Mila de Souza
The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Microfibers in Your Laundry Routine
Microfibers! Microfibers are a growing problem affecting our everyday lives. The worst part? You don’t even know it. Microfibers are small plastic particles that are invisible to the naked eye, but we eat them, drink them and even breathe them in- causing serious health issues for our bodies.
There are two types of microfibers: primary and secondary. Primary microfibers are microfibers released into the environment as microfibers and secondary microfibers are created when bigger fibers are broken down. Let’s talk about primary microfibers and the washing machine. 35% of the microfibers in our ocean originate from textiles and a large portion from our washing machines.
Due to their availability, durability, and affordability, many textile companies have begun using synthetic materials to craft garments. While polyester is the most popular, acrylic and nylon are some other examples of synthetic materials. Today, 60% of clothing is made with synthetic materials.
Wondering which of your clothes are made with synthetic materials? Check the tag! The companies always list the materials and the percentage of each if there are multiple kinds used in the garment. You may be surprised by how much of your closet is made with synthetic materials- I know I was! Now the problem with these synthetic materials is that when they are manufactured, washed, and worn, they shed microfibers. When we wash clothes, an average of 9 million microfibers are released into our wastewater- eventually entering our oceans.
Sustainable Shopping Made Simple
So what can we do?
Company: Guppyfriend ($34.95)
Description: Guppyfriend is a bag to hold your clothes while they are in the washing machine. The bag collects microfibers during the washing cycle.
Pros: Filters fibers but also helps preserve your clothes from losing fibers themselves.
Cons: Only available in a medium-sized bag, but it is just needed for synthetic pieces, so you may not need a bag bigger than a medium.
Company: The Filtrol ($160)
Description: The Filtrol is a filter that attaches to your pipes preventing microfibers from passing.
Pros: 30-minute installation.
Cons: At $160, it is one of the most expensive solutions available.
Company: Coraball ($42 each)
Description: The Coraball is a microfiber filter inspired by coral. The coraball catches microfibers before they exit your machine.
Pros: Does not require installation or any significant change to your washing routine.
Cons: Reasonably priced, but they recommend buying three- a $126 solution in total. Just one Coraball is only 26% effective.
Company: The Lint LUV-R ($140)
Description: The Lint LUV-R is a dynamic filter that cleans water after it has left the washing machine but before it leaves your house.
Pros: Guaranteed to protect your plumbing, septic system and marine environments.. No need to buy a replacement filter- only requires cleaning every 10-15 loads.
Cons: Requires installation, costly.
Company: Mesh Washing Filter, (~$8 each)
Description: There are different brands and companies offering these bad
Pros: Most cost-efficient solution.
Cons: Not as effective. Requires more than one per load for max effectiveness. The traps require cleaning.
As you can see, there are a lot of options for removing microfibers from your washing routine. Some are more expensive than others as well as varying levels of effectiveness, but it is important to do what works for you and your budget. Personally, I will be buying a mesh washing filter. While it is not the most effective, it is what makes the most sense for me financially right now until I can afford something like The Filtrol. While I dream of a Filtrol, the mesh washing filter is still better than what I am currently doing to prevent microfibers in my laundry: nothing!
A sustainable lifestyle does not have to be all or nothing- it just has to work for you!
Milagros de Souza (Mila) has always had a commitment to sustainability, but it was not until she began an in-depth study of intersectional sustainability within her major in college that she realized how much the world needs sustainability. Mila has held roles at a number of sustainability-aligned organizations, but she is now stepping out as CEO and Founder of her own company, The Clothing Library, a clothing rental model that makes sustainable fashion more accessible.