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Our Tips to Greener Laundry, Part 1

Our guide to green after care of your clothing.

We often focus on the environmental impact of producing clothing, but we felt it was time to draw attention to the fact that so much of our personal carbon footprint also comes with the after-care of our clothes. Here we give you some of our favourite tips on greening up the care of your clothes so we can all preserve our wardrobes a little longer.

CARE AND LAUNDRY TIPS

• Line dry your clothes when possible.

The dryer is one of the most inefficient energy users in any household. It produces about 1.7 kgs of carbon dioxide emissions each time it gets used. Cutting back on the use of this could save a significant amount of energy, as well preserve the lifetime of your clothing, as the heat and tumble drying effect are also harsh on our items of clothing.

• Wash your clothes at cold temperatures.

This will also help your clothes maintain their colour and shape as the lower temperatures have more of a gentle impact on our clothing. It is also much better for the environment. About 90 percent of the energy used by a washing machine comes from warming up the machine. Turning the temperature down will save a great deal of energy. Using a lower temperature has no effect on clothes, other than being beneficial, so this is a great way of prolonging the lifetime of each piece you own too.

• Use eco laundry detergent.

Regular laundry detergent often contains nasty and harsh chemicals that don’t all get washed out of your clothes during the rinse cycle. These chemicals stay in your clothes and can start to effect your skin. Apart from the health risks associated with this, the wastewater from detergent also pollutes the environment. Sewage water runs into the sea and affects plants and animals that don’t have the ability to adjust to the unnatural substances. Eco detergents are made from natural products that are biodegradable, and will therefore not harm the environment. Another plus is that it is softer on your clothes because of the lack of chemicals.

• Use less detergent.

As mentioned before, regular detergent is not good for your clothes, the environment or your skin. Many people are also guilty of using too much detergent per wash load. The issue with this is that it can leave residue on your clothes and it can be detrimental for the colours of the fabrics. It is also better for your machine to use less detergent. So for the longevity of your clothes and machine, it is better to make sure you are using just the amount you need per wash.

• Don’t do laundry too often.

Something we wouldn’t mind at all: doing less laundry. If something isn’t completely in need of a wash, you should consider putting it back in the closet and wearing it again, instead of throwing it in the laundry immediately. Even the most energy efficient washing machine uses about 40 gallons of water every time. If you wash fewer, full loads of laundry, instead of an increased number of half-full loads, you’ll not only save on energy and water, but also money. Up  to 99 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions could be saved per household every year by ensuring that only full loads of laundry are done.

• Hand-wash your clothes as often as you can.

It sounds old fashioned, but washing your clothes by hand is actually very good for your clothes. Machines have a general cycle that might not be perfect for certain pieces. By hand-washing your clothes, you can give every piece the individual care it needs. Hand-washing puts the fate of clothes in your own hands! You choose the temperature and roughness of handling the clothes for each separate piece. There is less chance of shrinkage and damage to the fabrics. Other advantages to hand-washing clothes are the fact that it needs much less water than a washing machine and that it doesn’t need any electricity.

• Don’t iron if you don’t have to.

Ironing costs energy and can damage certain fabrics. Hang clothes immediately after they come out of the washing machine. Most crinkles will come out thanks to gravity.

• Avoid using chlorine bleach.

Several types of laundry detergents have chlorine bleach in them. This chemical is harmful for the environment and it can also be harsh on your clothes and skin. If you want to bleach your clothes to make them look bright, take a look in your fridge. Lemons are a mild and natural fabric bleach, as well as making your clothes smell fresh. Just add half a cup of lemon juice to your laundry for a natural alternative.