How To Wash Laundry LESS Often (for The Planet)

August 4, 2019

Washing your clothes less often is actually better for the planet and will free up some precious time for more exciting things.


Don't worry, it doesn't involve wearing dirty clothes!




Most of us do our laundry too frequently and this uses more resources unnecessarily.



.....And, of course, once the wash cycle ends, we need to hang it up, wait for it to dry then fold and put it all away. 




Now this isn't an excuse to never do the laundry, but this post will explain;


>Why it's better to do LESS,


>How often items really need to be washed AND


>Tips on reducing your laundry



Benefits of Doing Less Laundry



Lower Water Usage



 Use Less Electricity 



 Less Laundry Products



Clothes Last Longer



Less Water Pollution



✔ It's Cheaper



  More Free Time




This means it IS better for YOU and the PLANET!






Are You Washing Too Often?


How often you need to wash various items depends a LOT on your lifestyle, where you live, work, have pets and more.



For example, if you're a tradie, you may need to wash clothing after one wear, if you work in an office it will be less frequent, if you have kids - well, let's just say you will be constantly doing laundry.



Below is a basic guide on how often items require a wash; 



Socks & Undies > After EVERY wear



Tops, T-shirts & Dresses > After 2 - 3 wears



 Jumpers > After 3-5 wears



Jackets  > Every 1- 6 Weeks



Coats and Outer Wear > Monthly or longer



Exercise Clothing >1-3 wears
(depends how much you sweat)



Pants & Trousers > After 2-5 wears 



Kids Clothing > Daily (sometimes hourly!)



Jeans > Weekly, monthly 

(highly debatable, some say never wash them, what do you think?)



Bathroom Towels > Every 5-7 days 



Hand towels & Tea towels > Every 1-4 Days

(depending on how many people are using them)



Sheets & Bedding > Every 1-2 weeks



Pillows & Doonas > Once or twice a year



The more you wash, the more quickly you wear out your clothing.





How To Do LESS Laundry



Here are some simple tips to reduce your washing loads;



> ALWAYS Check Clothing First


Kids (and adults) can get a little too enthusiastic about using the wash basket and might add clothes that haven't even been worn.



Don't use the wash basket as an opportunity to tidy up messy piles of clothes




DO check the items require a wash instead of blindly shoving them into the washing machine.



Make sure they look dirty!




>Smell Your Clothes 


If you're unsure whether clothing is due for a wash, sniff that jumper / t-shirt / towel.



Only wore it once? Chances are it doesn't need washing.



If it smells unpleasant ( musty, damp, sweaty) then go ahead and wash it.




> Switch Deodorants



There have been studies that show natural deodorants actually work better than the chemical and aluminium laden varieties.



Making your own deodorant is going to help you wash less often and reduce your environmental footprint. Try a DIY deodorant paste or natural spray.




If you are struggling and find your natural deodorant isn't working that great, you NEED to try these tips before giving up.



> Freshen Up Instead


Clothes that have been in storage or worn infrequently, or perhaps left hanging on your treadmill for months? 



They may be dusty or stale and only require a freshen up in the machine with a tablespoon of vinegar, rather than a full wash cycle.


Get the job done just as effectively, but with less resources and impact.



 Image from Panasonic 



>Don't Create Huge Piles of Worn Clothing



Make sure to keep clean and dirty clothes separate or you might be making more work for yourself.



If you tend to wear an item, then put it in a 'not dirty, but not clean' pile that is completely fine. 



When that pile becomes half of your wardrobe then it becomes a problem.


If you have young kids, it can become a nightmare. 




Because kids catch horrible things and pass them on to the rest of the family! 

And sometimes that means EVERYTHING worn requires a hot wash.




>Treat Spots & Spills


Ever put on a top only to spill something on it or rub against something dusty?



It's annoying, but simple to deal with.



Spot treat the effected areas with a damp cloth or rinse under water and let it dry.



In an hour or so it will be fine to wear and you haven't added more items to your washing.




> A Note On Hand Towels....



The more people in your house, the less likely you will want to use hand towels.



They tend to get used frequently and stay damp, making them an item you need to wash often.



If you have little kids you will find toothpaste, mud (hopefully it's mud), paint and sticky stuff on your hand towels every time you blink!



In our house, we just use our own individual bath towels to dry hands - it limits the surprises, potential germ outbreaks and there is less to wash.




>Socks & Undies


Sorry, these are going to have to be washed every single time unless you have some kind of secret I don't know about.


(wearing them inside out / back to front totally doesn't count, although you can opt not to wear them at all) 



Don't sniff them, air them or refresh them (it's not gonna work and it's a kinda gross)


 Just Wash them



>Air Your Clothes


Ever hung out a camp fire, BBQ or somewhere smoky?


It can make clothes smell pretty awful.


There's an easy solution - hang them outdoors for a day or two  






> Air Your Wardrobe 


Jam packed wardrobes can impact how fresh your clothes smell.


Open the doors and air it out occasionally to prevent this.


Try to create space between pieces of clothing too and if there are items you haven't worn for a very long time, give it away.




> Always Hang Towels


Hanging up your towels after each use to give them a chance to dry rather than stay damp and become smelly.


Use your regular towel racks and if you're bathroom stays damp, try hanging them on the washing line instead.




>Seasonal Clothing Stash


If you have a clear separation between summer and winter clothes or are storing clothes for any reason, the last thing you want is to have to wash next time you dig them out.


Store well and make your own botanical sachets to keep them fresh and deter moths.




> Wear an Apron 

Cover clothes while cooking to stop food odours permeating your clothes and of course protect from oil and bits of food that might be flying around.


This goes for cleaning, painting, gardening and working on any messy job.


Yes, you will have an apron to wash but that is better than an entire outfit.




>Opt for Natural Fibres


Synthetic fibres make us to sweat more AND tend to hold onto smells.



A polyester shirt is likely to only get one wear before it's on the nose but cotton will get 2-3 wears before needing to be washed.




>Buy Less New Items


When we buy new clothing, sheets or towels they need to be washed (and washed separately) before wearing due to the chemicals and potential colour leech.


This can happen for the second and third washes too. Just another reason to prefer second hand as someone else has already done this for you.



Use what you have, re-purpose and repair what you can and opt for second-hand.




> Don't Separate Your Wash Loads


Do you wash darks and lights separate?

or maybe towels and clothing go into different washing loads?


Most items can be washed on 30 degrees or a cold wash in a blended load that includes towels, socks, t-shirts, pillowcases etc.


Of course to do so, you won't want to mix new items together for the first few washes (see previous point!)



>Do Full Wash Loads


If you literally only have ONE thing to wash, then hand-wash it rather than put it through a full cycle.


Your washing machine might be water saving but it is a waste to run it for 40 minutes for one shirt.


Freedom - You don't need to have a designated laundry day. If you don't have a full load on Saturday, skip it and wait til Wednesday.  





> Keep Doing What You Love


OK, This one won't help you reduce your washing but is  a reminder that somethings we love make more laundry - and we should keep doing them.



Planting food, cuddling  pets, making mud pies with our kids, camping, dumpster diving, bush walking, fishing, digging holes, foraging, litter collecting, composting, lifting weights, and so many more!





Doing the laundry might be one of those boring chores we can't avoid, but we can certainly do less of it.







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