How to wash right

A guide to more sustainable clothes care. 

8 Simple steps towards more sustainable washing

Did you know that washing, drying and ironing account for the bulk of a garment´s total environmental impact? Through small, simple gestures, we can reduce our carbon footprint and make a big difference to the environment.

  1. Start by asking yourself if the clothes really need washing. In many cases it is enough to simply treat the stain area, or hang the garment out to air.
  2. Wash full loads of laundry, but don´t overfill the machine.
  3. If the garment is only lightly solid, wash at a lower temperature. Remember that the temperature given in the care instructions is the highest temperature the garment can be withstand.
  4. Use an eco-labelled detergent, but don´t use too much.
  5. Avoid Fabric softeners. Fabric softernes contain substances that have a harmful effect on our environment.
  6. Air-dry or line-dry your laundry instead of using a tumble dryer.
  7. To avoid having to iron your laundry, remove the clothes from the washing machine quickly. Give them a shake and hang them up on a drying rack to reduce wrinkles and creases. 
  8. Avoid dry cleaning where possible. Most dry cleaning methods have a harmful effect on the environment. 

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Guide to a more sustainable wash

By being more environmentally conscious with your laundry, you can extend the life of your clothes, protect the environment and also save money. 

Avoid washing

  • A number of studies show that more often than not we wash our clothes unnecessarily. In most cases simply treating the stain area or hanging the garment out to air is enough to freshen it up. By cutting the number of unnecessary washes you do, you can actively help to reduce our impact on the environment and save water resources.
  • When you do need to wash your clothes, remember to choose an economy programme. In a machine wash, most electricity goes towards heating the water. Economy programmes are set to run at a lower temperature with a longer washing time to reduce energy consumption.
  • If the clothes are only lightly soiled, select a quick programme and avoid the pre-wash setting. Pre-washing is only necessary for heavily soiled laundry.

Wash a full load

  • Start by sorting your laundry by colour and temperature. Always wash a full load – it takes less energy to run a full wash than several half-empty ones.
  • Remember not to overfill the washing machine. A too well-packed load can wear out the machine. As a general rule of thumb, you should be able to fit a clenched fist between the clothes and the drum.

Adapt the temperature

  • The temperature indicated in the care instructions is the highest temperature the garment can be washed at without compromising its quality. Remember that it is not always necessary to wash at this temperature.
  • If the garments are only lightly soiled, it may suffice to choose a lower temperature and save energy. Most laundry detergents and modern washing machines are so efficient that they can clean garments at lower temperatures.
  • You can save nearly half of the energy needed for a wash by lowering the temperature from 60°c till 30°c.

Choice of detergent 

  • Use an eco-labelled laundry detergent that is free from environmentally hazardous phosphates, and avoid those that contain chlorine or chlorine compounds. When discharged into waterways, phosphates contribute to the eutrophication of our lakes and seas.
  • Choose washing powder rather than liquid detergents. Liquid detergents contain preservatives that can be allergenic.
  • Measure the detergent as advised on its package instructions. Don’t use more detergent than needed – using too much detergent won’t make your laundry any cleaner.

Avoid fabric softeners

  • Avoid fabric softeners. Many fabric softeners contain environmentally hazardous surfactants and allergenic perfumes. These are difficult for water treatment plants to break down and are a burden on the environment.
  • Fabric softeners help to reduce static electricity. Try to use only eco-labelled fabric softeners, and only on materials that can become static, such as polyester.

Air-dry laundry

  • To save energy, avoid tumble-drying or hanging laundry in drying cabinets. Avoiding tumble-drying also helps the clothes to keep their shape better and last longer.

Don´t iron unnecessarily

  • To reduce wrinkles in your laundry, hang up the clothes as soon as the washing programme has ended.
  • You can also hang the laundry in the bathroom when you take a shower; the steam formed when you shower helps to diminish any wrinkles and creases.

Avoid dry cleaning

  • Avoid dry cleaning clothes where possible. Many dry cleaning methods have a harmful effect on our environment.
  • When dry cleaning can’t be avoided, ask your dry cleaner about more environmentally friendly methods, or find out if there are any “greener” dry cleaning alternatives nearby.

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Clothes care before washing

To prevent damage to other items in the laundry, zips, Velcro and other fasteners on garments should all be closed. Remove all loose items such as belts and other accessories before washing. Use a laundry wash bag for delicates or garments with trimmings.

Bras

  • Bras with metal clasps may damage the washing machine. This risk is reduced if the bra is sealed in a laundry bag.
  • KappAhl recommends handwashing bras that have clasps.

