When it comes to caring for your clothes – and the environment – how you look after them really does matter. There is no point in championing sustainable and beautiful fashion if you do not learn how to care of it.
Image - Nguan
The good news for you is that up to two-thirds of our clothes’ carbon footprint occurs after you take them home. Ultimately this means that a lot of the nasty pollutants in the fashion industry are in your hands to fix. The extra good news is that keeping up with the maintenance and sustaining the longevity of your clothes is not hard at all. Over a series of weeks we're presenting our guide on how to wash smart and take better care of your precious belongings, in turn saving planet earth one step at a time.
Rug Lane's Guide to Washing Your Beloved Clothes
Image – KB Illustration
Do you tend to throw all your clothes into the hamper after one wear and then chuck them in one big bundle into the machine, turning the dial to whichever temperature takes your fancy? You might even have that pungent detergent and softener you can't stand but got on sale? What about drying, are you the kind of person to throw the soaking load into the tumble dryer for as long as it takes to dry? If all your answers to the above are all a big fat guilty yes, it means it’s probably time for you to learn how to take better care of your clothes. You might not understand now how all these things may be bad for your clothes but in essence, caring less for your clothes, you can be damaging them, giving them a shorter life span than they deserve and throwing not only money down the drain but nasty toxic chemicals too! So, here’s what you need to know…
Step 1: Think before you wash
Image – Bodil Jane
Let’s be honest …washing is a pain in the ass and not something we wish to be doing during our precious free time. So, unless you have just left a smokey club and fallen into a puddle while holding a kebab, most of the time you really don’t need to do it…. hurray! The fact is how we wash our clothes not only has an impact on them but also our precious mother earth. Over washing and washing incorrectly damages our clothes, no matter how great the quality is and releases harmful chemicals into the environment while wasting precious energy. So, first things first, we need to re-think when our clothes even need to be thrown into the washing machine. If your clothes only smell a bit iffy, air them and then refresh by spritzing with a freshener. If it’s only dirty in one teeny place, exercise that spot cleaner. Brush those random cat hairs away and even shower with your delicates to save water and energy. Washing your clothes then taking them to a dry cleaner really should be your last, last option!
Step 2: Ways for better washing
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When your clothes really do need a wash, you need to take the time to understand your machine. Unless your washing machine comes with a foreign language manual it really isn’t that hard. After learning the ins and outs of your machine, spend the time to educate yourself on the fibres of your clothes before throwing them in. By coming to grips with the fibres and studying the symbols on the labels of your items you will know how to wash them correctly without ruining them. Ever thrown in a woollen jumper and it came out only to fit a barbie? Well temperature also matters, and the timing needs to be right, when you do the wash, set your machine to “cold” to save energy and help your clothes live a little longer (heat can break fibres down). Also, switching from hot water to cold or warm can help prevent 500 lbs of CO2 from entering the atmosphere every year. Think before you load and divide where needed, saving those white shirts from going dusty pink. Use the correct amount of detergent and don’t overuse softeners. A little goes a long way and you don’t want to come home and open the door to an avalanche of bubbles. Know what needs extra TLC, so occasionally skipping the washing machine all together and given a hand wash.
Step 3: All Natural
Stains are your clothes most persistent enemy. Without fast effective treatment, stains will set. Know what you are up against and ditch the nasty chemicals and go with a natural stain removers which will not only be good on your clothes but on your skin too. A few natural household ingredients and some simple steps will fight some common stains that can generally be problematic. And if it really is unsalvageable you can also naturally dye them. Here are some handy tips on how to beat stains naturally…
Red Wine Stains - Apply salt to the stain and lay over a bowl. Pour boiling water over the stain until it disappears and then wash as usual.
Dirt Stains - Gently brush off any loose dirt. Pre-treat with your normal laundry detergent, or if you use powdered detergent, add water and work it into the stain. Allow it to sit or throw it directly into the washing machine.
Ink Stains - Lay the garment on a clean cloth or piece of paper towel. Blot stain with alcohol and then rinse and wash as usual.
Blood Stains - Rinse stain with cold water. Rub a bar of white soap onto the stain. Work soap into stain vigorously, and rinse again with cold water, then wash as usual.
Sweat Stains - In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons cream of tartar, a few drops of lemon essential oil, and enough water to make a paste. Mix and spread the paste over the stain. Rub it in and allow to dry before washing. You can also use hydrogen peroxide for sweat stains. Pour or spray directly onto the stain and allow to soak for 30 minutes. Wash as usual.
When it comes to washing your clothes what detergent you use also matters. To keep your clothes, skin and the environment happy its always best to go with eco-friendly laundry detergents. Here is a list from Reviewed.com of the best eco-friendly laundry detergents on the market in 2018.
Step 4: Drying Techniques
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Drying your clothes naturally is the best way to go. Hanging your clothes up also makes you look super chic and Italian. Line drying your clothes rather than tumble drying them for just six months of out of the year can illuminate up to 700 pounds of greenhouse gases annually. If you don’t have a garden, it's easy to get an indoor drying rack and if you do need to tumble dry, then do so with care, not leaving them in long enough to singe and shrink.
Step 5: Wrinkle free
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Something that is an even a bigger pain in the ass than washing your clothes is ironing them. Here's some good news for you, you really don’t need to be chained to the ironing board every morning before work. Be more selective, your underpants really don’t need to be ironed neither do your jeans. By simply hanging your clothes up and drying flat, it can be just as effective as ironing. You can also steam them while you are in the shower for extra wrinkle freed clothes. If your clothes do need an iron, invest in a good one that won’t singe a hole through your clothes.
Isn’t it great to think that the next time you don’t do laundry in a while, you’re not being lazy you’re just being a super good human?! Think about washing smart to look sharp and enjoy a longer lasting wardrobe by caring more for your precious clothes!