Would you have known? Washing, drying and ironing our clothes accounts for a (total of) about 36% of the total environmental impact caused by the average garment during its lifetime.
It would actually be quite easy to minimise one's ecological footprint if only a few minor facts were taken into account.
For example, we can help our planet as well as the contents of our wardrobes by washing our clothes less often, reducing the washing temperature, cut back on ironing and by avoiding the tumble dryer. And the best part of it? Our clothes stay just as clean as before.
With the following tips and tricks, we can reduce environmental damage and extend the lives of our favourite pieces at the same time. A real win-win situation. J
Tips & tricks for more sustainable washing:
#1 KEEP IT SIMPLE BUT MAKE IT WORTHILE – wash less frequently and fully load the washing machine
Often clothes are washed even though they are not dirty. In most cases, airing and brushing your clothes is more than enough. By washing less often, we get the chance to accumulate a good amount of clothes for each wash cycle, so the load really pays off. For guidance, a washing machine is full when we are able to put a clenched fist into the washing drum without having to push the clothes down. In addition, washing less often saves time and creates a routine that makes everyday life immensely easier.
#2 STAY COOL – lower washing temperature
At Rocket Science, we always label our garments with the highest permitted standard washing temperature. But modern washing powders work just as well at lower temperatures, such as 30°C, so a higher temperature is rarely needed.
To illustrate, here is the CO₂ footprint of a load of laundry:
· 0.6 kg CO₂ washed at 30°C, air-dried
· 0.7 kg CO₂ washed at 40°C, air-dried
· 2.4 kg CO₂ washed at 40°C, tumble dried
· 3.3 kg CO₂ washed at 60°C, dried in a washer dryer
However, we recommend that heavily soiled clothing and underwear should always be washed at the maximum temperature as indicated. Also, clothes should never be washed at temperatures hotter than those indicated in the care instructions. In addition, energy-saving programs can be used - most modern washing machines have these settings.
#3 LESS IS MORE – adjust the amount of washing powder to the degree of soiling.
As a general rule, the softer the water hardness, the smaller the amount of detergent. You can find the dosage for the different degrees of water hardness compared to the contamination of your clothing on the packet of your detergent. So remember: overdosing on detergent does not necessarily make your clothes cleaner. As with so many things, the same applies here: Less is more. ;-)
#4 DRY ME A RIVER! – hands off the tumble dryer
Generally, we should let our laundry air dry, as tumble dryers and drying cabinets waste a lot of energy. To reduce drying time, clothes can be spun again briefly before they come out of the washing machine.
#5 GREENER CLEANER! – use a more environmentally friendly detergent
There are plenty environmentally friendly detergents and other cleaning products on the market that are free of optical bleaches and phosphates, which can have negative effects on the environment as soon as they end up in waste water.