The clothes you’re wearing can release more microfibers into the environment than washing them does. Researchers at National Research Council of Italy and the University of Plymouth in the UK found that wearing clothes can release more than 900 million polyester microfibers per year into the air.
Their findings were published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
Microfibers Released Into the Environment From Clothes
The researchers’ team found that up to 300 million polyester microfibers per year can be released into the environment by washing clothes by one person. This current study showed that wearing clothes can release much more microfibers into the environment. They also found how clothes were designed and manufactured played a role in how much microfibers were released.
In the study, four different types of garments were washed at 40°C. Any release fibers were collected and recorded. The researchers found that between 700 and 4,000 individual fibers could be released per gram of fabric during a single wash.
Microfibers Shed Into Air From Wearing Clothes
To look at fibers in clothes being worn, volunteers wore four types of garments separately in a clean lab. They performed movements that simulated daily moments in real life activities. Fibers released during the activities were collected. The results showed 400 fibers being released per gram of fabric in just 20 minutes.
Polyester/Cotton Garment the Worst
The polyester/cotton garment released the greatest amount of fibers during both washing and wearing. A woven polyester garment released the least quantity of microfibers.
The researchers said their study showed that microfibers released in clothes being worn by people are similar in the order of magnitude of microfibers released into the water during washing laundry.
They also said that one crucial message from the study results is that textile design can play an important role in determining how much fibers are released from clothes during washing and wearing.