When switching to a sustainable lifestyle, we must not forget the laundry room. Changing a lifestyle can be overwhelming when one tries to do everything at once. That is why we must consider learning, reading, and informing ourselves, and start the change by baby-steps; one habit, one item, one routine at a time.
There are 3 (three) basic facts we must take under consideration for an act or habit to be sustainable: energy and natural resources I will use, caring for the items’ long-usage-life, and what products I use for it.
When washing our clothes, there are many things we can incorporate to make it a more eco-conscious habit.
1- Use cold water
Washing your clothes with cold water helps from an energy-saving and caring-for-the-fabrics’ perspective. Using cold water saves energy, which reduces your carbon-print indirectly.
On a more surprising note, many fabrics and stains respond better to cold water rather than warm temperatures. For example, blood and sweat stains settle with warm water. If the satin is too hard to remove, just let it soak for an hour or so in cold water and soap - if you can, leave it outside in the sun. The sun is the best whitener of all. I tell this from my own experience.
Some of the benefits of using cold water are that it preserves fabrics, works better for stains removal, and energy saving.
2- Make the most of your machine
If you use a washing machine, make sure you wash full loads and keep track of them. Use your clothes more than once (when possible), use natural detergents such as nut-soaps (which can be compostable later), laundry-egg (made with natural pellets for cleaning and softening fabrics), or plant-based liquid detergent. Our first step here might be switching to liquid soap as a whole, and that’s fine too.
At the moment, I am using liquid plant-based detergent that I buy at a Zero-Waste shop. I take my bottle and refill it every time I need to. And I do the same for my fabric softener.
Since I am continuing to learn about fabrics and their best caring practices, and recently read that vinegar balances the pH of soap and softener can be replaced with a cup of vintage instead.
Benefits of conscious-machine-usage: fewer loads, more efficient usage of the machine and water resource, natural green detergents are friendlier with the environment.
3- Stop Microfiber Pollution
Synthetic fabrics release microplastic fibers when being washed. That is why we have to choose wisely about our clothes beforehand. Try avoiding fast fashion, and choose preferably natural fabrics such as cotton or linen.
I’ve recently learned about GuppyFriend bags that help to prevent our microfiber waste from going down the drain. This might seem small, but as I always like to remark: small actions with HUGE IMPACT are the best.
Microplastic fibers will never disappear, and some organizations have shown images where you can see them on seashells and other living creatures. They might not be perceptible for the human eye, but it is there. And it is our responsibility to take ownership of the consequences of our actions.
The main benefit here is being able to reduce our pollution and care for our oceans. This way, we are conscious of our natural resources, such as water and the environment.
4- Care for your fabrics
Each item of clothes has a description of its ways to care for them. All of them should be washed inside out and follow the washing “instruction” marked in the label. I came across this Label Guide, and it has been a saint remedy for me when washing clothes. Knowing what’s best for each of my clothing items.
Other things to do can be:
- To ditch dryer sheets (they shorten fabrics life and they are made from unnatural products)
- Use natural liquid detergents (every day more end more detergents are improved; working better with cold water as being made from natural ingredients)
- Try wool balls for the dryer. They help to reduce static during the friction generated in the dryer and consequently reduces micro-waste from it.
5- Vinegar: a great ally!
Vinegar is another best friend of ours, with other natural ingredients we have in the house. Vinegar is really good for your clothes. You can avoid the softener and add a cup of vinegar. It will regulate our pH, softening the soap, leaving your clothes extra soft and fluffy.
Vinegar has many usages in a sustainable lifestyle, especially organic home-made vinegar. I am still trying them out and will have to elaborate on it in a different post.
I hope you enjoyed today's tip. Don't forget, this is a learning path for all of us!
Live, Love & Laugh
A True Nomad - Sol Acevedo