Washing your clothes is one of life’s necessary ordeals: You want to keep your wardrobe clean and fresh, but there’s always the risk of a t-shirt shrinking or your jeans slowly losing their shape.
But is it really a mandatory task? Not according to fashion designer Stella McCartney. In an interview with the Observer Magazine, McCartney talked about her time studying tailoring on Savile Row, saying: "The rule on a bespoke suit is you do not clean it. You do not touch it. You let the dirt dry and you brush it off.
"Basically, in life, rule of thumb: If you don’t absolutely have to clean anything, don’t clean it. I wouldn’t change my bra every day and I don’t just chuck stuff into a washing machine because it’s been worn. I am incredibly hygienic myself, but I’m not a fan of dry cleaning or any cleaning, really."
This is good news for anyone who wants to do their bit for the planet by saving on water and electricity, not to mention those of us who are too lazy to chuck a load in the wash.
Dry cleaning has more of an environmental impact than washing your clothes at home because it often uses chemical pollutants to get the job done. But even using a washing machine can have an impact; they use a lot of water and electricity, and many clothes release microfibres when washed, which can find their way into the sea. Using a dryer guzzles up even more energy – air drying your clothes is the more eco-friendly option.
2/3rds of the clothes that we buy contain plastic. When we wash these clothes little fibres – known as microplastics – are released & washed down the drain. Shorter washes & washing less often can help reduce the number of microfibres getting into our environment. #WarOnPlastic— Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (@HughFW) June 17, 2019
However, it might not be as easy as just brushing dirt off your clothes and calling it a day, because other stuff can accumulate on fabric when we don’t wash it. According to Dermascope unwashed clothes tend to have sweat and oils secreted into them, which can clog your skin’s pores and potentially cause body acne when you put them back on.
There’s also the issue of odour – which can’t just be brushed away. Of course, body odour is different for everyone, but if you’re more prone to sweating and smelling, not washing your clothes isn’t really an option, the same goes if you’ve got a stain to deal with.
We could all probably learn a little from McCartney though, and not just automatically put clothes in the laundry basket as soon as we’ve worn them – they’re unlikely to be stained, smelly or too gross after just one wear.
I need:— Sarah Kay (@kaysarahsera) July 30, 2018
1 closet for clean clothes
1 closet for clothes i have worn once but didn't sweat in & have smell tested & could def wear again before needing to wash them, but also don’t want to put them back in the closet with the truly clean clothes
Do y'all wash your clothes after each single wear? I’m probably telling on myself but I only wash my shirts and pants when they don’t smell fresh. But I wash my underclothes frequently, obviously.— Missy (@Missy314) November 24, 2018
Maybe there’s a balance to be found here, between hygiene and helping the environment.