Washing & Ironing Hints to make your clothes last longer

Washing and Drying are two of the most energy intensive stages in the whole lifecycle of a garment. 60% of the carbon emissions generated by a simple cotton T-shirt comes from the washes and machine dryings it will require in its life. Here are some Tips on how to lessen those impacts and how to be environmentally friendy and still get perfectly clean clothes!


Before you start washing:

Check all the pockets for money and tissues that can ruin a whole wash.

Button up buttons and close zips (helps keeping clothes in shape and protects buttons and zips).

Check the care lable for laundry instructions.

Do not overload your washing machine – there must be space for  circulation and movement of laundry or you won´t get a good wash!

Clear the filter at the buttom of the washing machine every six months or so to stop it getting clogged up.

Wash clothes less often at lower temperatures and with eco detergents (like Ecover and Bio-D or give EcoBalls a try instead of detergents www.nigelsecostore.com/acatalog/eco-balls-wash-kit.html)

Washing at 30°  instead of 40° can help save 1.6 billion kilowatt-hours of energy per year.

Washing lace, underwear and tights: put hem into an old pillow case and machine wash as normal.

Turn garments inside out before washing (especially corduroy). This prevents fading (for example denim or black jeans) and also helps keep your clothes fluff free from the outside! 

Turning clothes inside out also helps prevent `pilling´ (especially woollen garments). Wash garments on a delicate wash with a reduced spin cycle.

Faded colours? Try rinsing your clothes in water with some vinegar. That can help get rid of the washing powder that sometimes builds up within the fabric.

Don´t tumble dry - hang dry your clothes!

 Don´t dry coloured materials in direct sunlight, as it may bleach them when they are wet.

Never hang woollen clothes to dry or they may stretch. Instead dry the flat. 


Machine Wash Knitwear - Try placing your knitwear in a pillowcase to prevent them from stretching and going out of shape.

Pure wool or silk - Wash them with Shampoo and rinse with with your hair conditioner. The final rinse should be in cold water.

Wash same colours together.


Dry Cleaning 

If you have clothes that need to be dry cleaned, try choosing greener options like Green Earth Cleaning available at Johnsons (www.GreenEarthCleaning.com). Traditional dry cleaners use chemicals that are nasty and carcinogenic (an agent directly involved in the promotion of cancer), which are bad for you and the planet. Green Earth Cleaning is an alternative dry cleaning system that uses silica rather than the nasty ones.

Sometimes the `dry clean´ only label rather refers to the garments poor quality than the material. You can try washing your dry clean only garments gently by hand - can be risky though!



To reduce ironing time and save energy, put tin foil under the ironing board cover. This will reflect heat up on to the clothes as you iron.

If you do not have a steam iron, put hot water in a house plant sprayer.

If you have to iron an embroided garment, iron it inside out to make the embroidery stand out.


Stain Removal 

Dirty Shirt Collars and Lipstick Stains: put some light coloured shampoo on the stain before washing. Shampoo dissolves body oils.

Blood Stains: Soak your clothes in salted lukewarm water and then wash as normal.

Mildew Stains: Mix salt and lemon juice and rub into the stain then wash as normal.

Chewing Gum: Place the garment into a plastic bag and  in the freezer overnight. Scrape off as much gum as possible, rub in a little white wine vinegar and wash as normal.

Candle Wax: Scrape off as much wax as possible, place a cloth on the ironing boad, put the garment on top and protect the iron with brown paper. Iron the paper using medium heat. Move the paper until the paper stays clean.


Tips for your wardrobe:

Beware of moths: Brush and shake your clothes once a month and try placing scented soap among the clothes. Lavender oil on cotton wool placed among your clothes and cleaning drawers and cupboards regularly are also good tips to follow. 

Keep clothes winklefree: don´t fill your wardrobe to bursting. Put clothes that are not in season in suitcases or drawers if you do not have much space. Unwanted and old clothing that you don´t wear can be made into something new and exciting (see Make Do & Mend Projects).

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