Published on july 22, 2019

6 Ways Washing Your Clothes Could Save the Planet

written by Team thredUP

On average, one truck full of textiles is landfilled and incinerated every second. That’s a lot of perfectly good clothes gone to waste! Keeping items in use instead of buying new can reduce our footprint, that’s why taking better care of the clothes we have is SO important. Learn how to take care of your clothes with our Clothing Care Series! Each post will have different tips on how to love your clothes and the planet.


In a typical household, a family does 400 loads of laundry a year. Not only is that a ton of clothing, but that’s a ton of energy and water being wasted on laundry when it doesn’t have to be. Doing laundry every two days makes 440 kg of carbon dioxide emissions, and 90% of energy consumed by washing machines is for heating up water alone! Apart from the drain on our resources, washing clothes frequently can drain our closets. Frequent washing can wear clothes out quicker, which means you have to buy MORE clothes. It’s a vicious cycle that hurts the environment. Read on for clothes washing tips that will help the environment and help your clothes last longer.

Determine What Actually Needs to be Washed

Does anyone REALLY know how often we should be washing our clothes? There’s no right answer, but you should be aiming to do it as minimally as possible. If something gets stained, try spot cleaning it first. This may take the stain out so you don’t have to wash the clothes. If not, it definitely helps to remove most of the stain, so you don’t have to rewash clothes and slowly wear them down.


Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

With intimates being the exception, other clothes like jeans and tops can go a few wears without having to be washed. A helpful tip for remembering what has been worn and what hasn’t is by turning your hangers around on items you’ve worn before. That way you know what you can afford to wear more times and what you should maybe wash. Make sure that if you do wash clothes that you’re doing full loads of laundry and not just a few items here and there.

Wash With Cold Water

You’re going to eventually have to wash your clothes. To save energy, wash with cold water. Doing so protects clothes more than washing with hot water. This is because hot water can shrink clothes, and bright colors may bleed. Choosing cold is good for your energy bills, your clothes, and the planet.


Photo by from Pexels

Ditch Scented Soap, Use Concentrated & Biodegradable Detergent

We TOTALLY get it. Everyone loves the smell of flowers or cotton in their laundry, but at what cost? Chemicals in detergent are left on clothes which can irritate the skin. There are way less chemicals in biodegradable laundry soap and it can be just as effective. Not only that, soaps with scents or “extra cleaning power” (aka chemicals) end up costing more than concentrated and biodegradable laundry soap.

Say No to Chlorine Bleach

Even though chlorine bleach can help our clothes to look nice and clean, it harms the environment and contributes to water pollution. Instead of using chlorine bleach, try using half a cup of lemon juice during the rinse cycle. You can also use half a cup of baking soda during the wash to refresh your clothes!

Choose Line Drying


The dryer uses a ton of energy to produce heat. Line drying is a great alternative that uses less energy. As a result, it helps to preserve your clothing by not using heat that can end up damaging or shrinking fibers in your clothes. To line dry, hang your clothes on a clothesline or drying rack. If they are inside, make sure that there is good air circulation in the room so they dry fast.

Use Dryer Balls

Sometimes line drying isn’t always an option. If you do end up having to use a dryer, try tossing in some dryer balls with your load! Your clothes won’t clump together which makes your laundry dry faster. Plus, dryer balls hit against the fibers, and as a result, clothes come out feeling super soft. Which makes them a great (and cheaper) alternative to dryer sheets or fabric softener. There are different kinds of dryer balls, but most people choose to use ones made out of wool. Dryer balls are also reusable, so once you purchase them they are good for about 1,000 loads!

Get Creative With Your Lint


We know it’s important to clean lint traps so that they don’t become a fire hazard. What some people may not know is that you don’t have to throw lint out! In fact, you can reuse it for a variety of things. If you want something to easily start fires with during the winter, save your lint in a glass mason jar or something that isn’t flammable. Lint can also prevent weed growth in the garden if it’s from natural fibers like cotton and linen. If you do want to throw it out, you can compost it.

Washing clothes properly is super important, not only for the lifespan of your clothes but also for the environment. The best way to stay sustainable is by being more discerning about what needs to be washed and what doesn’t. Every little bit counts!

Comment below and tell us which of these tips you’re going to try out next!

Feature Photo by Skitterphoto from Pexels