For all the conveniences of modern life, laundry is still a lot more complicated than rinse and repeat. True, we’re long past the days of soapy, shriveled fingers and scrubbing washboards. But as household tasks go, laundry remains uniquely demanding (and enduringly unpopular). How much detergent should you use? What cycle is best? How many clothes can you cram into your machine? Add to this the environmental cost of convenience — namely, the amount of water and energy we consume with every wash — and it can make embracing a sustainable lifestyle even more of a challenge. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to avoid mistakes that can damage your clothes and contribute to unnecessary waste. From choosing the right detergent to understanding proper fabric care, let’s explore some practical tips and techniques to help you preserve your garments, extend their lifespan, and minimize your environmental impact along the way. Here’s how to avoid all those laundry mishaps.
Sort your clothes and follow the care label
Before you do anything else, sort it out. Good advice for life — and the laundry room. Properly sorting your laundry is the foundation for effective garment care. Want to prevent color bleeding and protect delicate fabrics? Sort clothes by color, fabric type, and washing instructions. In doubt about what to do? Don’t guess or assume — read the label! You’ll find care instructions, temperature recommendations, and other fabric details. This way you can safely maintain the integrity of the fabric, prevent damage, and extend the lifespan of your garments.
Use the right detergent — and the right amount of detergent
Do you struggle to find that laundry room Goldilocks zone — not too much detergent, not too little? After all, not enough and your clothes won’t come out clean. Too much and you’re left with sticky, messy residue. So why not quit the guessing game altogether? SaltyLama’s eco-friendly laundry detergent sheets arrive pre-measured, meaning you’ll no longer have to pour liquid or powder into a cup, hoping to get it just right. Each sheet is two strips. For a regular-sized load, toss one strip into either your washing machine's detergent drawer or drum. For a smaller-to-medium load, rip a strip in half. And if you have an extra-large number of dirty clothes to tackle, toss two strips in. No measuring out gooey liquid — it’s that easy. Better still, the sheets are plant-based without the chemicals, phosphates, and harsh fragrances found in regular detergents. It’s an effective clean that’s kind to both people and planet.
Treat stains with care
Treating stains promptly and correctly can make a significant difference in preserving that much-loved shirt or prized sweater. Blot or gently scrape off excess stains before applying a suitable stain remover. Choose natural stain removal methods like white vinegar, baking soda, or lemon for a kind approach. Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals, as they can damage fabrics and harm the environment. And lastly, check out ways to fight outdoor stains as well as treat dreaded stains like wine and chocolate.
Don't overload the machine
Resist the temptation to cram as many clothes as possible into a single load. Overloading the washing machine can lead to inadequate cleaning, improper rinsing, and increased friction between garments. This friction can cause pilling, stretching, and even tearing. Follow the machine’s capacity guidelines, allowing your clothes enough room to move freely during the wash cycle.
Choose gentle washes for delicate items
Delicate fabrics such as silk, lace, and wool require extra maintenance. That’s why you’ll need to use gentle cycles designed for delicate items to minimize agitation and prevent damage. Additionally, placing delicate garments in mesh laundry bags provides an extra layer of protection during washing. This is especially handy for delicate underwear, bras, and long-strings items.
Air dry whenever possible
Take advantage of natural air drying instead of relying on energy-consuming dryers. Instead, hang your clothes on a clothesline or use drying racks to let them dry naturally. This saves energy and helps preserve the fabric's integrity, preventing shrinkage and extending the life of your clothes.
Store your clothes with care
Proper storage is crucial to maintain the quality of your clothes between wears. Clean and completely dry your garments before storing them to prevent mold, mildew, and unpleasant odors. Use breathable storage containers or garment bags to protect them from dust, insects, and sunlight. On top of those laundry tips, folding clothes gently or using padded hangers can help preserve their shape.
Mend and repair whenever you can
Don't throw it out if you find a hole, split hem, or missing button on your clothes. We also don’t recommend donating it as many facilities can’t accept clothes with holes or damage. Instead, repair them! Learn basic sewing skills or visit a local tailor for alterations or repairs. By extending the life of your clothes, you reduce waste and promote a more sustainable wardrobe. Once we decide to live a more conscious lifestyle, we see just how long our clothes can last when we take better care of them.
Clean your washer and dryer
Just because it cleans your clothes doesn’t mean your washing machine doesn’t get dirty, too. Mold, mildew, detergent residue, and plain old dirt from your clothes can all accumulate. To freshen it up, run the self-clean cycle. And while you’re at it, clean your dryer too — the lint trap and the dryer duct both pose a fire hazard if not regularly maintained.
Check pockets before you wash
It sounds simple enough — but how many of us have at one time or another forgotten to fish out coins and keys before we tossed our clothes into the wash? Loose objects — especially sharp ones — can easily ruin clothes as well as potentially damage your machine.
With a mindful approach, you can avoid common laundry mistakes that ruin clothes and contribute to environmental damage. By following these tips, you can extend the lifespan of your garments, minimize waste, and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time. So, embrace sustainable laundry practices and be a part of the movement towards a more eco-conscious lifestyle while preserving the beauty of your clothes for years to come!