, according to Philip Tierno, a professor of microbiology and pathology at the New York University School of Medicine, to kill the bacteria in your clothes, you need to wash your laundry at 150 degrees Celsius. If not, the germs will survive and jump on to the next load of laundry. A better way of getting rid of the germs and dirt says prof. Tierno, is using bleach or another kind of disinfectant once in awhile (not with coloured clothing!) or line hanging the laundry outside and in the sun. The sun’s ultraviolet light has disinfecting properties. On the other hand, putting clothes in direct sunlight might cause discoloration. However, unless someone in your household is really sick, there isn’t much to worry about. And if that is the case, you could use the tumble dryer once to kill bacteria with heat, or line hang in direct sunlight.
That was quite some information so let me wrap it up for you. Do your laundry on low temperatures with a natural detergent, preferably use no softener, and line hang it in wind and shadow (to prevent discoloring) or in the sun to bleach white or light coloured clothes. This way you contribute to positive change to the world and even save some money! How simple can it be?