New Report on Microfiber Pollution from Household Laundry

Researchers from UK-based Northumbria University –  in partnership with Procter & Gamble – have carried out a forensic study into the environmental impact of microfibers from soiled household laundry. Although the study focuses on domestic laundry, it also contains useful information for professional textile care launderers.

The study has revealed that almost 13,000 tonnes of microfibers – amounting to two rubbish trucks every day – are being released into European seas every year by household laundry. This quantity could be reduced by as much as 30% if households made small changes to their laundry habits. For instance, if changed to cooler, faster washes,  it would prevent many tonnes of microfibers to be released into the sea ecosystems. The researchers also found that high-efficiency machines release less microfibers.

Expanding on the conclusions of the report, international research in 2017 already confirmed that industrial textile cleaning could be a sustainable alternative for household laundry. It was established that domestic washing/cleaning of textiles contributes 30% to the total amount of synthetic microfibers that end up in the ecosystem. Industrial cleaning hardly contributes to that 30% with an estimated small 0.03%. All in all, professional cleaning seems to be the most sustainable choice! (The paper ‘Microfiber Release from Real Soiled Consumer Laundry and Impact of Fabric Care Products and Washing Conditions’ is available through PLOS ONE).