Washing your clothes can have a big impact on the environment. Did you know that 25% of the carbon footprint of clothes comes from the way we care for them? That’s why it’s important to revisit your laundry habits when working on lowering our environmental footprint.

Lower the temperature

Whenever possible, wash your clothes in cold water, it often works as efficiently. It also means important environmental benefits – it saves energy, money and prolongs the life of the clothing itself. Make sure you read the washing instructions and keep in mind the advised washing temperature on the label is the maximum you can go, so try going lower and see how it affects your cleaning results. Washing clothes at high temperatures should be an exception, not a rule.

Wash your clothes less often

Looking at how often we do laundry, it’s no question that it’s everyday habits like these that damage our environment the most.
Waiting to have a full load before doing laundry is a good way to reduce the frequency of use, if you do have an item that can’t wait, how about washing it by hand?

You can also wear it more than once! Of course we don’t mean your undies or socks, but as long as it isn’t dirty, there is no law against it.

Remember that the laundry cycle is not only damaging to the environment, but also weakens the clothing fibers, shortening its lifespan more each time.

Tumble dryers? Nah…

Again, this method should be an exception and not the rule. By hanging your clothes to dry, outside or inside, you’ll not only save energy, but they get to keep their original shape and live much longer than they would being tumble dried every other week.
If you still do need to use it, make sure to keep lint filter clean, as that will increase efficiency and shorten drying time. Use moisture sensor on your dryer (if available), it turns off the machine once it senses the clothes are dry, meaning less wear and tear on the clothing fibers and less energy being used.

Go for concentrated detergents

Not only are they just as efficient, due to their reduced packaging, they use less space, less packing materials and less fuel when being transported, which all adds for a smaller carbon footprint in the bigger picture.

Be clever about how you care for fabrics

Although convenient, it may not be a great idea to throw all your laundry into the same load. In order to keep the quality of your garment for as long as possible and avoid accidents, keep in mind that different fabrics call for different care methods. Extending the life of our clothes by so much as 3 months mean a 5-10% reduction in the carbon, water and waste footprint. Now that’s some encouragement!

These videos from the Stella MCcartney’s Clevercare will get you started:
Denim care     /     Knitwear care     /     Tailoring care

You can find even more tips and information on this topic by checking out the Clevercare website, or downloading their educational brochure, which has tips and important information laid out in a more than clear way – you’ll never wash clothes the same!  You can download the brochure here.

June 03, 2021 — Abigail Bakker