During the past few months, spending most of our time at home, we have watched our fair share of documentaries, many of which highlight the environmental impact of the textile industry. Every year, the fashion industry uses 93 billion cubic meters of water, enough to meet the consumption needs of five million people.
I have to admit, I have always loved new clothing pieces — sweaters, jeans, shoes, yoga wear, and yes, even fast fashion. Yet, as I become more aware of the carbon footprint my family and I are leaving behind on this earth, I am learning how to make better choices regarding our textile purchases. When offered hand-me-downs from a family whom they can no longer benefit, I graciously accept! There are just a few additional mindful steps I need to take before putting them to good use, ensuring they are safe for Vinnie’s eczema.
Most second-hand clothing has been washed and dried numerous times. Depending on the previous family’s laundry choices, the clothes have likely come in contact with scented detergent, stain treatments, fabric softeners, and dryer sheets that are not suitable for sensitive, eczema-prone skin. These products and their irritants can stay within the garment for several washes.
Add 1 cup of white vinegar per 1 litre of warm water to a bucket or basin. Soak clothes overnight. You may wish to repeat the soaking process 2-3 times to ensure fragrances and soapy residue are removed successfully before moving on to washing.
Wash the hand-me-downs separately first. Do not include additional clothing articles in the first load; only the hand-me-downs to ensure any residue from the previous family’s laundry choices do not transfer. Use your fragrance-free laundry soap as you typically would, as well as the extra rinse option on your washing machine.
If possible, let the second-hand clothing dry in open air outside (if outside is not available to you, inside will be perfectly fine). Air drying will allow for some additional deodorizing. If the smell of scented laundry products remains on the clothing, soak, and wash again.
By taking a few additional simple, mindful steps, you are helping to make your family’s eczema journey a little easier and our world more beautiful by preventing clothing and textiles from going into our landfills and our oceans.