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Washing Your Clothes Sustainably - Part 1 - How to Wash Delicate Items
What you don't know, what you need to know and some surprising facts - all about washing clothes!
If you're taking the time and effort to move toward a more sustainable home, clothes washing no doubt features heavily in your plan.
From what items to wash together, to the chemicals we choose to clean our clothes and how fast we spin our items, it all makes a difference to the waste we create, how long our clothes last and the energy we consume in washing.
We've been doing a bit of digging and found some things that surprised us - so we thought they might surprise you too. We'll be sharing these and a lot more over the next few weeks, as we focus on washing and the many elements to it.
Do You Really Need To Wash It?
Sometimes it's all too easy to throw that item into the laundry basket. Before you do it, consider whether it really needs to be washed. Washing - regardless of how gentle a programme we choose, will take its toll on our clothing. It's the number one reason that a garment will lose shape, colour fade or shrink. Sometimes clothes don't necessarily need to be washed, but may just need a freshen up.
Would it be just as effective to hang the item outside or in a steamy bathroom for an hour or two (remember when smoking wasn't banned? We did this all the time!). A hand steamer does a brilliant job of deodorising as does the sun - naturally removing bacteria and any accumulation of smells. Sometimes just a spot clean will be all we need to do.
Temperature Is Key To Washing Clothes
If you are going to wash, check the care label on your clothes. Delicate items such as silk and cashmere will need to be hand washed - but a lot of items will be fine in the washing machine. Did you know that the temperature on the care label is not actually the recommended temperature?
Neither did we. It's actually the maximum temperature that the item can be washed at before impacting the garment. Try washing at a lower temperature. Your washing detergent of choice should be efficient to do all of the work at removing bacteria, without the aid of a high temperature. Not only will you reduce your cycle time by lowering the temperature, you'll also save money on electricity and reduce the wear and tear on your clothes. Win win.
Don't Just 'Shove Them In'
If you can, turn clothes inside out before putting them into the washing machine. It makes sense, the part exposed to your skin is more exposed to the washing machine and detergent. Zips and fastenings are protected from the washing machine drum and from getting caught on each other too. Have you tried a laundry bag? These can further protect clothing - especially delicates and underwear.
How To Avoid Shrinking Clothes
How many times have you followed the care label, yet your items have shrunk anyway? Us too.
The safest way to avoid shrinkage is to wash at a lower temperature. I always wash at 30 and Arianne washes at 20. As we mentioned, the washing detergent should do the work - not the temperature. Clothes will not shrink at lower temperatures and will show less wear and tear. It's also great for our clothes, our electricity bill and the environment to reduce the speed of the spin on your washing machine cycle. This will allow clothes to retain their shape and reduces friction against other items.
How To Dry Clothes
Research shows that air drying is the best way to dry our clothes. If we can, in the outside air is best (plus we love the smell of freshly air dried clothes). If not possible, make sure the room you are air drying in is well ventilated, to avoid moisture build up.
There are so many advantages to air drying, not least that it's free! The sun naturally kills bacteria in materials too, meaning any body odours that may be left, will be removed. Air drying is gentle on fabric, without abrasion or the possibility of snagging which happens frequently in a tumble dryer. Your clothes won't shrink drying in the sun either. Clothes keep their shape better when hung - though some items such as jumpers may need to be dried flat (check out that care label). Drying clothes on a clothes line also reduces creasing and the need to iron, as gravity helps iron our your clothing at the same time.
If you have to use a tumble dryer, remember to check the care label for the maximum temperature setting. Removing clothing from the tumble dryer while still a little damp will also reduce the need for ironing and reduces wear on the material. Try to dry items inside out to avoid snagging and friction.
Next time, we'll be looking at that big topic of how to wash your whites!
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this article, we hope you found it of some use.
Do you have any washing or drying tips? We'd love to hear them! There's a comments section below...
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Keelly & Arianne xx