Washing clothing is a weekend activity for me. I collect my and my boyfriend’s garments during the week and see what kind of washing I need to run on the weekend. Most of the time, I only wash our regular items. Only sometimes I wash the bedsheets and other household accessories on the same weekend. There are a few tips on how to make sure your washing rituals are as eco friendly as possible.
First and foremost, washing less is better. By washing less, you use less water and energy, therefore you need less resources. Not to mention the amount of money you can save up by washing your clothing less. Washing less does not mean wearing dirty clothes! In this article we are going to share tips with you about removing odors and stains without washing your clothes. And share other tips about natural washing products, air drying and fighting microplastic!
Have you ever been in a bar with your clothes freshly washed, and realized that after the visit they smell of alcohol and smoke? It happened to me multiple times. Without washing your clothes too often, there are other techniques you can use to get rid of different odors. It is important to mention that synthetic clothing stinks more than natural materials. Synthetic clothing does not absorb water therefore sweat and other odors will be more likely to stink heavier. Therefore, we highly advise to wear natural clothing instead of synthetic ones.
These methods do not remove any stains, only odors.
- The most effective way to get rid of odors is to freeze the clothing. The cold will kill all the bacteria that causes your clothes to smell. Put your garment in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer for 1-2 days. The garment will smell fresh afterwards.
- Hang the garment outside on a foggy day. This method is especially great for coats, wool sweaters or bigger items that do not fit in the freezer. After a few hours, your clothing will smell fresh again.
- Hang your item in the bathroom while you take a hot shower. The steam from the shower will work the same as hanging the item outside. However, it might take longer to reach the same effect since showering does not take hours, while you can hang your clothing outside even for days.
- Spray your clothing with water that is mixed with essential oil or pure vodka. Both of these methods remove the odor and leave the garment smelling fresh. Yes, even the one with vodka, because this beverage has no smell.
Getting rid of stains
- For regular stains such as grass or dirt, Marseille soap or Aleppo soap is the solution. These soaps are made of vegetable oil without any animal products. Rub the soap directly onto the garment where the stain is – this can even be used on carpets and sofas. You can use a used toothbrush or sponge to rub it in deeper if needed. Wash the item as regular if needed. You can watch a great video about the different usage of Marseille soap here.
- For blood stains, put some salt on the spot and pour a bit of cold water on top of the stain. After an hour, the stain will be almost gone. Wash the stain with your hand or wash the item as usual in the washing machine. It should come out stain free.
The products you use to wash your clothing are also affecting the environment. Natural and organic materials are better to be used since these are also entering the water systems afterwards instead of toxic chemicals. A great book about this topic is “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson.
Natural washing products
- Seepje has a variety of organic products to make your clothing cleaner. One of them is the “superschillen” – peels of nuts that make your clothing smell fresh and soft to touch. Put the peels in a cotton bag in the washing machine together with your clothes. The peels have a natural soapiness that will make your clothes clean and soft. A few peels can be used for 3-4 washes.
- The eco washing powder of Ecodoo works great as well. It comes in a paper bag that is easy to store and can be recycled again. Ecodoo is part of the 1% For The Planet initiative where they donate 1% of their income every year to a good cause.
Synthetic clothing, such as polyester, acrylic or nylon, are made of fossil fuels. Effectively, this means that they are made of plastic since plastic products and packaging are also fossil fuel-based. When washing synthetic clothing, microplastics and microfibers are released and they end up in the water systems. Eventually, they reach rivers, lakes, seas and oceans. Smaller fish cannot tell the difference between microplastics and microorganisms, so they eat plastic that comes from our clothing. Bigger fish eat smaller fish and they end up on our plate with microplastics in their stomach. You can watch an explanatory video about the circle of microplastic here.
There are solutions to reduce the amount of microplastic entering the waters.
- Use a filter bag. By putting synthetic clothing into a filter bag, the microplastics stay in the bag instead of entering the water. After washing, the microplastics can be collected in a glass jar or thrown into the trash can for recycling. You can purchase a filter bag here.
- Install a filter on the washing machine. Older models of washing machines do not have the right filters against microplastics. Newer models are coming with built-in filters for microplastics but they can also be purchased separately.
- Wash your clothing less. By doing so, you use less water and energy, plus you reduce the amount of microplastics that enter the waters of our planet.
- Ditch synthetic clothing. This one might be the most difficult as more and more clothing is made of synthetic materials and blends. When shopping for clothing, take a second look at the materials. Make sure you know what kind of materials the item you are about to purchase is made of. Reflect on whether these materials match your values.
Last but not least: air drying. There is fresh air and sun to be found outside. Why not use them? Tumble drying not only uses a lot of energy but it also makes the fibers of clothing shorter. As a result, the clothing gets damaged easier and faster and will have to be replaced shortly.
In the coming weeks, we are going to share more about materials, labels and how to shop second hand. For now, cleaning your clothes naturally might be a great first step.
How to use Marseille soap created by Life Before Plastik: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=naTugDO_7zc
Read “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson, an environmental classic on the toxic chemicals that are damaging the environment: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27333.Silent_Spring?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=G94yLGRQ6G&rank=1
1% for the planet initiative: https://www.onepercentfortheplanet.org
Microplastics video by Vox: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beUhzQAkanM
Where to buy
You can purchase Marseille soap here: https://www.dille-kamille.nl/zeep-marseille-blok-van-300-gram-32295314.html
You can purchase Seepje products via the link: https://www.seepje.nl/seepje-shop/
You can purchase Ecodoo washing powder via the link: https://www.natuurproduct.com/a-48378562/schoonmaak/waspoeder-kleur-wit-eco/#description
You can purchase microplastic filter bag here: https://www.ecomondo.nl/winkel/guppyfriend-waszak/
You can purchase microplastic filter for the washing machine here: https://www.planetcare.org/nl/