Global laundering practices: Alternatives to machine washing
Kirsi Laitala, Ingun Grimstad Klepp & Beverly Henry
This article discusses laundering practices around the world including alternative methods such as washing by hand, airing, steaming, and dry-cleaning. These methods, which have received little attention in research, are often more suited to products made of wool, silk or other materials able to be cleaned using gentler techniques than more commonly used fibers such as cotton and synthetics. The material is based on extensive literature review from the past 20 years and reanalysis of previously unpublished survey data. The results show that washing by hand is common and that is the main laundering method in most rural areas of developing countries, but also significant for smaller portion of laundry in developed countries. Dry cleaning is less common, and mainly used for specific clothing items. Simple method such as airing can reduce the washing frequency, and thus reduce the environmental impacts resulting from the cleaning of clothes.
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