One thing is certain, sheets need washing. Unfortunately though, from optical brighteners to synthetic microfibers, doing your laundry can be a dirty business, pouring toxins into our water streams and drinking up valuable resources in the process. But hold on to your laundry basket, there's hope!
We believe it's our job to do all we can to help the environment by sharing with you small but impactful tips. Just a few tweaks to your habits and you too can help reduce your carbon footprint, lower your energy bills and save the environment, while still keeping your bed linen stain-free, colour-strong and smelling sweet.
Washing aficionado and Wilton London founder, Sam, gives us the scoop.
Go Green with a Cool Clean
One easy-breezy way to up your sustainability kudos is to turn the dial on your washing machine to cold. According to research conducted by Ariel and the Energy Savings Trust, if every house in Greater London switched from 40°C to 30°C throughout the year, they could save enough energy to rotate the London Eye 2.3 million times. Makes you dizzy, doesn't it? And while the thought of germs might be making you toss and turn, hot water doesn't actually kill more bacteria than cold, in fact, it can damage your bed linen's good looks in the long term, shrinking the fabric, fading colours and making stains stick.
Ditch the Dryer and Catch a Breeze
Slipping into warm PJs straight from the dryer is one of life's most blissful little pleasures, sadly though, that cosiness comes at a cost. But don't fret, cutting down on your dryer usage doesn't have to mean a return to the days of hand-cranked wringers. Why not enhance your laundry’s freshness by line drying and let your linen bask in the Sun's naturally disinfecting rays? It'll spare your energy bill an extra dry cycle and add to your bedding’s shelf life!
However, for those days when your washing gets rained on and your dryer saves the day, clean your lint trap first as it will allow air to flow better, drying the load quicker. Rethink dryer sheets too as they're not easy to recycle and are usually coated in nasty chemicals, harmful to both your skin and the environment. Instead, reusable wool dryer balls are ideal for providing sustainable softness, and if you miss the added fragrance, you can pop a few drops of essential oil on them before they go in the machine and ta-dah, wonderfully scented laundry, naturally.
Tackle Tricky Stains with Homemade Help
Conventional detergents, stain removers and dryer sheets are some of the most toxic cleaning products on the market, full of artificial fragrances (what on earth does a 'Blue Sky' smell like anyway?!) and unpronounceable ingredients. Fortunately, there's no shortage of environmentally friendly, skin-kind alternatives hidden in your kitchen cupboard, perfect for making mucky marks vanish like magic. For one, good old white vinegar is a real miracle worker for eliminating stains and odours, as well as being inexpensive, gentle on natural fibres and safer to use than chlorine-based bleach. Try soaking your blemished bedding for half an hour in a diluted mix before putting them through a cold wash cycle and line-drying. However, if you're looking to brighten your dulled and yellowed whites, give lemon juice a go, while applying baking soda to the offending spot adds extra welly to send it on its way.
Pull the Plug on Plastic Pollution
Plastic pollution comes in many different forms, but probably the most prolific and hardest to prevent are microfibers. Every time you launder a synthetic garment, made from the likes of polyester, acrylic or nylon, thousands of microscopic pieces of plastic (thinner than a human hair!) are washed away with the rinse water, flushed into our oceans and ingested by marine life. Scarily, researchers have found these fibres strewn across the globe, from the deepest depths of the Mariana Trench to the uninhabitable Arctic tundra back to the food on our plates; these particles are everywhere.
The soundest switch you can make is swapping polyester sheets for those woven from natural materials, such as 100% cotton or linen, as their fibres break down easily over time. Other ways to stop the shed include separating your laundry into heavy and light items to reduce the amount of agitation in your washer or washing synthetics with a gentler detergent, like Wilton London's Eco Laundry Liquid, on a 'Delicate' setting. You can also buy filter devices like the Guppyfriend Washing Bag that collects fibres before they can escape, which while not an end-all solution, reduces the amount of plastic going down your drain and raises awareness about the issue.
Maximise Your Laundry Loads
Be lazy! If your laundry hasn't been put through a sweaty workout or a morning coffee spill incident, there's life in it yet. Washing machines use the same amount of energy no matter the size of the load, so save yourself the hassle and the environment an added expense, and wait until you have a full laundry basket before firing up your machine. Not sure if your drum’s filled to the max? If you can still place a clenched fist on top of the washing without compressing the items, you're good to go.
Thanks for helping us lighten our load on the environment, Sam! A happier, healthier planet starts at in our homes.
We would love to hear from you if you have any environmental laundry tips to share with us, so get in touch, there is always more we can do. It’s the small changes that will make a difference.