You can find almost any product in the world that’s environmentally sustainable, and eco friendly clothing has recently exploded in popularity. It comes made from a variety of materials and processes, which makes cleaning it a bit of a confusing ordeal. Accidentally destroying a brand new shirt seems more environmentally inconsiderate than buying a standard piece of clothing to begin with. In reality, most green clothing isn’t any more fragile than traditional fabrics, but to create a holistic environmental lifestyle, it’s best to be washed with earth friendly cleaning products. We’ve compiled a brief overview of eco friendly clothing, and some tips for keeping it clean in a sustainable way.
Eco friendly clothing as a general term encapsulates a lot of different clothes. It may have been created out of less traditional materials (hemp or bamboo), with traditional but organic cotton, or with completely recycled materials. Fibers created from organic cotton have no pesticides and no toxic dyes that can pollute local water systems after washing; since cotton remains one of the world’s largest crops, the excessive pesticides most farmers use on it have been linked to cancer and severe ecological degradation. Manufacturers consider hemp a much more sustainable crop, because 250% more fibers can be extracted from it than from cotton; it’s one of the oldest fabrics for clothing, and it’s resurfaced in use now that modern clothiers have learned to work better with the threads (and produce shirts that don’t look like scratchy potato sacks). Because recycling is one of the three “environmental laws,” finding clothing that’s made of recycled fabrics has a visible effect on countering ecological waste. Whatever the material of eco friendly clothing, however, it remains environmentally hazardous if it’s not washed with environmental discretion and earth friendly cleaning products.
- Reduce chemicals. If you have to tackle a stain, it’s tempting to use bleach and other chemically altered products available in stores. Some of the best earth friendly cleaning products, though, aren’t even designed for cleaning. Using vinegar or baking soda to scrub out stains can work as effectively as any purchased detergent—and they’re naturally occurring, so they don’t send unnecessary chemicals into the earth. If you need to presoak an item, try soaking it in water with a bit of Borax first.
- Reduce (warm) water. One of the best methods of eco friendly living is to limit the amount of water you use every day. That’s especially true with laundry. Running a load with just a few items wastes a great deal of water. Wait long enough to wash large loads, or at the very least adjust the water levels in your machine. Switching to a cold wash, too, will save energy. Hot water can even dilute detergents, whether they’re earth friendly cleaning products or not, so colder washes will clean better too.
- Consider air-drying. Commercial dryers work quickly, but their effectiveness stems from the huge amounts of energy they consume. Using a clothesline may seem antiquated, but it works just as well: filling your clothes with a fresh air scent and even killing some bacteria with the power of the sun. It’s also easier on the fabric, ensuring they’ll last for much longer. Making these eco friendly living switches might seem simple, but over time it has a huge effect on the earth and the chemicals we put into it.