You can (and should) wear them more than once!

How often do you wash your clothes? After every wear? After every couple of wears? Chances are, you’re washing them far more often than necessary, which is not only bad news for the lifespan of your clothing but is also a massive energy drain, since washing machines require a lot of power. In fact, figures suggest that 60% of the overall environmental impact of clothing comes from washing and drying them.

In an interview with The Guardian, iconic fashion designer and climate activist Stella McCartney made it clear that less is more when it comes to laundry. “I don’t just chuck stuff into the washing machine because it’s been worn,” she says. So the question is, when should you chuck stuff into the washing machine?

It probably goes without saying that underpants and socks should be washed after every wear! But generally clothes only need washing when they are actually dirty or smelly. This may seem obvious but if you are in the habit of automatically throwing things in the machine then try every other wash and see how you get on.

Keeping clothes fresher for longer

Of course, even if your clothes don’t require a full-on wash, they may be smelling a bit musty at the end of the day. But there are lots of quick, energy-free ways of remedying this.

Layer up:
Wear a t-shirt or vest underneath a blouse or blazer. This will soak up sweat and skin cells and keep your outer garment clean and fresh. T-shirts can easily be washed on a cold cycle, and don’t require a long or complicated wash setting.

Air it out:
Don’t just turf worn clothes over the back of a chair – hang them up and let them breathe. If it’s a sunny day, hang them outside – UV rays help to kill bacteria that prevents smells and keeps garments fresh.

Spot-treat stains:
Spilling a bit of sauce on a shirt or getting a mud stain on your jeans hasn’t made the garment dirty everywhere, so instead of bundling the whole thing into the washing machine, spot treat the stain and hang to dry. We’ve got plenty of suggestions for effective, homemade cleaning solutions here.

Sort out your storage:
Clothes you don't wear very often – dresses or suits, for example – can get a bit musty sitting in the wardrobe, even if they were freshly laundered to start with. Pop fabric softener sheets or wrapped bars of soap in pockets to keep things smelling fragrant. An open packet of baking soda at the bottom of the wardrobe also works well for removing moisture and odours.

Tips for washing your clothes efficiently

When the time does come to put a load on, make sure you’re not accidentally sabotaging your efforts!

  • Don’t overload the machine – trying to wash too many clothes at once means items won’t get as thorough a clean as they could, plus it puts extra strain on your appliance.
  • Check pockets – hairgrips and coins can make the water smell musty which will spread through your clothes, not to mention potentially damage your machine
  • Avoid leaving wet laundry in the machine for too long, otherwise you’ll have that ‘wet dog smell’ to contend with
  • Make sure clothes are completely dry before putting them away, otherwise they’ll fester

And for an energy-savings boost, use your machine’s eco-programme and check out these top tips for doing laundry the eco-friendly way.

Finally, tumble driers are a real energy gremlin so on sunny and windy days always hang your clothes out to dry naturally. This will really help to cut down your energy bills as well as your carbon footprint.

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