Prints

  • Clothes with prints should be turned inside out to keep the print looking good.

Denim/Jeans

  • To maintain your jeans’ unique look, wash them as little as possible. In a first instance, try airing them or spot-treating a stain.
  • Always wash your jeans inside out and with similar colours. This is particularly important with darker jeans.
  • Laundry “streaks” on jeans can be caused by fold creases that occur when the clean laundry is left lying in the washing machine for a long time. To avoid discolouration, hang up the jeans to dry as soon as the washing programme has finished.
  • Always hang jeans up to dry. Do not tumble dry.

Silk

  • Silk is a delicate natural fibre that requires proper care. When washed gently, the garment will retain its fine quality.
  • Wash with a mild detergent free from bleaching agents and enzymes and avoid fabric softeners.
  • Never leave silk garments to soak.
  • If a machine wash is recommended, avoid a spin cycle. Instead, you can try placing a towel on the garment and carefully pressing out the water.
  • Either hang the garment to dry, or dry flat.

Viscose

  • Garments made of viscose should be hung up to dry, as viscose can easily lose its shape when wet.
  • You can reshape the garment by gently stretching it while it is still damp.

Wool

  • Where possible, avoid washing wool garments; in most cases simply airing the garment is enough to freshen it up.
  • Wash wool by hand or using the recommended washing machine programme.
  • Use a mild detergent free from bleaching agents and enzymes.
  • Remember that wool can become matted when worked too hard, and can shrink in sharp changes of temperature.

Knitted garments

  • To prevent runs in delicate knitted garments, use a laundry bag.
  • Dry the garment on a flat surface after washing to ensure it retains its shape.

Down garments

  • Wash down garments as advised in their care instructions.
  • Dry the garment in a tumble dryer with a couple of tennis balls to help fluff the down as it dries.

Rainwear

  • Rainwear is a particularly technical type of garment. A variety of coatings are used in the production of rainwear. Seams are welded or taped so that they remain waterproof.
  • Wash rainwear items as little as possible.
  • Avoid fabric softeners when washing as these can reduce breathability.
  • Polyurethane-coated rainwear should not be dry cleaned as these garments do not withstand dry cleaning fluid.
  • Avoid tumble trying unless otherwise indicated in the care instructions.

Multi-coloured garments

  • Be extra careful with garments that contain both dark and light shades. If no specific advice is given in the care instructions, for example “wash separately”, multi-coloured garments should be sorted based on the garment’s dominant colour.

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Clothes care after washing

With the right post-wash clothes care, you can extend the life of your clothes.

Ironing

  • If you choose to iron, follow the garment’s care instructions for ironing.
  • Sort your laundry before ironing, separating cotton and synthetic garments – these require different temperatures.
  • Avoid ironing zips, buttons or other details on your garment.
  • Also remember to clean your iron regularly.

Shirts

  • Shirts retain their shape best it they are hung on a clothes hanger.
  • However, if you need to fold your shirt, here’s what to do: Do up all the buttons and lay the shirt front-down. Place a magazine under the collar in the middle of the shirt. Fold one side in towards the middle, take the sleeve and fold it down in parallel with the back. Repeat for the other side. Fold the lower part of the shirt up towards the back of the collar and remove the magazine. Turn the shirt over and the job is done.

Sweaters

  • Don’t hang sweaters on a clothes hanger as they can easily stretch and get unsightly marks from the clothes hanger.
  • Fold sweaters in the same way as shirts (see above).

Trousers

  • Ideally, trousers should be hung.
  • If the trousers have a crease, fold them along the crease and hang them up over the horizontal bar of the hanger, or use a clip hanger.

Skirts

  • Skirts retain their shape best it they are hung. Use the small loops that are usually sewn into a skirt’s waistband to hang it on a clothes hanger.
  • If the skirt has no hanging loops, use a clip hanger to hang it.

Dresses

  • Dresses with linings are best hung inside out. Linings are usually made of a synthetic material and provide good protection against dust, dirt and wrinkles.

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Stain removal

Steering clear of strong stain removers is a simple way to care for the environment. Stains can often be removed just as effectively using a few drops of washing-up liquid or ordinary household products.

Check the garment care label before attempting to remove stains. To ensure the garment will not be damaged, test colourfastness on a hidden part of the garment.

Blood

  • Leave to soak in cold salt water.
  • If you are not able to soak the garment, sprinkle salt onto the stain and leave it to work.
  • If this doesn’t help, try using some soap.

Ink/Marker pen

  • Apply citric acid solution or methylated spirits to the stain. Remember that citric acid and methylated spirits can bleach the garment.

