7 simple tips on how to prevent microplastics when washing
Microplastics harm our environment. Much of this comes from wearing and washing synthetic clothing. In the following article we will explain exactly what microplastics are and how you can prevent microplastics when washing.
Here's what you can do to avoid microplastics
- Wear clothing made from natural fibers
- Buy eco-friendly laundry detergent
- Wash hard fabrics separately
- Reduce washing temperature
- Avoid gentle cycle
- Avoid using a tumble dryer
- Use wash bag
What is microplastic?
Microplastics are solid, water-insoluble pieces of plastic that are smaller than 5 mm. They can hardly be seen with the naked eye and are released into the environment through the sewage.
According to an EMPA study *, more than 5,000 tons of plastic are released into the environment in Switzerland every year. The most important source of microplastics in water is the washing and wearing of synthetic clothing and cosmetics. An unbelievable 35 percent of the estimated 1.5 million tons of microplastics floating in our oceans come from synthetic fibers such as polyester, polyamide, acrylic or elastane.
* The study was carried out in 2019 on behalf of the Federal Office for the Environment. The seven most commonly used plastics were examined.
How does microplastic get into the washing machine?
When we wash, the friction causes microparticles to detach from our clothes and end up in rivers and seas through the sewage.
Detergents with synthetic polymers also release microplastics. Powder detergents and fabric softeners encourage fiber breakage.
This is how you avoid microplastics when washing
You can pay attention to this in order to cause as few microplastics as possible through washing.
1. Rely on natural fibers
As already mentioned, synthetic textiles are the main contributor to microplastics in the wash. These include polyester, polyamide or polyacyrl. The label on your clothing tells you what material it is made of.
If possible, avoid such substances. Instead, rely on textiles that are free of microplastics, such as
Find out more about clothing made from wood fiber in ourpost .
2. Go for eco-friendly laundry detergent
Many detergents contain microplastics and synthetic polymers. Among other things, they should eliminate gray haze and prevent discolouration. The polymers are only partially biodegradable and therefore a problem.
You can do without: Our bluu washing strips are a biodegradable alternative that contain neither plastic nor microplastics.
Plus: The bluu strips are already dosed, overdosing is impossible.
Here you can find out in detail what our washing strips are made of.
3. Separate your textiles
When your clothes spin in your washing machine, the friction loosens microplastic fibers. Hard objects and textiles lead to higher friction. Therefore, be careful not to wash them with synthetic clothing and wash them separately:
- running shoes
- shin guards
- outdoor jackets
Soapnuts also lead to more abrasion, so use them with caution.
4. Reduce the washing temperature
High temperatures cause the fibers in your clothing to break down more quickly. And to be honest: it's long outdated that you have to wash everything at 60 degrees to get it really clean.
As a rule, your normally soiled laundry will be clean at 30 to 40 degrees. At least if you use the bluu wash strips ;-)
5. Avoid the gentle cycle
The gentle cycle is bad for the environment for two reasons:
The gentle cycle 1) uses far more water and 2) thus flushes more fibers out of your clothes, especially polyester.
So avoid it if possible.
6. Skip the tumble dryer
The tumble dryer also puts a strain on your clothes and leads to increased fiber breakage. Dryers usually remove moisture from the laundry and collect the water in a container. After emptying, the microplastic particles get into the waste water.
This is how you can catch microplastics
7. Use a wash bag
When you wash clothes made of synthetic fibers, the abrasion of microplastics cannot be avoided. But you can catch it, for example with a wash bag. To do this, you put your clothes in the bag before washing and wash your laundry as usual. The fine-meshed bag construction catches the tiny microplastic parts and you can then remove them with a brush and dispose of them.
Wash Bag, from GUPPYFRIEND, price starts from CHF 34.90.
You can find out more about sustainability and washing on our blog.