Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Environmentally Friendly Ways to Care for Your Clothing

Clothing Care to Make Your
Outfits Last Forever

How many times have you had a shrunken jumper emerge from the dryer or a bright white top suddenly become a soft shade of pink?  It happens to us all! But the best way to make sure none of your other garments falls victim to your washing machine is to learn how to safely take care of your clothes. And there are many environmentally friendly ways to do

First of all, by decoding the clothing care label and understanding the best laundry detergent to use on a silk blouse, you can ensure that your clothes will last much longer.

Read on to find the best and easiest environmentally friendly ways to care for your clothes. 

Deciphering the Care Label

While it may look like a confusing list of strange symbols, the care label is pretty easy to understand once you know what each symbol means.

Basically, each symbol spells out how exactly to wash, dry, iron, or dry clean your favourite garment. They also let you know if bleach can be used or not. Each symbol is accompanied by a dot, line, cross or letter to let you know how hot the temperature can be, which spin cycle should be used and even how the dry cleaner should wash it. 

The symbols that appear on the care tag all depend on the fabric of your garment. Each fabric has its own individual characteristics when it comes to washing. Some fabrics can be thrown in the washing machine without care and some delicate fabrics, like silk, must be handled carefully to avoid shrinking or losing that glossy sheen. Read all about the sustainable properties of our favourite fabrics here.

As a general rule, most fabrics can be washed in the machine on cold, but always double-check that label! If in doubt, handwash in cold water.

Top Tip: Read the care label before you buy it so you know how to wash your new favourite top without worry.

Separate Lights from Darks

The last thing you want is for your favourite white tee to turn a murky grey colour after a spin in the machine. The best way to stop this from happening is to separate the lights from the darks before you wash, yes your parents were right back then!

Keeping things like tea towels and bath towels separate from your regular clothes is also a good idea. The texture of the towels may be too abrasive against your favourite cotton tee’s.

Top Tip: If you have something that is partial to stretching that you don’t have time to handwash, check the care label that it can be machine washed and then pop into a mesh garment bag with your regular wash. This can help them stop stretching during the spin cycle.

Avoid Microfibres

These tiny fibres are a not so great side effect of machine washing our synthetics clothes. Microfibres slip past the washing machine filter into our waterways and eventually into our oceans. Sadly, these fibres are then eaten by fish and tiny plankton. Gradually they make their way back up the food chain back to us. The best way to avoid these tiny pieces of plastic entering our oceans in the first place is to use a Cora Ball, Guppyfriend bag or a Microfibre filter. These handy devices help to catch the fibres before they enter the ocean.

Top Tip: Try using a lower spin cycle or a delicate wash to lessen the friction when washing synthetic fabrics to stop the fibres from shedding.

Wash Less

Release yourself from the loads of laundry! Washing our clothing less means they last longer and we get to wear them to more fabulous events. And it’s environmentally friendly way to be good to the planet as well. If you are a bit nervous about not washing each garment after wear and worried about any smells, pop it outside in the sunshine for a refresh between wears. 

Top Tip: Unlike underwear and clothing that sits close to your body, outerwear like coats and jackets don’t need to be washed after every wear.

Treat Stains On The Spot

Toothpaste all over your jumper before you walk out the door? Coffee dripping down your silk blouse? Accidents happen! But it’s best to treat these stains as soon as they happen to avoid making them worse. A quick Google of ‘stain + fabric type’ will help sort out any accidental spots. Most satins will set in hot water, so avoid plunging them under the hot water tap.

Top Tip: Carry a stain remover with you if you are the clumsy type. 

Check Your Washing Detergent

Your favourite washing powder may smell like a fresh summers day, but do you know what chemicals are lurking behind that scent? Is your laundry detergent environmentally friendly? Unfortunately, the washing powders and liquids sold on your typical supermarket shelf are full of nasty chemicals that can cause skin and throat irritations. Not something we want near our skin! Instead, try opting for a natural alternative such as refillable laundry detergent from The Dirt Company.

Top Tip: Skip the fabric softeners and try using vinegar or a touch of hair conditioner instead of an earth-friendly clean. 

Skip The Clothes Dryer

Environmentally friendly clothing care

Yes, your clothes might feel warm and fluffy after a spin in the dryer, but it’s not an eco-friendly way to dry your clothes. Not only does it cost you loads of money in energy and creates unnecessary carbon emissions, using a dryer can cause your garments to shrink if you aren’t careful. It’s better to hang your clothes out to dry, the sun is a natural bacteria killer and the wind will freshen your garments. Even if you have a small space, hang out what you can to save money.

Top Tip: Lay woollen garments flat to avoid them stretching.

Seek Out A Professional

Sometimes we just need help to remove a stubborn stain or correctly clean a silk dress, and that’s what those fabulous local dry cleaners are for. But make sure you pick an environmentally friendly one to avoid unneeded chemicals like solvents and bleaches on your clothes. Regular dry cleaning also leads to weaker fabric and dye bleeds, so use these services sparingly.

Top Tip: Don’t leave your precious garments on the flimsy wire hanger the dry cleaners give you. They can distort the shape of your dresses. Swap for a wooden hanger or padded one instead. Also, ask for no plastic, the environment doesn’t need any more of that and it can turn your garments mouldy.

Feature Image: @wantshowasyoung

Post by: Jenna Flood, The Slow Fashion Stylist

Sustainable Fashion Stylist

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