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Do you need to wash your clothes?

Does your bra need washing? But really, though, does it? How often do you wash your clothes? Are you an ‘after every wear’ kinda gal or a ‘I wash my jeans by putting them in the freezer’ type? In a recent interview Stella McCartney said: “Basically, in life, rule of thumb: if you don’t absolutely have to clean anything, don’t clean it.” I am all here for this statement, especially as the bulk of this post is going to be about microfibres (bear with while I give you my humorous preamble), but I question whether Stella has ever been on the Central Line at rush hour during the summer? My guess is no. 



Scary thought isn’t it but sadly our food chain is so polluted with plastics these days that it’s only logical that us humans, as the biggest predator, have accumulated the plastics and toxins from the food we eat. If you don’t want your body to be polluted with tiny fragments of plastic, or your children to breathe in air that’s full of the stuff then let’s all work together to not only change our attitude towards larger, visible plastic pollution but to the itsy bitsy invisible stuff too.





Microplastics are tiny particles of plastic that have been broken down into smaller and smaller pieces, and many microfibres come from the fashion industry. The number one thing you can do is to try and reduce your consumption of new clothes in general, but, if the need strikes then checking the label carefully and choosing more natural fibres over synthetics is a good place to start; 100% cotton or wool for example. Some simple googling will tell you that the worst ‘fabrics’ to look out for are nylon and polyester. It’s not just the ocean and rivers that get polluted with microplastics either. 

Synthetic garments actually shed their plastic fibres into the air, which we then breathe in. Scientists know the effects of long term exposure to larger plastics: decreased life expectancy, greater risk of cardiovascular problems etc, but the issue of micro plastics is too new for us to really understand what the lasting damage will be. Safe to say though that we weren’t built to be vessels for plastic pollution.




Each time we wash a synthetic garment it releases up to 70,000 tiny plastic microfibres.




The best recommendations seem to be to wash on shorter cycles and on a cold wash as this saves energy and reduces the friction and therefore shedding of the clothes. Also, let’s just get real for a second: periods can be messy and washing underwear and jeans becomes necessary if your period has caught you unawares or even at other points in your cycle where your discharge is just really heavy and soaks through your knickers. Maybe Stella has never experienced such an effusion of bodily fluids? Could she be in the Gweneth steam cleaning your vagina camp? It’s possible.