Doing your laundry may seem like a simple, almost dull task for some and a joy for others. Who doesn’t love to have line-dried, crisply folded clean sheets? But this household task uses around 50-100 litres of water per wash according to Cambridge Water. Not to mention the energy used to power your washing machine and, dare we say it, tumble dryer. It’s not until you really begin to understand the impact that doing your laundry has on the environment that it becomes obvious that we should find ways to do better. Here, we list a few tips for taking a more sustainable approach to your chores, reducing your impact on the environment and on your skin.
Wear it more than once. So simple but so effective. More often than not we clean our clothes too often and in most cases it’s after only one use. Cut back on water, electricity and your bills by taking a step back to think if your outer garments really need washing or if they can go for another wear. Revive the art of airing them, as your grandmother would have done. Some clothes that may need dry cleaning could infact be aired outdoors to refresh.
Use more considerate cleaning products. Water waste from your washing machine eventually ends up in the ocean meaning the cleaning products and detergents that are used will wash up in the ocean too. Add to this studies as reported in the Independent, that show that there has also been an increase in the number of people suffering with skin sensitivities from laundry liquids and detergents and you have good reasons to switch to a biodegradable, naturally scented version.
If your laundry liquid has been certified by one of the organic certification boards they with have ensured all ingredients are biodegradable, leaving less of a ‘water mark’ on the environment. This mix of ingredients may also benefit people with sensitive skin, avoiding the fragrance and detergents may help those with outbreaks of eczema and other topical skin conditions – the laundry liquid from The Gentle Label was created to solve these two problems. Certified by the Soil Association, it avoids the synthetic ingredients and is made with Soapwort, scented with Rosemary and Lavender and contains Aloe Vera, it’s particularly good for those with sensitive skin and leaves your laundry smelling and feeling fresh.
Hand wash Items. Try hand washing more of your items with Dr Bronner Pure Castile Liquid Soap. Not only will this show you how much water is used to wash one item but if you double up your shower with a quick wash of some of your clothes it’s two tasks in one and you save water at the same time.
Hang to dry. Avoid the use of tumble dryers and air-dry your clothes instead. In the summer months there is nothing better than the warm, summer air to dry your clothes and bedding, leaving them feeling crisp, fresh and clean.
Don’t wash your jeans. Did you know the head of Levi Strauss didn’t wash his jeans for a whole year? If you can’t wait that long why not try to go at least 10 wears before you wash them, increasing the amount of wears each time.
Turn down the heat. Go cool or cold with your laundry wash – most of the energy use is in the heating of the water. Same for irons, they use up a large amount of energy so avoid them where you can. Instead hang shirts and dresses onto hangers direct from the washing machine. For dry, crinkled clothes, steam them out whilst you have a shower for as long as they need.
Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov
Read more: How Brands Get Soil Association Certified