The Benefits Of Hand Washing

One my favourite revelations about country living is the seemingly more abundant free time available. When you’re not tempted to pop out every half an hour you have far more hours in your day, not to mention a greater sense of resourcefulness. Then there’s the reality of relying on a water tank. Lovely in theory (with softer water and no bills), but when there’s been a drought all summer you quickly learn to be stringent with your water use.

All of which are perfect reasons to be an adult and hand wash the things that need it. You’ll save water and give your more delicate clothing the care it needs. It’s a soothing, repetitive task that is perfect for a Saturday morning. I always use the institution that is Sunlight soap for my hand washing. With an appealingly traditional non-scent and that fantastically unchanged packaging, these sunny yellow bars are all you need to get your delicates, knitwear and silks clean. Not to mention they are so economical.

It’s a pretty idiot-proof process – immerse a bar of Sunlight Soap in a bucket, tub or sink of warm water then proceed to gently handwash your pieces. I usually go from lights to darks in case of any dye running. Some bits and pieces  fare well when soaked for a while. And it’s best to do your knitwear at the end, as it soaks up so much of the water.

Saving money on the basics means you can spend more on more indulgent necessities. Life is far too short to buy cheap, unappealing underwear – and naturally I have a huge weakness for Lonely lingerie, it being what I wear day in and day out. Delicate, investment lingerie that’s made to be seen naturally requires a good care routine – it will last far longer and stay in better condition when hand washed. Washing machines and dryers chew up and traumatise your delicates – far better to be gentle. Not to mention you can enjoy the attention to detail and beautiful elements as you go.

Likewise knitwear also benefits from proper care. Obviously try to avoid any knit blends as they will pill like there’s no tomorrow. But even pure wool knits will look far better when hand washed. Do so rarely, only when really necessary, and your jumpers will have incredible longevity. One of my cashmere sweaters is more than 30 years old and still going strong. Needless to say it has always been hand washed. Also both dry and store flat to preserve the shape. Nothing looks worse than a delicate sweater with hanger marks at the shoulders.

As far as the impact of clothing goes, it’s actually the ongoing care of a garment that contributes to the majority of its carbon footprint. Minimising the amount you wash it (where possible) and the method is the best way to reduce this and have a clearer conscience. Likewise, the thing that wears out a garment most is actually the washing process – so take it easy and have a gentler approach.

 x

– Emma Gleason, Undone Girl

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