The only Green Washing we’re interested in is clothes care with ZERO impact on the planet. On average, a household gets through almost 400 loads of laundry a year, consuming 13,500 gallons of water. Not only is this a huge waste, but that waste is also contaminated with microfibres (particles under 5mm) from manmade fabrics. A recent study found 6kg of clothes resulted in anything between 137,951 fibres (for poly-cotton clothes) to 728,789 fibres (for acrylic clothes). You might not think much of it, but what’s worse is these microfibres have started to impact our food chain, with scientists discovering these teeny tiny strands in fish larvae. Yuck. Add this to the energy use and chemical pollutants used, the damage we’re doing to the planet is relentless. So what can we do about it? With the advent of alternative cleaning solutions – anyone else have bicarb and apple vinegar on their repeat shopping list? – we’ve rounded up 5 sustainable laundry hacks you can adopt today.
1. Air them outside.
It might sound obvious but hang your clothes in the fresh air. This will help remove smoke, fumes or smells that may be trapped in your clothes. Ideal airing-out placement is outside if you can swing it, but a breezy sunlit room works as well. Bonus points for the nearby occurrence of leafy green plants, which can help absorb chemicals left over from the garment dying process.
2. Mix it up.
Pick up a bottle of inexpensive, high-proof vodka (any kind will work, we wouldn’t want the good stuff to go to waste ;). Mix with water in a spray bottle until the vodka ratio is about 60-70%. Spray it liberally on the area in question. Vodka dries odorless, kills bacteria, and will successfully remove smells. Leftovers can be added to raspberries and sugar – invite some friends over and suddenly laundry day doesn’t seem so bad!
3. Put them in the freezer.
For denim, many in-fabric smells are created by bacteria, which can be killed by freezing temperatures. If you’re okay with letting your jeans hang out in the freezer for a couple of hours – a large canvas bag will protect them from the icy depths – it can be a great alternative to washing. And since the freezer’s already running, you’ll be conserving energy.
4. Essential oils.
Even if re-worn clothes aren’t outwardly dirty or smelly, they can lose that fresh scent, the desire for which often drives us to wash unnecessarily. To freshen up yesterday’s outfit, mix a few drops of essential oils with water in a spray bottle and spritz on target areas. Lavender, lemon, clary sage, or grapefruit are all lovely options.
5. Lemon power.
Replace harsh dry-cleaning chemicals with something that comes straight from the earth. Simply mix lemon juice and water, scrub it onto the offending spot and hang dry. Any leftovers makes the perfect lemon dressing, just add garlic, mustard, honey, pepper, salt, cider vinegar and olive oil. Things that you could never do with your Fairy Non-Bio!