Are You Washing Clothes Too Often? How You Can Save Money and Water by Cutting Back
Did you know that 9 out of 10 pieces of clothing end up in a landfill long before they really should? This is because over-washing tends to cause irreparable color fading, shrinkage, and misshaping? In fact, according to Fashion Revolution, up to 25% of each garment’s carbon footprint comes from the way we wash and care for it.
When you think about fast fashion, chances are that the first things that pop into your mind are sweatshops in developing countries, unsustainable farming practices, complex global supply chains with significant carbon footprints, and piles of clothing waste accumulating in landfills. But it turns out that when you look at the whole life cycle of a piece of clothing, everyday washing and drying damages our natural environment the most, so what you actually should be thinking about is how often you wash your clothes.
How Often Should You Do Laundry?
In her book “Sustainable Fashion and Textiles: Design Journeys” Kate Fletcher analyzes the environmental impact of the fashion industry. She reported that up to 82% of its energy use, 66% of its solid waste, and over half of its emissions to air come from washing and drying clothes. Energy Star states that a household does almost 400 loads of laundry each year, consuming about 13,500 gallons of water.
The obvious solution to saving water, energy, and reducing the environmental implications of your personal style, is to simply wash clothing less often. The United Nations Environment Programme discovered that you can consume up to five times less energy by wearing your jeans at least three times, washing them in cold water, and skipping the dryer or the iron. While items such as undies and socks need washing after each wear, clothes that don’t sit directly on our skin (i.e. jackets, coats, and jeans) can be worn five or more times before needing a wash.
So how often should you be washing your clothes? In this post, we’ll take a look at the various types of clothing to help you answer this question.
Underwear and Bras
While underwear should be washed after each time you wear them, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do laundry every day. You should have enough pairs to last you at least a week and by the end of the week, you can just wash your underwear with the remainder of your laundry. Bras, on the other hand, can be worn 3-4 times before requiring wash. If you sweat quite a lot, you may want to wash your bras a bit sooner but washing every day isn’t essential.
Leggings generally can be worn 1-3 times before needing to be washed. However, if you’re working out in them, like all gym clothes, they should be washed after every wear. As with your underwear, this doesn’t mean you have to wash gym clothes every day. If you exercise regularly, invest in a few items that you can use throughout the week and wash them all at the end of the week.
If you’re not a heavy sweater, you can wash your pajamas after 3-4 times of use.
Since they do come in direct contact with your skin (particularly your underarms), it is recommended to wash them after 1-2 wears. However, during the summer, when it gets extremely hot outside, you should wash your t-shirts after each time you wear them.
While you may wear them almost daily, jeans are a wardrobe staple that require the least amount of washing. You can wear them up to 6-7 times before having to toss them into the laundry bin. When you wash them, turn them inside out, soak them in a vinegar/water mix, and wash on a gentle cycle in order to avoid having them lose their color or shape.
Sweaters and Cardigans
Because these items are worn over a t-shirt, sweaters, vests, and cardigans can be worn 5-7 times before being washed.
Coats and Jackets
Due to the fact that coats and jackets are worn as an outer layer, it’s not likely that they’re exposed to body fluids or oils that would cause them to absorb a smell, so you really only need to wash them once or twice a season.
Reduce Your Environmental Impact
If you’re looking for ways to be kind to the environment, you can start by just reducing the number of times you wash your clothes. Some other ways to green your laundry routine include:
- Washing only full loads
- Choosing the “cold-water” setting on your machine
- Air drying your clothes
- Using an eco-friendly laundry detergent
- Upgrading to an Energy-Star washer and/or dryer
- Avoid using chlorine or bleach
- Skip fabric softeners and dryer sheets
If you’re interested in finding other ways to help brighten our planet, visit Spring Power & Gas today to learn about our eco-minded energy and natural gas products and the ways we strive for a sustainable future.