For many garments, wear and tear comes from the care of our clothes, not necessarily what we do when we wear them. Washing is hands-down the biggest opportunity we have to extend the life of our clothes, which in turn helps your wallet and the planet. And really, how can you complain about fewer laundry days?
Before you toss an item in the laundry, consider whether one of these options might meet your needs and help you put off washing juuuuust a little longer:
- Letting it air out overnight. Sometimes garments just need a little fresh air to allow moisture to evaporate and relegate odors before being put back into circulation. Drape your piece over a chair or on a hook, and let air flow do its magic.
- Giving it a spritz of non-toxic freshening spray. Our favorite around here is made from 1 part rose water, 1 part silver solution. The ingredients are a little pricey to buy, but well worth it when you consider the savings in energy costs and new clothing purchases. Another great option is vodka!
- Putting the item in the freezer to quench stench. Freezing clothes has the effect of temporarily deactivating bacteria that may cause odor. While chilling your clothes in the freezer does not kill the bacteria, sometimes it can help you put off washing for an extra wear or two.
- Spot treating. If you’re dealing with a small stain on a limited area, sometimes a scrub with a dry washcloth, or a dab of water, or a little stain lifter is all you need. We like Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap mixed with a little bit of water for this. Tide Pens can also be a life-saver. Although they’re packaged in plastic and not a particularly natural product, when you consider the reduction in energy and water usage by skipping a load of laundry or a trip to the dry cleaner, we still count it as an eco-victory.
- Running it through the dryer without washing. Although the dryer has a high energy footprint because it generates heat, running just the dryer versus the washer and the dryer is still less energy. This method is excellent for odor removal. Our favorite tip is to put a few drops of lavender essential oil on a reusable wool dryer ball and tumble a garment for 5-15 minutes on low to medium heat. We love to use this one after freezing a garment for an extra boost. Bonus: the dryer can give you an assist with wrinkles, too!
- Showering with your clothes. (You can take them off first.) If your garment doesn’t need a high-powered scrub, why not take advantage of the water you’re using anyway and give it a rinse in the shower? You can toss your pieces on the shower floor while you lather up, and even let your shampoo or soap wash over your clothes, as long as it’s gentle enough to be safe for the fabric. This method is especially useful for lingerie, tights, pantyhose, and other delicates. Bonus points if you can let the item drip dry. (Just be sure the dripping is happening somewhere that the noise won’t keep you awake at night!)
- Iron or steam. Are you conflating “wrinkled” with “dirty”? Sometimes giving your clothes a chance to release their wrinkles is all you need to see them as clean (enough) again. Pro tip: if odors are a concern, you can steam with a 50/50 solution of vodka and water to stop the stink.
What are your favorite ways to care for your clothes? Drop a comment below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We love hearing from you!