Scientists from the University of Leeds found reducing both washing cycle length and water temperature significantly extended the life of garments and reduced the quantity of dye and microfibres shed into the environment.
Millions of ‘invisible’ plastic microfibres are shed every time we wash clothes and end up in the oceans where they are ingested by marine life.
The study, which used a combination of laboratory and consumer testing, found that clothes washed at 25oC on a 30-minute cycle shed 52% fewer microfibres and reduced dye release by up to 74%.
The study’s lead author Lucy Cotton said making small changes to your wash cycle could have a significant impact on the environment.
“We are increasingly familiar with the environmental threat posed by throwaway fast fashion, but we also know that consumers claim their clothes can lose their fit, softness and colour after fewer than five washes – this means it’s more likely they will ditch them long before they are worn out,” Ms Cotton said.
“Using shorter, cooler washes is a simple way everyone can make their clothes last longer and keep them out of landfill.”
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