This might seem obvious but it can actually make a huge difference and most of us don't know how much we should be washing our items. Washing clothes requires a lot of water, a single wash cycle uses anything between 50 - 80 litres of water. A study conducted by Oxwash, Vanish and The Prophets found that washing machines in the UK use about 360 billion litres of water yearly!
The frequency of washes also depends on activities and how often you wear those clothes – for example if you wear them cycling every day, wash them more often. Items such as underwear, socks and activewear need washing after each wear, but clothes that don't have direct contact on our skin – such as jackets, hoodies and jeans – can be worn five or more times before needing a wash.
Oxwash's CEO and Founder, Dr Kyle Grant, suggests not washing your new pair of jeans for around six months. “Raw denim is a fabric that is unwashed and untreated and it benefits from being worn in. This will allow for the dye to settle and for the fabric to shape around your body. After that, still try to wash as little as possible – every three months should be enough”, he explains.
Maybe you just want to freshen your clothes instead of washing them? Enter laundry spray. Simply spray your garments to make clothes softer, smell fresher and reduce creasing. To get rid of those bad odours without putting on a wash here's a couple of non-toxic and natural sprays by Norfolk Living Co or The Lab Co. If you have delicate items or just hate ironing you can find crease-release sprays at The Laundress and The Lab Co's website.
With each wash we are contributing to plastic pollution, one single load of laundry releases 700,000 microscopic plastic fibres! These come from synthetic textiles such as polyester, nylon, or acrylic. This then ends up down the drain, passing through treatment plants and finally entering our seas and oceans.
You could invest in clothes that aren't made from the above but buying more clothes and throwing out old ones might do more harm than good as most items end up in landfill polluting the earth in a different way. Instead, use a micro-plastic filter such as Guppy Friend or Perky Peach's wash bags which trap all of the micro-plastics that shed during your washing so that you can dispose of them properly.
Why is it necessary to choose sustainable laundry soaps made with natural, biodegradable materials, rather than detergents? Traditional laundry detergents are manufactured using synthetic chemicals and contain damaging chemicals including chlorine bleach, dyes, fragrances and optical brighteners which contaminate our waterways. Some also contain phosphate and nitrogen which can cause algal blooms that starve other organisms from oxygen and sunlight.
Detergents which contain synthetic phosphate-rich substances are not biodegradable. Meaning every time you wash your clothes, a lot of nasty surfactants are dumped into the world’s sewage systems, where they can then slowly leach into the environment and waterways. This can be prevented by using natural and non-toxic detergents instead, here is our sustainable laundry product guide outlined below!
If you've never heard of soap nuts before, they might just be your new laundry best friend. Soap nuts come from sapindus genus trees that grow in the Himalayas which is about as natural as you can get. When mixed in water, they produce saponin, a non-synthetic and biodegradable surfactant (which is what allows laundry soap to clean otherwise water repellent oils from your clothes).
They come with a pouch that you fill (with a dosage chart provided) and each nut can be reused up to 10 times before being able to compost them! Typically you can find them in reusable or recyclable packaging from brands such as The Kind Wash, Living Naturally and Ecozone.
An Eco Egg is a reusable egg that replaces laundry detergent & fabric conditioner reducing single-use plastic and saving up to 40 detergent/fabric softener bottles a year. It does not contain any harmful chemicals, parabens, SLS/SLES, palm oil or micro-plastics.
One egg bundle can even last you for 70 washes! Thereafter, you just buy the refill packages which last for 50 washes and refill your egg to be used again, saving money and the environment at the same time. They even stock 'dryer eggs' which make your items softer and reduce creases whilst saving tumble drying time by up to 28%.
Those who love their liquid detergents don't fear there are plenty of natural alternatives. Consider changing to refillable non-toxic products. Not only do refills save on packaging but also money, it's a win win! Our top recommendations include the brands KINN Living, Moam Organics, Bower Collective and Fill.
Perhaps you prefer laundry capsules and are looking for an alternative to the pods you're currently using. Most eco-friendly laundry capsules come in minimal recyclable or compostable packaging containing highly concentrated tablets derived from only essential and natural ingredients. Some are even small enough to fit through your letter box saving on CO2 during the shipping process. Brands include Smol and Homethings.
Dr. Bronners 18-in-1 liquid castille soap can be used as shampoo, body soap, dish cleaner and laundry detergent! Just mix ⅓ to ½ cup of the soap with ½ cup of vinegar (or divide this recipe in half for HE washing machines) to make a natural and effective laundry detergent.
Dr. Bronners does come in a plastic bottle, but as it is multipurpose this means that it still largely reduces the amount of packaging that purchasing different products (i.e shampoo, body wash, dish soap, etc.) would require and can be refilled at most zero waste or bought in bulk refills so the same bottle can be reused.
Laundry papers are a zero-waste alternative since they are dissolvable. Just place one pre-measured eco-friendly laundry detergent strip papers in the wash, set your cycle, and press start. Since these strips weight only 3 grams, they’re 94% lighter than traditional laundry detergent.
Tru Earth calculated that if everyone switched to Laundry Detergent Eco-Strips, the yearly savings would amount to saving 700 million plastic jugs from hitting the landfills and taking 27 million cars off the road (that’s equivalent to planting 9 million trees!). Brands include Tru Earth, Serious Tissues, Blue Earth Clean, Simple Living Eco and Zero Waste Club.
Using standard laundry companies and dry-cleaners to wash your clothes? Often they don't think about the environmental costs. At Oxwash we make our laundry process as sustainable as possible, here's how.
We use non-toxic products; bacteria and microorganisms are removed by oxidation rather than heat with the integrated ozone process. Ozone gas quickly and safely converts to oxygen in the process, leaving no harmful residuals or by-products.
In 2021 we partnered with Vanish, using the Vanish 0% formula which removes stains without fragrance, dyes, phosphates or optical brighteners. Our biodegradable detergents, coupled with our ozone integration, provide excellent results at a 20 ̊C as opposed to the standard 40 ̊C-60 ̊C. With our laundry technology we save 2kg CO2 emissions per 12 kilogram wash.
In 2021 we installed PlanetCare microfibre filtration on our smaller washing machines which capture more than 95% of all the micro-plastics shed during washing. The filters are returned to PlanetCare and the captured microfibres are stored safely for future use in insulation mats. Microfibres shed from our drying process are currently being captured and stored with a view to using them in construction and manufacture.
For each wash cycle we run, we use 32 litres less water than conventional machines. In our Oxford lagoon we reclaim water from the rinse phases to use in the next wash cycle. This saves up to 60% of the water consumption versus a typical commercial washing machine and 70% compared to a domestic washing machine.
To deliver your items instead of travelling by car we cycle to you or if you use our postal service items are transported using DPD's fleet of electric vehicles.