Unraveling the Microfiber Mystery: Your Fall/Winter Wardrobes and Your Washing Machines
As the seasons change, so do our wardrobes. With the arrival of fall and soon winter, we eagerly unpack our fluffy sweaters, scarves, and jackets to stay warm and stylish. But have you ever wondered why it seems like these seasonal pieces shed more microfibers in the washing machine compared to our summer attire? In this blog, we cuddle up in the world of microfibers and how shedding of them has become a seasonal phenomenon.
Microfibers: What Are They?
Before we dive into the details of microfiber shedding, let's recap and clarify what microfibers are. Microfibers are tiny, man-made, plastic, synthetic threads, typically made of materials like polyester, nylon, or acrylic. They are commonly found in many of our clothing items, especially those designed for colder weather. These fibers are incredibly small, measuring less than one denier in thickness (a denier is a unit of measure for the linear mass density of fibers), making them difficult to see with the naked eye.
The Washing Machine Dilemma
One of the significant concerns regarding microfibers is their release during the washing process. When we toss our clothes into the washing machine, especially those made of synthetic materials, some of these tiny threads break free from the fabric. This is particularly true for fall and winter clothing, and here's why:
Fabric Types: Fall and winter clothing often consists of heavier, warmer materials like fleece, wool, and synthetic blends. These fabrics tend to shed more microfibers because of their construction. Wool, for instance, has a rough surface that can cause friction and release microfibers during agitation in the washing machine.
Increased Laundry Frequency: During the colder months, we tend to wear our clothing more frequently due to the lower temperatures. This increased wear means more trips to the washing machine, leading to a higher likelihood of microfiber shedding.
Longer Washing Cycles: In colder weather, we may choose longer washing cycles with higher agitation settings to remove dirt, sweat, and odors from our clothing. Unfortunately, this extended exposure to mechanical stress can result in more microfiber shedding.
The shedding of microfibers during the laundering process poses significant environmental concerns. These tiny plastic particles easily find their way into water bodies, presenting risks to aquatic life and potentially entering the human food chain through seafood consumption. Additionally, microfibers infiltrate groundwater, soils, and septic systems, posing multiple threats, including premature septic system failures.
Solutions and Mitigations
While we may not be able to eliminate microfiber shedding entirely, there are steps we can take to reduce its impact:
Use Microfiber Filters: Install and connect a microfiber filter, like the Filtrol, to your washing machine to trap the released fibers before they enter the wastewater system.
Wash Less Frequently: Avoid washing your clothes after every wear, especially if they are not visibly soiled. Spot clean or air them out to reduce the frequency of washing.
Choose Natural Fibers: When shopping for fall and winter clothing, opt for natural fibers like cotton, hemp, or wool, which shed fewer microfibers and have other environmental benefits.
The shedding of microfibers from fall and winter clothing in the washing machine is a real concern for the environment. Understanding why this phenomenon occurs and taking steps to mitigate its impact can help us enjoy our cozy seasonal attire while minimizing harm to the planet. By making informed choices in our clothing purchases and laundry habits, we can contribute to a cleaner and healthier environment for future generations.