Why washing is harmful. And what to do with it

How many times a week do you run your washing machine? Many of us do this 3-5 times a week, and some do it every day. What could be simpler – he threw his things, filled up the powder and went about his business. And then he took out clothes with “frosty freshness.”

But here’s a fact that few people know about: washing accounts for more than 75% of the environmental damage that clothes cause over a full life cycle – from fabric production to recycling. By washing, we harm both our clothes and the planet, and ultimately ourselves.

Here are some thought-provoking facts from The Zero Waste Wardrobe.

Washing spoils clothes

Drumming, bleaching, drying aging clothes. Fibers lose color, become thinner, deformed, things lose their shape and shrink – and now we are ready to take them to the landfill. As a result, millions of items are being scrapped prematurely.

We waste water and energy

Washing is resource intensive. In a typical household, it accounts for up to 20% of total household water consumption. Washing machines are energy intensive, with 90% of this energy used to heat the water.

We pollute the environment with chemicals

You will find numerous menacing chemical names like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) on the packaging of laundry detergents and conditioners – their effects on nature are just as scary. These chemicals are washed into water bodies along with wastewater and are retained in clothes, which means they come into contact with the skin.

Dry cleaning is toxic

Traditional dry cleaning has a significant impact on the environment, and at the same time damages clothes. Most often, perchlorethylene (PERC) is used for it, which is dangerous to nature, and therefore threatens human health.

What to do?

Of course, wearing dirty clothes is not an option. Washing is necessary. You just need to treat her a little more consciously – and know that this is not the only way to take care of clothes. Here’s what you can do to reduce harm.

Wash less often

There is nothing easier than stretching the intervals between machine washes. The benefits are clear: the less often you wash, the more time and money you save. Plus, you use less energy, water and environmentally damaging detergents. And by washing your clothes less often, you reduce overall wear and tear. So, we can say, both you and your clothes come out dry from the water.

Remove stains safely

There is nothing more annoying than planting a stain on brand new or freshly washed clothes. Instead of starting a full wash, simply treat the stained surface with a stain remover. Your sweater will be back on track much faster, without unnecessary waste of water, energy and detergents.

Food or blood stains are most common. They must be washed off immediately with cold water and detergent, as the hot water will fix the contamination. But oily stains – say, from hand cream and eggs – are best treated with a special product, and then rinsed off with hot water. Finally, traces of liquids and food must not be rubbed – they must be soaked, soaked and soaked (gently!). And if you intend to immediately throw the stained clothes into the washing machine, take your time and pre-treat the stain.

Let nature deal with stains

Common dirt and odors can be removed with the simplest and cheapest natural ingredients your kitchen will surely have. Baking soda, white wine vinegar, mineral water, and lemon juice are all good stain removers.

Here’s how to make your own stain remover.

  1. Prepare a solution of 1 part baking soda and 3 parts water.
  2. Take a brush – an old toothbrush or a nail brush – soak it in the solution, rub the stain gently and leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Dip the item into an empty bucket and fill it with hot water on top. Make sure that the temperature is not higher than that recommended for the type of fabric.
  4. Leave to soak for about 1 hour or 30 minutes for delicate fabrics.
  5. Machine wash normally.

For delicate fabrics, you will need a test: apply the product to the edge of the dirt, see the reaction, and only then pounce on the entire stain.

If funds are powerless and your dirty clothes are white or light-colored, try hanging them outside on a clear day. Let the sun do all the work for you.

Ventilate instead of washing

The air is free, so use it to your health! Many things with a slight smell of socks or aromas of night gatherings can be freshened up with regular airing. Hang your clothes anywhere where air is circulating – outdoors, on a balcony, or next to an open window. This is the simplest way of care, it does not require any costs, and for the environment – no harm.

The good old method still works. – A source

Freshen up your clothes

If the airing does not cope with the smell, try to neutralize it: lightly sprinkle the item with a fabric freshener. Just think about which one to choose: Many sprays are packed with chemicals like sodium phosphate, which can irritate your skin – and you probably won’t want to inhale it. Instead, look for safer, non-toxic products, or do it yourself – it’s a matter of two minutes.

Refreshing spray recipe: Take 1 tablespoon of baking soda, 2 cups of warm water (preferably filtered) and add 5-10 drops of essential oil. Shake the mixture in a spray bottle.


If the garment is generally clean, but lint, dust or hair has adhered to the surface, use a reusable nap roller instead of tearing through the fibers with the wash. Or invest in a quality clothes brush that cleans coats, jackets, and pants equally well. A little effort is sufficient to remove surface grime and restore shine to the garment. This method will surely appeal to those who have fluffy pets in the house.

Showering with delicate items

If clothes set aside for hand wash build up inexorably, why not take delicate items with you to the shower? This will save you time, effort and water. Most shampoos – other than those containing a creamy rinse – will work just as well on lace underwear as they do on your hair. But don’t waste resources – neither water nor energy. Washing clothes in the shower is not a reason to hang out there for a long time.

Examine labels for instructions on how to wash, dry, and iron your garment to keep it vibrant and spotless.

Think Before Downloading

Compliance with the recommended weight of the laundry is the main condition for an excellent result. Many machines use the same amount of water and energy for all cycles, no matter how full the drum is, so a small load is extremely wasteful. Typically, most machines need to run at full capacity in order to make the most of energy and water. However, some high-tech models can automatically adjust the water and electricity consumption according to the amount of laundry. Read the instructions for the ideal capacity of your machine. Avoid overloading or underloading.

Measure your washing powder correctly

Much depends on the amount of detergent used. Today, there are a lot of detergents containing dangerous chemical compounds like phenols, optical brighteners and brighteners, so their use is far from idle. Choose environmentally friendly products that are free from toxic chemicals.

Always measure out the recommended amount: if you increase the dose of powder, the clothes will not become cleaner, but the car will clog up.

This is Lauren Singer, the no-trash advocate. She became famous for having accumulated just one can of waste in 12 months and founded The Simply Co., which removes deadly chemicals from detergents.

Alternatively, you can skip washing powder altogether and try soap nuts, the fruit of a tree growing in the Himalayas. Place them in a small bag in the drum. One serving of nuts is enough for four to five washes, then they need to be replaced. This is a great option for allergy sufferers and people with sensitive skin.

Do not overuse fabric softener

We add fabric softeners when we wash to keep clothes smelling fresh, feel good, and not sticky due to static electricity. But like all detergents, except for a few products with natural ingredients, conditioners are made from a toxic cocktail of chemicals.

Try eliminating these detergents entirely from your wash, or if you need softness so much, use sustainable products. A spoonful of baking soda or white wine vinegar softens fabrics so don’t worry, you won’t smell. And to remove static electricity, dry your clothes with a string. If you want to add fragrance to things without using toxic chemicals, dilute a few drops of essential oil in a little water and pour into the conditioner compartment of your washing machine.

Remember the temperature

Many of us are used to washing at 40 ° C or higher. But at the same time, our money is washed down the drain, since we spend it on heating the water, not to mention the increased risk of damage to clothes. It is recommended to lower the temperature to 30 ° C or even lower for delicate fibers such as cashmere or silk. The most modern machines and detergents wash clothes quite effectively at this temperature, especially if you have previously treated stubborn stains.

Items that have special hygiene requirements (underwear, bedding or clothing that has survived a hard training) should preferably be washed at a higher temperature – 40-60 ° C. If every home in Europe were to lower the washing temperature from 60 or 40 ° C to lower values, we could reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by 12 million tons annually. And this is the volume of exhaust from three million cars!

Based on the book “Wardrobe in the style of Zero Waste”

Post cover – unsplash.com

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