We’re aware that the environmental impact of an item of clothing doesn’t end after it is made. As consumers, we share a big part of the responsibility. As part of trying to be a more conscious consumer, we should consider how we care for our clothes and adopt more eco-friendly ways of washing, drying and caring for our garments to make them last longer and to reduce our environmental impact.
Here are CARMA’s top tips to care for your clothes more sustainably.
1. Completely Fill Up Your Washing Machine: Try and avoid putting a wash on until you have a full load of washing. If possible, chose the eco-program setting on your machine as this will also help your clothes maintain their shape and colour longer. You should also turn your clothes inside out before washing, this helps keep the exterior of your clothing looking newer and reduces fading and wear and tear of the fabric. It is also means you are washing the part of your clothing that is closest to your body and therefore helps reduce odours.
2. Wear Clothes More Than Once: Where possible, try and get more than one wear out of your clothes before washing. You can prolong the use of your clothes between washes by hanging your clothes out after use to air and freshen with some natural deodoriser.
3. Dial Down The Temperature: A common misconception is that you need to wash at a higher temperature in order to kill off bacteria on clothing, however in reality bacteria is not completely reduced even at a 60C wash so there is no reason to wash your clothes at this high temperature. It’s also worth noting that most good quality washing machines clean clothes just as effectively on a lower temperature.
4. Cold Wash Where Possible: Even better then washing at a low temperature is to wash your clothes on a cold wash. Did you know that 90% of a Washing Machine’s power is used just to heat the water? This means only 10% of power usage is to actually used to wash your clothes. That are a lot of power savings to be made without having to sacrifice clean clothes. Using the cold wash function will save you money, it's better for the environment and it means your clothes are less likely to fade or bleed colours into each other.
5. Choose Liquid Detergent: Buy liquid detergent rather than powder. Liquid detergent dissolves more easily and is less harsh on clothing.
6. Only Use What You Need: Use washing detergent as per the packet instructions. Your clothes won’t be any cleaner because you use more detergent, it’s just a waste of resources.
7. Choose Natural & Eco-Friendly Washing Detergents: Many detergents contain toxic and harmful ingredients like chlorine, colorants, synthetic parabens, perfumes, phosphates, petrochemicals and sulfates. These chemicals can be absorbed by the skin via the clothes we wear and cause unnecessary harm. Instead, try and purchase detergents made with natural and organic ingredients - we love Fill, ecover, Bio-D, Eco Zone, Living Naturally and Kinn who all offer fantastic cost effective and eco-friendly laundry detergents.
8. Use Baking Soda: Adding a small scoop of natural baking soda in with your detergent helps to clean, deodorise and brighten up your clothes without the need for optical brighteners or harsh chemicals.
9. Don’t Use Fabric Softener: Consider if you really need to use fabric softener? Fabric softener contains many toxic, hormone disturbing chemicals, including harsh perfumes and plastic particles, that are completely unnecessary. Instead, you can use distilled white vinegar which works as a fabric softener - add about a ¼ cup to the final rinse cycle of your wash. This will help to decrease the number of chemicals in your home.
10. Air Dry Where Possible: Our final tip is to air dry as much as you possibly can. This is easy to do during the summer months and during the winter you can hang your clothes indoors near a radiator when you have your heating on. This is not only better for the environment, it will help to prolong the lifespan of your clothes as constant tumble drying can wear garments out. It also helps to reduce your energy bills and save money!
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