Caring for your clothes & the planet - A/W '20

Investing in beautiful, lifelong pieces of clothing is an important step when creating a sustainable and lasting wardrobe, but perhaps more importantly is knowing how to take good care of them. I once retrieved what was my-treasured-first-ever cashmere jumper from the dry cleaners looking like a burnt bit of toast - an odd shaped, dried out mess (yes I know, please get the violins out). In the days before the words sustainability and fashion met, there was only one place that jumper was going …

It is estimated that £140 million worth of clothing ends up in the landfill each year. In the UK alone, the average lifetime for a piece of clothing is estimated at just 2.2 years. So lets save your jumpers, and the environment, starting with two favourite winter fabrics:

Wool & Cashmere

Tis the (jumper) season! Let's start with wool. It is an incredible fabric, warmer and more elasticated than most other fibres, it actually has the ability to clean itself due to it containing the natural wax Lanolin, meaning it won’t need washing as frequently as other fabrics. Cashmere ... is expensive. Unlike wool which can come from a variety of animals, cashmere comes from the fine, under hair of cashmere goats. Its fine fibres make it lighter than wool, and around 8 times warmer! But they are very similar care-wise

Before washing

Particularly wool, due to its Lanolin content, can go much longer without a wash, but cashmere doesn't need washing after each wear. They will last so much longer for this. Spot clean any stains and refresh by hanging the garment outside, or by steaming it (a steamy bathroom works wonders!)


By hand, or on the hand-wash setting on your washing machine, and only use hand-wash detergent. If you don't trust your machine, or are just extra cautious - pop the garment in a pillowcase and seal it before placing it in the drum and ensure the temp setting is set at its lowest


Wool and cashmere shape as they dry, so it's important not to hang them. Firstly, remove excess water by gently rolling the garment in a towel and then lay it on a flat surface to dry - aptly named flat-drying


Heavier pieces are best folded rather than hung, so they hold their shape. If you like to stow them away during the warmer months (remember those?), then choose a clean place that is free from damp and away from sunlight. Seal your knitwear in a breathable, zip-up bag, along with a couple of cedar wood balls or a few drops of essential oils to help keep them fresh (and the moths away)


Wool, and even more so cashmere, will bobble with wear. You can carefully remove pills with a fabric comb, they're relatively cheap and will keep your garments looking like new for years to come - I get mine from Clothes Doctor

Maintaining clothes for longer periods of time is much more sustainable, will work out cheaper than replacing fast fashion pieces regularly, and the care guidelines for these fabrics are also eco-friendly and can be incorporated into use for your whole wardrobe - roughly 1/4 of a garment's environmental impact will happen after it arrives in your home, here are a few pointers on lowering that number for all of your clothes

Wash less - items not worn next to the skin won't usually need washing after one use

Fill her up - a half load uses almost as much energy and detergent as a full one

Keep it cool - a low temperature reduces micro-plastic fibre release and CO2 emissions

And short - shorter cycles mean less wear and tear on your garments and less of that micro-plastic and CO2 business

Don't tumble - tumble drying will increase wear and tear and CO2 emissions, hanging to dry is best

Store wisely - durable wooden hangers will support clothing structure and breathable bags for longterm storage will help keep your clothes in great condition

Repair - there are so many talented people that can repair tears and holes, and even tailor items to suit your changing shape and style in the years to come

And that's about it, just small changes that add up and ensure that your wardrobe is an investment for both you and the environment. Let me know if you have any other tips below!


originally published 09/12/2020 by Bohème Tea ©

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