5 Tips On Caring For Your Eco-friendly Lingerie Sustainably
Article contributed by guest writer Rachel Metcalf of Ecothes.
Those with a keen interest in sustainability know that living sustainably is about how we act as well as what we consume. Eco-friendly brands like ColieCo have led the way in offering us beautiful, hard-wearing and sustainably-made garments that don’t cost the earth, but consumers also need to know how to care for these items so that they can make them last.
The clothes we wear and the fabrics they are made from matter, none more so than our underwear. These items are among the most important things we own - we wear them next to our skin every day, we want them to be clean, comfortable and attractive time and time again, and we need them to last in order to help limit our consumption.
That’s why we’ve put together five tips on how best to care for your most delicate and well-loved ColieCo items - those beautiful bras and pretty pairs of knickers that you want to wear for years to come.
1. Hand wash whenever you can
Carrie Bradshaw memorably washed all of her designer lingerie by hand in the bathroom sink, suggesting that her underwear drawer was worth a small fortune. We probably all know that pricey silk and lace benefits from a light touch, and is best laundered by hand, in warm water and with gentle detergents. But did you know that modal, lyocell and bamboo can also last longer and look better when washed by hand?
Put time aside once a week to hand wash your lingerie in warm (never hot) water with an eco-friendly detergent and your smalls will last longer and look better for it. Remember to fasten bras and bralettes before washing to prevent hooks from snagging delicate fabric.
2. Have a sort out and rotate your favourites
Everyone plays favourites with their underwear drawer, but if you find yourself wearing the same few items over and over whilst ignoring 80% of your lingerie, then you need to have a sort out.
Unworn clothes - including lingerie - can be resold, donated or recycled, and these are all far better uses for them than taking up space in your drawers, especially if you have items made from less sustainable materials that might one day end up in landfill.
Once you’re wearing all of your favourite sustainable lingerie regularly, identify the most comfortable and/or practical things and buy duplicates of them whilst you can. You can see this as an investment, as you already know that you’ll love your new pieces, and rotating them with your ‘old faithfuls’ will help them all last longer.
Investing in more adjustable garments - like ColieCo’s super-versatile soft cup bras and the panties featuring their signature waist adjuster - can help you find the perfect fit, both today and in six or twelve months’ time, extending the use that you’ll get from your ethical underwear.
3. Avoid overwashing
It’s tempting to chuck bras straight into the laundry basket after one wear - hygiene is, of course, an important consideration for all of us - but if you are rotating your bras and bralettes then there is really no need.
Bras will last longer with less frequent washing, and they don’t need to be freshly washed for every wear like knickers do. Aim to wear your bras at least three or four times before you set them aside to wash and you will extend their life by years compared with washing after every wear.
It might help to plan which bras go best under which outfits and ensure you’re mixing it up, rather than relying on the same one or two everyday. Did you know that red is often a better choice under a white t-shirt than a white bra? Once you’ve found your favourite matches, you can even hang bras with certain outfits in your wardrobe to remind you to switch them up.
4. Never use a tumble dryer
Using a tumble dryer to dry your underwear quickly is tempting - especially when you’re desperate to wear that perfect set and it isn’t quite dry yet - but it is disastrous for your lingerie’s lifespan as well as the environment.
Tumble dryers contribute to global warming at an alarming rate: a single load of laundry washed in hot water and tumble dried can be responsible for emissions equivalent to 3.3 kgs of carbon dioxide. Hot air and vigorous spinning will also damage delicate fabrics over time, making tumble drying a poor financial as well as environmental choice.
Air drying is both free and ecologically sound, and at a push, the heat of your body can dry a slightly damp item in just a few minutes anyway! Ensure you carefully wring out your lingerie after washing and spread it flat or hang on hangers to dry, leaving a window open for ventilation.
5. Invest in a GUPPYFRIEND washing bag
These little bags are a game changer in the war against microplastic pollution.
All fabrics derived from plastics - which include polyester, nylon and acrylic - release microfibres into your washing machine’s water during every single wash cycle. The waste water leaving your washing machine, and still carrying these microfibres, eventually arrives in rivers and oceans, contributing to the pollution of marine environments.
Whilst more and more of us are avoiding purchasing virgin (newly manufactured) synthetic fabrics, many of us will still wear old and second-hand items made from virgin synthetics. And even items made from reclaimed or recycled fabrics and coming from sustainable brands will release microfibres into washing machine waste water during wash cycles.
To give an idea of how much of a problem microfibre pollution has become, research performed by a team at The University of California discovered that a city of 100,000 people would release a volume of microfibres equivalent to 15,000 plastic bags every day.
One new, simple and effective solution to this problem can be found in the GUPPYFRIEND washing bag.
The GUPPYFRIEND performs two functions exceptionally well. Firstly, it reduces the amount of mechanical friction your clothes experience when they’re washed by as much as 86%. This reduces the number of microfibres released during washing, helping keep your garments looking their best and extending their lifespans. Secondly, GUPPYFRIEND captures all of those fibres which are still released, keeping them out of your washing machine’s waste water, and ultimately the ocean.
Simply place your laundry in the bag before putting the whole thing in your washer, and you’ve both protected your smalls and helped stem the tide against microplastics.
ColieCo has teamed up with ethical manufacturer LANGBRETT to make GUPPYFRIEND washing bags available to customers via coliecolingerie.com here.