If you want to live a long and fulfilling life, you have to do what’s best for yourself and the environment. This starts with simple self-care practices that can make your day brighter, such as lying down on soft cotton linens to get a good night’s sleep. In fact, our article Why Organic Cotton highlights that people are starting to invest in organic cotton products so they can sleep comfortably without worrying about getting exposed to harmful chemicals. Unlike genetically modified cotton, organic cotton linens do not cause skin reactions, allergies, asthma, or even cancer because organic farmers stay away from environmentally harmful pesticides and fertilizers.
Unfortunately, you might expose yourself and the environment to harsh chemicals if you follow care tips that have a negative environmental impact. Nature World News reports that a single load of laundry that’s cleaned with a washer and dryer can result in a 7.2 lb carbon footprint. The process does not only harm the environment, but it can also put you at risk for certain conditions due to the toxic materials in laundry products.
Fortunately, it’s possible to care for your linens in an eco-friendly way. Take care of the environment and your cotton linens through these sustainable care tips:
Try to wash your linens by hand: Hand washing your linens can take up a lot of time and effort. However, this strategy is actually one of the most inexpensive and eco-friendly ways to do your own laundry.
The Environmental Protection Agency reveals that about 26,000 gallons of water are used by each household annually just to clean clothes in washing machines. You can reduce water waste and even your electrical consumption by simply doing your laundry by hand. Through this method, you can control the amount of water that you’ll need, plus you can ensure that your organic cotton linens are gently handled.
Photo via @binnenbijkim
Dry your linens by hanging them up: Washers and dryers can be bad for the environment. In fact, an article on Laundry Practices and Water Conservation reveals that washing machines can use up to 910 kWh of electricity per year. Meanwhile, dryers use up to 6% of an average home’s energy use.
To reduce your home’s carbon footprint, you can simply opt to hang your linens outside. This is the most sustainable and cost-effective option because you’re relying on the sun’s heat to dry your linens. But if you really need to use washing machines or dryers, invest in machines that adjust the electricity and water consumption based on your laundry’s weight and the fabrics that need to be washed. You should also wash with a full load and use a lower water temperature to make the process more sustainable.
Avoid fabric softeners and dryer sheets: Organic cotton stays soft to the touch even without using fabric softeners or dryer sheets. Modern laundry detergents can also further soften these fabrics, which is why there’s no need for excess products that do the same job.
But aside from being unnecessary, Fashionable Clothing explains that using fabric softeners and dryer sheets can actually harm the environment because of their quaternary ammonium compounds content. These compounds don’t easily biodegrade, so they can potentially affect marine ecosystems once they transfer from your machine into water systems. Instead, try to use natural laundry detergents that don't contain harmful ingredients like surfactants, phosphates, and formaldehydes. Avoiding these ingredients will ensure that you can naturally soften your clothes without utilizing components that can make water toxic or even cause conditions like skin irritation and cancer.
Minimize the need for ironing: It can seem luxurious to see wrinkle-free linens. However, ironing can actually consume lots of electricity and even emit unnecessary CO².
As such, the Clevercare initiative actually recommends ironing only when it’s necessary for your own needs. As an alternative, you can hang your wrinkled linens in the shower area and spray them with water to let the shower steam pull the wrinkles out. But if you’re just using the linens for personal use, consider skipping these steps.
Caring for your linens in a sustainable manner can be easy and cost-effective. By considering these laundry alternatives, you can do your job of helping the planet, while conserving the quality of your linens at the same time.
Written by Aliyah Kaylene Clowes