Clothing maintenance is necessary for keeping clothing and textiles functional and socially acceptable, but it has environmental consequences due to the use of energy, water, and chemicals. This article discusses whether clothes made of different materials are cleaned in different ways and have different environmental impacts.
The article is based on a quantitative wardrobe survey and qualitative laundry diary data from China, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the USA. The study compares laundering frequency and cleaning methods of similar garments made of different materials based on a wardrobe survey and laundry diaries collected across five countries. According to the study, laundering frequency is the most influential factor for differences in the environmental impacts per wear between garment types. The Garment type, particularly its proximity to the skin, is the dominant factor influencing washing frequency.
Dry cleaning uses a lot of energy, and therefore garment types that are seldom dry cleaned, such as socks and t-shirts, have the largest benefits. Consumption values in the US are usually the highest, mainly due to extensive use of clothes dryers and less efficient washing machines, while Japan has the lowest energy use. Implications of the study include having brands and retailers bringing awareness on best garment care in countries like the US, where reducing the use of clothes dryers, reducing the dry cleaning frequency in Japan and China, and UK and Germany reducing washing temperatures to lower levels could lead to decrease in the environmental impact of clothes. There is more to be gained through changing consumers’ cleaning practices during the use phase to maximize the life of the garments.
Read More: Laundry Care Regimes: Do the Practices of Keeping Clothes Clean Have Different Environmental Impacts Based on the Fibre Content?
Environmental impacts of household laundry
Consumer perception of household laundry
Reducing use of dryers to conserve energy
Reducing washing frequency in garment laundry
Best practises for household laundry and hygiene
Laundry practises for apparel and garments longevity