Removing microplastics from every laundry wash gains fast track support

Removing microplastics from every laundry wash gains fast track support

By Pamela Jolly  July 6th, 2023

The push to clean up microplastic pollution is gaining momentum as researchers look to advance filter technology.


Every time you put on a load of washing, microfibres come loose from your clothes into the water. When those clothes are made of man-made fibres like polyester, these fibres contain tiny pieces of plastic - microplastics.

A polyester fleece can shed thousands of fibres into laundry wastewater. Without a filter to remove them, microplastics enter waterways and contaminate marine environments where they can enter the food chain.

Mircroplastics are so prevalent in modern society, studies have found them in the Antarctic, marine species, human stool samples and even breast milk.

Australian scientists have been quick to share their concerns during the recent Federal Parliamentary Committee inquiry into plastic pollution in Australia’s oceans and waterways. More needs to be done with greater urgency to stop plastic pollution at the source.

However, according to the National Plastics Plan 2021, the Australian Government only plans to phase in microfibre filters on new washing machines by 2030. Seven years feels like a long time to wait, and experts agree.

Environmental toxicology expert Professor Frederic Leusch, from Griffith University’s Australian Rivers Institute, told the Australian Associated Press recently that fast-tracking washing machine filters is a “no-brainer”.

Filtering solutions already on the market include PlanetCare, Gulp and Guppyfriend washing bags. Encouragingly, Samsung Electronics announced the launch of their new and improved filter that can be fitted externally to front and top loading machines in June this year. Made from recycled plastic, it’s marketed as being able to capture 98 per cent of the microplastics released during a laundry wash and when the filter is paired with an app, the owner can be alerted to when the filter needs to be emptied.

Ashley Iredale, Team Leader – Whitegoods at Choice says there is research that points to most particles being released in the first three washes of a new garment. She says it may make sense for clothing manufacturers to be required to pre-wash the clothes they sell in a closed loop environment, where microfibres can be filtered out and disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.

Whether it comes from consumers, the fashion industry or mandated through government, pro-filter initiatives can help tip the plastic pollution scales. Strong consumer demand will increase the likelihood that governments will prioritise earlier action.

Help reduce microplastics and pollutants entering waterways

  • Run full loads and avoid using delicate wash cycles that can lead to greater microfibre output.

  • Use a greener laundry detergent. Elise has a great article to help you choose.

  • Install a filter onto your laundry hose and clear it regularly to remove microplastics.

  • Buy fewer new items and invest in durable clothing made from plastic free materials like linen, hemp, cotton or wool.

Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.


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Pamela Jolly

Pamela is a Marketing Communications professional with over 10 years experience working for both agencies and organisations in communications, travel, finance and retail industries. Pamela loves to be in nature riding a bike, skiing, appreciating the trees at her local park or exploring wild places abroad with her family.

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