Buying clothes built to last is one thing- but it is how you care for them that makes the difference. The way we care for clothing is so important, no only because you are less likely to discard a garment because you are less likely to discard an item because it came out of the wash two sizes too small (... come on we've all done it), but because it can reduce the environmental impact. It is estimated that 25% of the carbon footprint that comes from clothing is as a result of clothing care post purchase.
That tag found on the neckline or down the seam of your shirt is not for decoration: it gives you advice from the maker to the buying on how best to care for the fabric. While you should always check the on the tag, these are some general techniques to keep in mind as you hang out in the laundry room.
1. Wash dark clothing inside out- dark washed jeans, black blouses and other darker materials can fade in the wash particularly as it rubs off on other garments in the cycle. Washing inside out ensure the items hold their colour.
2. Invest in a clothes-line or drying rack- Check out Pulley Maid for wooden clothes horses and lazy Sheilas
3. Wash your clothes less- Th washing process is famously tough on clothes, and over washing can ware down the fabrics.Unless your outerwear is visibly damaged, you probably don't need to wash it after one day.
4. Wash metal separately- Buttons and Zippers often find their way into the wash but can become seriously hot in the dryer and can melt onto the other garments. Best avoided by washing separately to your delicates and left to dry naturally.
Some sustainable fabrics to subside to the normal washing techniques so here are a few tips of how to look after certain fabrics.
1. Tencel- In the fabric world Tencel is the registered name for Lyocell, a biodegradable material made from wood pulp cellulous. Known for its "drape"- like qualities, it represents a milestone in the development of environmentally sustainable textiles. Hand wash in cold water with a gentle detergent. Check out the Clothes Doctor for sustainable care products. Drip dry. Only use a warm iron, anything too hot will immediately scorch the fabric. Disclaimer: It is likely to shrink by 3% in its first wash.
2. Organic Cotton- Organically sourced cotton is gradually winning over new ground both on the farm and the marketplace. Its production sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people by using natural processes rather than artificial inputs. Machine Washable (as per label) and drip dry or use Air Cycle on dryer.
3. Cashmere- Cashmere is a natural protein fibre that comes from the cashmere goat (the Capra Hircus Langier). The goats grow two coats, an outer coat and a soft fine inner coat where the cashmere comes from. This inner coat is shed naturally in spring which is when the fleece is harvested. Hand wash and then lay out flat to dry on a towel. Don't wring or twist the garment as it comes out of the wash because this will mean it loses shape. Moths love cashmere so make sure the garment is completely dry when and store safely.
4. Linen- Linen is one of the most biodegradable and stylish fabrics in history. it is strong an naturally moth resistant, originating from the flax plant fibres. Although linen can withstand high temperatures, it is better hand washed in cold water with a soft detergent.
By Editor Harriet Russell