Once a week or only when you’re in the mood? How often do you load up the laundry? Laundry accounts for about 15% of water use in the home, with modern washing machines using around 50 litres of water per load. Yet, we’re probably running more loads then necessary…and damaging our clothes in the process.  

Here are some tips to help you protect your clothes and use less water.  

1) Wash at 30, on gentler cycles 

Washing at a cooler temperature can help your clothes last longer and save you money on electricity and heat, as well as reducing microfibre release. If you haven’t heard of microfibres, these are tiny strands of fabric that shed off of our clothes when we wash them. Because a lot of our clothes are synthetic this means that they contain plastic. This can lead to lots of tiny bits of plastic coming off our clothes and entering our waterways, rivers and oceans. To learn more about microfibres, head over to What’s in My Wash? In light of Covid-19, if you are likely to have been in contact with the virus, please follow professional advice on how best to wash your clothes and what temperature is needed.

2) Air dry 

Always let your clothes air dry when possible. Tumble dryers and the hot temperatures can make your clothes wear fasterthey add on to your energy bill, and are thought to increase shedding of microfibres. 

3)  Only wash when you really need to  

Not only does washing your clothes less often extend the life of them, it saves microfibres releasing in the wash. If you can get another wear out of something, let it air instead. Sometimes the lazy way is the best way. Make a habit of separating clean clothes from worn once but fine to wear again clothing to avoid contamination. 

When you do use the washing machine, remember to always fill it full which means filling about 3/4 of the drum. This makes the most of the water and energy and uses less of it than doing two half loads. Be careful not to fill it too much more than this though so you can make sure your clothes clean properly. 

This Hubbub vlog offers some great life hacks which can help remove smells or small stains.  

4) Zip up and separate colours  

Separate your colours, whites and delicateszip up any zippers to avoid them causing snags on other fabricsor try using a colour catcher to make it safer washing different colours in one go. If you are washing bras or other items with fish eye hooks, put them in netted wash bags to protect them from catching on anything and snagging the rest of the wash. Finally, turn jeans inside out as well as any screen printed items to avoid the prints fading prematurely. 

5) Understand the washing symbols  

Most clothes come with a washing label which gives us directions on how we should wash and dry our clothes, but from asking around not many people even look at the label, let alone know what they mean. Why does it matter, you ask? Washing clothes properly helps them keep their colour, stay in shape and generally look better for longer, meaning we can wear our favourite pieces again and again. 

1) Temperature


This symbol tells you what temperature to wash your clothes at. Even though some will say 40 or 60, unless you’re washing sanitary items switching to 30 degrees will do no harm.  

2) Hand Wash 

If this bucket has a hand in it then it means it needs to be hand washed rather than put into the washing machine.  

3) Spin

If any symbols have lines underneath them then this means they need to be put on a gentle wash, the more lines there are the gentler the spin should be. 

4) Dry

Any symbols inside a square are telling you how to dry your clothes. So a square with a half moon at the top means drying on a line, whereas a square with a line through it means to dry your garment flat. 

5) Dry Clean

If the main shape is a circle, look out for letter or mark inside the circle is telling you about whether it needs dry cleaning. 

These are the basic symbols that will be on most clothes, but for a more comprehensive list visit Love Your Clothes. 

Print out our easy guide to stick on your washing machine so you can remember these tips right when you need them. 


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