Reducing Microplastic Pollution: A Guide to Eco-Friendly Textile Care at Home

Reducing Microplastic Pollution: A Guide to Eco-Friendly Textile Care at Home

Microplastics are tiny particles of plastic that measure less than 5mm, and they're found in a variety of products, including cosmetics, cleaning products, and textiles. In textiles, microplastics are shed from synthetic fibers during the washing process. These particles then enter our waterways and oceans, where they can cause damage to marine life and enter the food chain.

The impact of microplastics on the environment is still being studied, but it is clear that they are a growing problem. Microplastics can enter the human body through ingestion, inhalation, and even through our skin. Once in the body, microplastics can accumulate and potentially cause health problems.

Textiles are one of the largest contributors to microplastic pollution. Synthetic fibers, such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic, shed microplastics when they are washed. One study found that a single load of laundry could release up to 700,000 microplastic fibers into the environment.

I don't share this information to cause undue worry or stress.  Living a low-stress life is essential for good health! So don't worry, there are simple steps we can take to reduce our impact on microplastic pollution.

Firstly, we can choose natural fibers over synthetic fibers. Natural fibers, such as cotton, linen, and wool, do not shed microplastics.  Their shedding is of natural composition and will biodegrade back into the earth. By choosing natural fibers, we can reduce our impact on the environment and reduce our exposure to microplastics.

Another way to reduce our impact is to reduce the frequency of washing our clothes.  I am not suggesting that you toss out your athletic clothing or synthetic goods already in your home, but perhaps washing some of those items only when necessary is a start.  The more frequently we wash our synthetic based clothes and synthetic goods, the more microplastics we release into the environment. By wearing clothes multiple times before washing them, we can reduce our impact on the environment and save water and energy in the process. 

Here are a few other tips:

  1. Wash with cold water: Washing clothes with cold water can help reduce the shedding of microplastics. Hot water can cause synthetic fibers to break down and shed more microplastics during the washing process.

  2. Avoid using fabric softeners: Fabric softeners can contribute to microplastic pollution as they contain chemicals that can be harmful to the environment. Instead, opt for natural alternatives such as white vinegar or wool dryer balls to soften your clothes.  I love throwing lavendar sachets into the dryer to add a nice natural scent to my clothing.  If static is a concern, do not througly dry items prone to static.  Instead, dry them until slightly damp and then hang them to dry (or skip the dryer completely!).

  3. Hang dry or use a low-heat setting: Tumble drying clothes can cause synthetic fibers to shed more microplastics. Whenever possible, hang dry your clothes or use a low-heat setting on your dryer to reduce microplastic pollution.  As stated above, this will also reduce static cling!

  4. Repair and repurpose textiles: Extend the life of your textiles by repairing them when needed and repurposing them into new items. This reduces the need for new textiles and helps reduce the overall demand for synthetic fibers.

  5. Educate yourself and others: Stay informed about the issue of microplastics in textiles and share your knowledge with others. By raising awareness and advocating for solutions, we can work towards reducing microplastic pollution (and hopefully reducing the demand through education!).

Remember, small changes in our textile care routine can make a big difference in reducing microplastic pollution. Let's do our part to protect our environment and create a sustainable future for generations to come.

If you found this blog helpful, please pass it along to some friends!


Napper, I.E., Bakir, A., Rowland, S.J., & Thompson, R.C. (2015). Characterisation, quantity and sorptive properties of microplastics extracted from cosmetics. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 99(1-2), 178-185. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2015.07.029

Browne, M.A., Crump, P., Niven, S.J., Teuten, E., Tonkin, A., Galloway, T., & Thompson, R. (2011). Accumulation of microplastic on shorelines worldwide: Sources and sinks. Environmental Science & Technology, 45(21), 9175-9179. doi:10.1021/es201811s

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