When you think of sustainability, washing clothes is one of the last things you would expect has an impact. Unfortunately, it does. There are small changes you can make to the way you wash your clothes and what you do after they are washed which will make a difference.
Switching to a green laundry detergent will have a positive impact on us, our clothes and the ecosystems where the dirty water ends up. Normal detergents tend to contain phosphates, and these cause algal blooms that harm ecosystems and marine life where the waste water reaches. As you can guess, the alternative is to look for products that are phosphate-free or made from plant-based materials. Produced from seeds from certain trees, products with soap nuts in are also a preferred substitute for normal detergents.
Fabric softeners are also a culprit in preventing washing our clothes from being a sustainable practice. Arguably, one of the strangest replacements for fabric softener is a cup of white vinegar. Vinegar naturally balances out the pH of soap, meaning clothes will be soft and no harmful chemicals will be left behind.
Have you ever considered putting your clothing out to dry rather than shoving them in a dryer? You might want to start considering it, as it conserves the energy that would be used if you were to dry them. Moreover, making this change will also benefit the durability of your clothing. Hanging your clothing out is a gentler method and stops the dryer from ruining the fabrics — it can cause seams to tear and parts of the item, such as buttons, zips and other embellishments, to come away.
You will be saving money by not having to replace items as frequently, but also by making cuts to your energy bill. In most households, the dryer is the third highest energy-consuming appliance after the fridge and the washing machine. Why would you unnecessarily use your dryer when there are sustainable alternatives available?
Aftercare is just as important as the washing process, so it is key that you do not stop after replacing your detergent and cutting out the use of your dryer. Ironing your clothes is causing more damage than you realise. Alike to your dryer, it consumes energy and causes the quality of the fabric to deteriorate.
Hanging up your clothes as soon as they have been washed will cause the majority of creases to flatten out. However, it is all about the way you store your clothes - if you hang them up or fold them neatly it will minimise your ironing pile in no time. Inevitably, some clothes will crease. If you stop your wash before the final spin cycle, the item will hold more water. The more water the item holds, the more that gravity will pull the creases out when it is hung up to dry.
Investing in sustainably-made clothing from ethical brands is great, but your efforts will be wasted if you are not willing to care for them. Not only will these changes benefit the environment, but the durability of your clothing too.