Beginners Guide: Sustainable Laundry Tips

I hope you find these eco-friendly clothing care tips useful and you start to see the difference it makes to your bank balance, as well as the sustained quality of your clothes. Building sustainable laundry habits takes a while, but with these tips you’ll be on your way to building a sustainable wardrobe in no time.

The sustainable wardrobe journey starts before, in-between and after laundry time, studies have shown that the most damaging part of a garment’s life cycle is after its sold onto to the consumer. This leaves us responsible for limiting our impact we make when it comes to washing and caring for our clothes.

Sustainable Laundry

Sustainable clothing care tips

Sustainable laundry tip no.1: Ditch the chemicals in your laundry

The first thing I recommend is switching to an Eco-Egg for your laundry to help you save money, reduce waste.  Traditional laundry detergents often contain chemicals that can be harmful to the environment, especially when they enter waterways.  You can see me using the egg in a wash on my post on IG here.  

I’ve learnt that on cooler washes the egg doesn’t feel as effective, so depending on how grubby your clothes are consider washing on a slightly higher temperature like 30 degrees. I also like to add a few drops of essential oil to my washing machine drawer (in the conditioner compartment) so it comes out smelling nice.

There are other options to the laundry egg, such as TruEarth laundry strips. I find the Eco-Egg very convenient and haven’t needed to try anything else as it just works for me.

Sustainable laundry tip no.2: Minimise the plastic shedding and capture those microfibres

Use a wash bag to capture microfibres that are released when you wash polyester, spandex and any other oil derived clothing in your washing machine such as anything made from recycled plastic bottles, recycled polyester blends. I use a Guppyfriend and I have one that was given to me by GNGR Bees the activewear brand on Ethical Brand Directory. Try not to over-fill the bags and I tend to pop my eco-egg into the laundry bag. Over the years my best washes have been where I use one bag, and place the egg inside and I don’t add extra clothes into the drum of the machine. For me at least, the wash bags are mostly used for my workout clothing which tends to be quite sweaty, so I really need these to have an intensive wash.


Discover the best way to get started on your personal style journey     

Roberta Lee - The Sustainable Stylist sits in a chair laughing. She wears a hat and black blazer with cream skirt .

Sustainable laundry tip no.3: Line dry your clothes on an outdoor line on a clothes airer inside

Line dry your clothes – it’s cheaper than the tumble dryer and helps keep clothes looking their best for longer. I also recommend hanging items that need ironing out straight away (as soon as the cycle has finished) on a hanger this allows them to dry without all the usual creases, and in some cases can eliminate the need to iron at all! Win-win!

If you’re thinking, yes, great in theory but I don’t have a garden and clothes line. You can still use a clothes airer to dry your clothes, if it’s just a balcony you have utilise, secure your clothes with pegs. If you don’t have a balcony think about where the sunshine pours in through the windows and position your airer there. And if you don’t have the space, consider using the bathroom or shower room, but always ensure when drying wet clothes inside you have a window open to prevent damp forming on the walls, the water has to go somewhere.

Sustainable laundry tip no.4 Wash your clothes less and refresh between washes!

Clean your clothes much less often! Wear sweat catching layers between your clothes (I wear cropped t-shirts under my dresses to protect the underarms). Spot clean between wears and refresh clothes in direct sunshine (which helps kill bacteria) a gentle breeze can naturally freshen up clothing, or use a natural fabric freshener like the ones by Norfork Living.  

Things like collars, underarms and cuffs of jackets can get grubby quite quickly in warmer weather, so consider giving the garment a quick sponge down when you get home and let it dry overnight on a hanger. This prevents the build up of smells and keeps your clothes in better condition for much longer.

Sustainable laundry tip no.5 Wash on lower temperatures

Did you know 90% of the energy used in a typical laundry cycle goes towards heating the water?  

Simply switching the temperature of your cycle down from 40 degrees to 20 degrees can make a huge difference. Not only will it save you money but your clothes will thank you for it, less shrinkage, less likely to have any colours running, and the fabric will remain softer and more durable for longer. Many clothes that are mass produced today are made poorly and designed to break down after just a few wears and washes. If you do have any clothes from fast-fashion brands you can keep them in better condition for longer by washing on cooler cycles.

Sustainable laundry tip no.6 Read the care labels

Read the care labels, this is an important step to maintaining your clothes for longer. My partner doesn’t read them and this is why I have lost a lots of good cashmere jumpers and seen shrinkage with any clothes made from viscose.

If you share a home with someone who won’t change their habits or take the time to read clothes labels, create a system that works for you. I do the laundry and my partners job is to put it out, the good news is that the last time he tried to be helpful and put a wash on, the cashmere disaster wasn’t too bad. The shrinkage of the jumper was minimal and the fibres didn’t become harsh and itchy, he still claims he has no idea how the jumper had found its way into a black wash! Fortunately the eco-egg didn’t ruin the cashmere. Had that of been a washing cycle above 20 degrees and using supermarket purchased washing detergent – that beloved cashmere jumper would have been ruined.

Sustainable laundry tip no.7 Look out for eco-friendly dry cleaning services

Seek out eco-friendly options dry cleaner option and minimise the number of trips you make a year. By spot washing garments or wearing a sweat catching layer beneath it, you can avoid needing to use a dry cleaners as often.

Check out these London-based eco dry cleaners:

BLANC Marylebone

Specialist Eco Cleaners

Eco Dry Cleaners

Lagoon Eco Friendly Dry Cleaners

Sustainable laundry tip no.8 Get a clothing steamer

Get a steamer at home, even if it’s just a handheld one. A steamer can help revive tired clothes that need a freshen up after they’ve been in storage too. I hate ironing so having a steamer is great tool for me, I have clothes which are tricky to iron, so a steam is often quicker and more effective and can prevent any damage made from a hot iron. I often put a few squirts of fabric freshener into the water to help make my clothes smell nice.

Let me know if you switch to any of these sustainable laundry tips and if you discover other eco-friendly laundry products pop the names of them below!

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