So if you’re not into fast fashion, you are likely going to spend a little more on clothes that last. So once you have them, it’s important to care for them, so they last longer. For washing clothes, see tips for a natural laundry day,. This post covers everything else including dry-cleaning (or not!), how to hang your clothes up, whether to iron or not, and how to prevent mothballs. Urbabag (reusable suit bag)
Zero Waste Clothes Hangers
Millions of clothes hangers exist in wardrobes and hotel rooms, yet most are made from plastic, and inevitably find their way to landfill. They are also not easily recycled (due to being a combination of plastic with a metal hook), so end up in the bin. First Mile offers a bulk collection service for recycling, if you fancy setting up a local business or shop scheme for the community. Each sack takes 70 to 80 hangers where a magnet separates the metal, and then the materials are made into new items, mostly more coat hangers.
Another issue with plastic coat hangers is that they are not very good. Put a heavy coat on one, and you’ll soon see it collapse. For this reason, choosing heavier materials like sustainable wood is better for heavy coats. Otherwise you could go for biodegradable cardboard hangers. Another option is to fold clothes, you don’t have to hang everything up! Mostly, delicate materials and items that would break a hanger are best folded anyway, as they can sag and go out of shape. Many people worldwide live without wardrobes, it’s only really necessary for wrinkly dresses and blazers etc. Insert hangers from the bottom of shirts, to avoid stretching out the collars.
Clippie has reinvented the clothes hanger! This user-friendly hanger is made from recycled materials and can hold any combination of outfit or garment. There is a removable trouser bar for crease-free folding and enclosed clips to prevent tangles.
How to Prevent Bobbling on Clothes
Wash jumpers inside out, as the best way. Steamery sells a nice vegan bristle clothing brush, to remove dust, dirt and hair. Made from oak, sisal fibres and cotton, a few strokes is all you need to clean up denim, cotton, outerwear and home textiles (do not use on delicates like silk or chiffon).
Greener Clothes Pegs!
Most clothes pegs are made from plastic (not good) or metal (if cheap, can rust and damage your clothes). Use outside with a retractable clothes line that fits flush against the wall when not in use (safer than rotary driers, ensure you pack away safely when not in use to avoid strangulation accidents). Wild & Stone Laundry Pegs are made from bamboo and stainless steel, and they can be composted at end of life (just remove the spring). Store in a ventilated storage basket or cloth bag inside the home, to prevent mould.
This pack of stainless steel clothes pegs are made from 316 marine-grade stainless steel. Plastic-free, they are the ideal rust-resistant alternative to plastic clothes pegs. Made to last, each pack contains 20 pegs. And when you buy from this store, 10% of profits go to help an animal sanctuary in Essex.
Do You Really Need an Iron?
Most people prefer to iron clothes that get very creased, but you don’t have to iron everything. Linen sheets are naturally crumply anyway, and most light creases will fall out, with body heat. Some people hang clothes up in the shower, and steam can iron out small creases naturally.
What’s more of concern is that nearly all ironing board covers these days are coated with Teflon, a chemical that can cause breathing difficulties in some (and could harm birds if they were nearby, when heat emits the fumes, same with any kind of cooking from nonstick pans). You can buy natural versions but most are made with lambswool (so no good for vegans). Go for a quality ironing board when replacing, for the best chance of finding something better.
How to (naturally) Prevent Mothballs
Moths in the home tend to only live on animal-based clothing (wool etc). So if you wear vegan clothes, it’s unlikely that you will be bothered. However, if you have old clothing that is attacked by moths, here are some safe and natural alternatives to chemicals. Avoid essential oils for pregnancy/nursing and near pets and young children.
- This moth-repellent aromatherapy bag is ideal to store clothes with, using natural essential oils. It’s made with sustainably-sourced French lavender, patchouli, lemongrass and eucalyptus. This creates a lovely scent that is also a natural moth repellent. To use, place the bags in your cupboards and draws (especially if you live with anyone who wears animal fibres). For best results, change every 3 months and crush the flowers often.
- Clothes with holes are from the larvae, as adult moths do not have mouths. They often leave a musty smell and webs in cupboard corners. To prevent moths, wash clothes before placing them in draws, and store in airtight containers, in a well-ventilated area. Cleaning the storage area with a solution of vinegar and water is good, as is regular vacuuming.
- To make your own natural moth repellent, just place dried herbs in a cloth and hang them in the closet or place in draws. Try dried lavender and rosemary, thyme or bay. Or mint.
Eco Alternatives to Dry Cleaning
Perc is a very nasty chemical that used in most dry-cleaning stores. It’s not just bad for the planet, but bad for the people who work in dry-cleaning stores. Modern stores use a steam-water based method. The obvious solution is to avoid clothes that need dry-cleaning. But for when you can’t avoid it, look for steam cleaning branches stead like London’s Blanc.
Reusable garment bags are increasingly used by dry cleaners and ironing companies to stop the colossal amount of plastic bag used in the garment bag industry. The bags tend to wash well in cold water and dry quickly. Three good ones are:
- Urbabag is a duffel bag that unfolds into a large suit bag, ideal for taking to the dry cleaner to pick up your clothes. It’s made from organic cotton and reclaimed plastic bottles, and also perfect for hanging clothes. Weatherproof in striking colours. If need be, wash in a microplastic catch bag to avoid fibres breaking off in the machine.
- The Green Garmento has side zips and a bottom drawstring, for easy transport. This is a US brand that was featured on Dragons’ Den and is wholesaled here (woman-owned company).
- Eco Garment Bags are the next best thing, if you wish to continue using disposables, or have no choice at present. These use a process that means the bags biodegrade within 12 months, using a groundbreaking technology using a unique technology Hydropol™️ (developed by a British company). You have to be careful with plastic companies claimining biodegradability, but this seems better than the rest.