Chocolate

  • Wash in soap or milk and rinse in cold water.
  • Pre-treat older stains with lemon juice for more effective stain removal.

Grease

  • Sprinkle potato starch onto the stain and leave it to work overnight. Brush away the starch.
  • If the stain remains, try washing it with soap and warm water.

Fruit/Berries

  • Rinse the stain immediately in cold water.
  • If the stain does not disappear, apply some citric acid solution. Use a half-teaspoon of citric acid per 100 ml water. Remember that citric acid can bleach the garment.

Grass

  • Try to remove the stain with alcohol or methylated spirits.
  • You can also try rubbing the stain with glycerol before washing.

Coffee

  • Rinse fresh stains in cold water.
  • If the garment allows, try loosening dried-in stains on white garments with boiling hot water. For coloured garments, dried-in stains can be loosened with lukewarm water.

Tea

  • Cold water removes fresh stains.
  • Dried-in stains can be loosened in boiling hot water or milk.

Lipstick

  • Leave to soak in water before washing.
  • Rub washing-up liquid into the stain and remove any remnants with methylated spirits.

Soft drinks

  • Rinse the stain in cold water.
  • Sprinkle salt over the damp stain and leave it to work.
  • If the stain remains, wash as advised in the garment’s care instructions.

Cooking oil

  • Dampen the stain and treat with washing-up liquid.

Mould

  • Place the garment in soured milk for 24 hours.
  • Then wash as advised in the care instructions.

Nail polish

  • Dab the stain with acetone.
  • Note! Do not use on garments that contain acetate as acetate fibres are sensitive and will dissolve when treated with acetone.

Oil

  • Soften the stain with water and rub with washing-up liquid.
  • Leave to work for a few hours before washing.

Makeup

  • Wash in warm water or dab the stain with washing-up liquid.

Rust

  • Dilute citric acid in water and apply to the stain.
  • Cover with a cloth and leave to work. Repeat until the stain has been removed.

Soy sauce

  • Rinse the garment in hot water and leave the stain to loosen. Change the water frequently.

Candle wax

  • Place the garment in the freezer and leave to harden.
  • Remove the garment and then break off as much of the wax as possible.
  • Place kitchen roll or coffee filters on both sides of the wax remnants and iron over the paper. The wax will melt into the paper rather than the fabric.
  • If the wax has left a grease stain, treat as advised in the grease stain instructions (see above).

Sweat

  • Treat the stain with glycerol before washing.

Tomato sauce

  • Rinse immediately in cold water and then soak the stain in glycerine.

Chewing gum

  • Leave the chewing gum to harden in the freezer.
  • Remove the garment and try to break off the chewing gum.
  • Any remnants of the chewing gum can be removed with vinegar or pure alcohol.

Wine

  • For red wine stains, sprinkle salt or potato starch onto the stain immediately.
  • Leave to work and then rinse with water.
  • Remove white wine stains using cold water or boiling milk, if the garment allows.

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Extend the life of your clothes

To achieve a sustainable textile consumption we need to help our clothes live longer. By showing your clothes that extra bit of love, and by treating them the right way – before and after washing – you will be able to enjoy your clothes longer while also reducing the impact on the environment.

On average, we use each garment for 2.2 years. If we can make each piece of clothing last three months longer, we will have reduced our environmental impact, use of water, waste and – not least – cut our personal spends considerably.

Resource-saving measure

Climate

Water

Waste

Financial

10 per cent longer life (equivalent to 3 months)

8 %

10 %

9 %

9 %

33 per cent longer life (equivalent to 3 months)

27 %

33 %

22 %

22 %

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Laundry care symbols

At clevercare.info you can find simple tips on how to reduce your environmental impact by looking after your clothes in a more environmentally conscious way.

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Textile collecting

Wear, love and give back! Several thousand tonnes of clothes, shoes and other textiles are thrown away every year in the household rubbish, and much of this ends up in landfill. Almost all of the textiles that are thrown away could be used in a better way. That’s why we’re giving you the chance to hand in your old textiles easily and conveniently at any KappAhl store.

We accept any type of clothes and household textiles, regardless of their condition or brand. As a thank you, you will receive a gift voucher that you can use the next time you shop with us.

More than half of what is handed in can still be used, which is the best option, environmentally speaking. What can’t be reused is recycled. The textiles are ground down and the fibres can be used new textiles or other materials such as cloths and insulation. The small amount that can neither be reused nor recycled – about three per cent – is incinerated as an energy source.

 

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Download the How to Wash Right guide (pdf) 

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More sustainable fashion in your wardrobe

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