Our eco friendly laundry tips will save time, money, and the planet, too!
Stella McCartney famously said that she rarely washes her clothes. While some may have thought ‘ew’ and others may have wondered if she just wears a new outfit every day, I personally thought that was great. I mean, do we really need to wash clothing after just a few wears ( socks and underpants excepted, of course!)
I also wondered: is Stella alone in her habits?
What the Brits think about laundry
To find out, I checked out a survey by appliance makers Bosch. They asked 2,000 Brits to air the UK’s dirty laundry and find out just how often the public are putting a load on. What they discovered was quite surprising:
- Men are more likely than women to feel self-conscious about wearing a top more than once
- 58% of Brits have no problem with other people re-wearing items multiple days in a row
- 27% of Brits say they consider the environment when doing their laundry
- Despite this, 18% of those surveyed sill admit to putting the washing machine on, even if it’s not even half full
- More men than women admit to using underwear twice before washing
- Almost 25% revealed they feel pressure from society to wash their clothing after 1 wear
There’s no easy way to spin it. It seems social pressure is causing us to wash clothes more frequently than is necessary, resulting in potentially avoidable environmental impacts.
While it may sometimes feel like we’re up against a never ending stream of laundry, we can all make a conscious effort to reduce the amount of relatively fresh items creeping their way into the washer. In fact, everyone can limit their washing impact in some way!
Not sure how? Our eco friendly laundry tips can help! It’s easier than you think, and will end up saving you loads of time. And ultimately, it will help you save money spent on energy and soap, too!
Our 7 Best Green Laundry Tips
1. Don’t put the machine on unless it’s full
Carbonfootprint.com estimates that putting on the washing machine produces 51 kg of CO2 a year. And that’s whether the machine is full or not!
Save energy by minimising the number of times you put the machine on – the fuller, the better! Ensure you ask everyone in your household for their dirty laundry before you press the ON button.
Only have a few items that you want clean asap? Wash them by hand (see below).
2. Wash your intimates and delicates by hand
If you want to kill two birds with one stone, you can wash your underwear while taking a shower. This is an especially great idea if you tend to wear delicate, lacy underwear that’s going to be destroyed by the washing machine anyway.
It’s easy to do, and no need to bring laundry detergent with you – just use a bit of shampoo!
3. Only use biodegradable soap/detergent
If you switch to a natural, plant-based liquid detergent, you’ll find that it’s just as effective as chemical based ones. The only difference? It bio-degrades when it reaches the waterways, thus avoiding all the hazardous effects that chemical detergents have on aquatic life.
But be careful with your selection! There are some so-called ‘natural’ detergents that have a few plant based ingredients and may include loads of chemicals or palm oil (which is bad for animals and the planet). Always check the ingredient list before you buy!
Some excellent options for biodegradable detergents can be ECOS, Sun & Earth, and Seventh Generation.
Even better? Try making your own! We’ve got some great DIY laundry soap recipes.
4. Never use a dryer
Did you know an electric dryer produces 159 kg of CO2 a year from just 148 uses? And guess what? Your clothes can air dry just as easily. Hang them on a rack indoors, or even better, on your balcony or in the garden if you are able to.
The benefits of letting them dry out in the sun are incredible! The sun not only dries, but disinfects your clothes from bacteria. In fact, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oregon’s Biology and the Built Environment Center says he was surprised by the way UV light keep bacteria levels low.
In addition to saving energy, there are other benefits from air drying:
- you’ll preserve the colour and quality of your clothing
- elastics and fabrics like Lycra will last longer
- you’ll avoid static cling
- your sweaters won’t pill
- you’ll avoid creating electrosmog pollution in your house
- you’ll avoid polluting your home with VOC (volatile organic compound) pollution associated with the chemicals found in fabric softeners
This is definitely the easiest of all the eco laundry tips! There’s really no excuse for using a dryer anymore.
5. Use a filter for plastic micro-particles in the wash
Other kinds of damage that can be inflicted on the planet with every wash is the diffusion of micro-plastics. Over 60% of clothing that comes from fast fashion is now made from polyester, a fabric that sheds tiny strands of plastic every time it is washed.
According to Greenpeace, one item of clothing can release 700,000 fibres in a single laundry load. And a new IUCN report states that 30% of ocean plastic pollution comes from microplastics, which water treatment plants cannot filter out, meaning fish and other animals (including we humans) end up absorbing them. Even so-called eco-swimwear brands shed these nasty plastics!
The solution is to capture these hideous microscopic plastics with filters, like these ones we recommend.
But the best solution? Don’t buy clothing made out of recycled plastics, polyester, nylon or acrylic. Or if you do, wash it way, way less!
6. Wash everything in colder water
Most families consume a whopping 179 kWh of energy washing laundry every year. And 90% of that energy goes into heating the water up.
Choosing cooler temperatures is a way better option, since a wash cycle at 20°C consumes around 70% less electricity than one at 60°C.
Fortunately, modern machines nowadays also calculate the right setting for your load, thereby maximising efficiency. Newer machines are also sometimes equipped with eco-systems for heating your water, such as a low carbon, gas condensing boiler or a solar-heated water supply.
Even so, more energy efficient models often use more water and washing machines are still responsible for 10% of water use in the average household. Even the most water efficient machines will use around 6 litres per kilogram.
Minimise your cleaning impact by using a shorter wash in colder water. You’ll be surprised at just how clean your clothes will come out, and actually, colder water helps preserve both the colour and textile quality of your garments.
Do you have any eco friendly laundry tips of your own? Let us know in the comments, below!