Although it may not seem like it, the use of your clothes has a high impact on our environment. Think of all the times you’ve done your laundry and how much water and energy that must have cost. And how often you’ve had to throw away clothes because the stains wouldn’t come off. Or like me, somehow being able to shrink and throw away several woollen, cotton and viscose items before I found out that a hand wash might be the best washing method for delicate materials… There are so many habits we have when it comes to washing, wearing and treating our clothes that are often unnecessary. In this post I want to help you break your routines and change your perspective towards washing and caring for your clothes for the better. If you really care for your clothes and our planet, please read on.
Why do we wash our clothes? Because we think they’re dirty? Or because of the fresh smell laundered clothing gives? There are many reasons to wash clothes. Some wash clothes after wearing it for half a day and some continue to wear it for a week. It shouldn’t matter, should it? Everyone can decide for themselves how often they want to wash their clothes. True. However, when we wash our clothes, we contribute to pollution in our waterways, burn fossil fuels and create CO2 emissions. The more often you wash your clothes, the bigger your contribution is. I completely understand that you want to wash your underwear at 40 degrees Celsius after wearing it for a long and sweaty day. However, other items such as jeans, sweaters and skirts for instance, don’t have to be washed that often. Washing often is effort, energy and water wasted and deteriorates your clothes. Especially with materials such as denim. And you don’t want your 100 euro Levi’s to fade right?
When was the last time you washed your clothing on a cold temperature? I never did. I didn’t even know that was an option, since I always followed the washing advice on the tags in textiles. And they always suggest to wash either on 30, 40, 60 (sheets) degrees Celsius or by hand. Not too long ago I had read and heard from a few that washing cold was a more sustainable option. Of the total energy use and greenhouse-gas emissions produced by a single load of laundry, approximately 75% of it comes from warming the water itself. But just like many others I assume, I was worried that my clothes would not clean properly if I did not wash them warm. However, not too long ago, a colleague of mine gave me a very simple answer to that. ‘’Do bacteria die when you wash your clothes on 30 or 40 degrees Celsius?’’ she asked. Recalling my classes biology (or was it chemistry? Not my strongest subjects as you can see ha ha), I remembered bacteria only grew around that temperature. Which basically means it makes no difference if you wash warm or cold. However, there are some things to consider when you wash your clothes cold and want them to come out clean. The Laundry Goddess offers some practical tips:
Personally, I have found that you can wash everything in cold water successfully, as long as you follow a few basic rules: Only use liquid detergent, as most powders need warm water to completely dissolve and clean successfully. Use the proper amount of detergent – too little and your wash load will not come clean, and too much will leave a soapy residue behind on your wash.
Instead of using detergents filled with chemicals, there are plenty natural detergents available nowadays. A brand that offers this is Dutch brand Seepje. Their detergents are made from the peels of the Sapindus mukorossi fruit that comes from trees growing in the Himalaya region. When the peels come into contact with water, it turns into a natural soap. Amazing right? Click here to read more about Seepje and visit their online store here.
Treating and Repairing
Don’t you hate it when you see your favourite sweater slowly deteriorating and just know you are going to stop wearing it soon because it won’t look good? Like mentioned above, you can slow down this process by not washing too often, washing cold and even better, washing by hand. If that all didn’t work out and it is already too late, it is not the end of the world. Holes for instance, can easily be repaired by re-stitching or patches. When I was a kid, patches were really uncool. I remember that my mom wanted to buy them with me to cover a tear in my jeans or something and I refused to let her buy them. Nowadays however, you see them everywhere and not only to cover holes like back in the days.
My mom was the first person to introduce me to a Fuzz-Off comb lint remover. For the ones that have never heard about a lint remover, it removes the pilling on textiles that are often made from wool. Pilling is a natural effect and cannot be avoided. Only slowed down with the right care.
Now that I am older and have many sweaters and skirts made from wool, I am so happy to have an electrical lint remover. It makes removing lint fun and much less time consuming. To my surprise, there are only a few people that know about electrical lint remover. When I use it, people still look at it as if I just turned water to wine.
What did I have to do again?
- Wash less!
- Always read the care instructions in your clothes. This way you will enjoy your clothing for a longer time and will save you many heartbreaks.
- Start washing with natural detergents.
- Wash cold more often.
- Repair instead of throwing away.
To end of with: love your clothes and enjoy them as much as possible. Treat them as if they are your babies. Nope not kidding. Be nice to them 😉