Written by Naomi May
As more and more studies reveal that laundry is one of the key polluters of the environment, a buffet of brands are crafting products designed to remedy the problem. But do they work? Naomi May finds out
Disclaimer: I am a fragrance fiend. I like everything that adorns my body to smell nice, whether that be through the means of washing powder or just a few dozen heavy spritzes of my favourite perfume (Le Labo’s Lys 41, since you’re asking); so the very concept of wearing just one outfit for a week and not washing it in between jarred me. Who in their right mind would agree to this? Or, more aptly, who in their right mind would pitch this godforsaken idea in the first place? The answer is me, I would.
But while I’d be forbidden from washing my clothes in a machine with my favourite detergent and fabric softener, I could use a clothing mist to refresh the one outfit to test just how effective this new family of essential oil-based washing alternatives are at keeping odours at bay.
In the last few years alone, a new crop of brands have claimed to have made the alternative to washing clothes which, as the data suggests, is one of the most damaging aspects of the fashion industry. A study from earlier this year found microplastics throughout the Arctic Ocean, from Europe to the North Pole, with 73% of the fibres found being polyester, which is shed from laundry.
The alternative? Laundry care with a conscience. But just how much protection against commute-induced BO and wine-influenced stains can natural, vegan and biodegradable products give?
My port of call for my week sans washing was the Signature Fabric Mist by the brand The Lab Co., which was founded in 2019 by New Zealand native Josh Gilbertson. “It is estimated that 85% of textiles are thrown away, alongside 300 million pairs of shoes that end up in landfill every year,” he tells Stylist. “So, I wanted to create products that helped to prolong the lifespan of clothing and shoes and accessories that also smelled good too.”
Its vegan and plant-based product range includes the eucalyptus-infused Signature Fabric Mist, which I relied upon for a week, a moth-repelling Cedarwood Mist and a laundry detergent, which has received almost unanimous 5* reviews from recent customers. And the two-year-old brand is far from alone: in the last few years, Steamery Stockholm, The Laundress and The Clothes Doctor have all put their own spins on traditional forms of laundry products. But can a lightly-milled spray really protect against the smells born of busy life in the city?
After just another manic Monday, which featured a Barre class, several strolls to my local coffee shop and a long walk to the pub, I would usually put my T-shirt (Skims’ classic cotton iteration in black, if you’re wondering) straight onto the top of my pile of laundry. Even the strongest and most pungent deodorant in the world can’t protect against a day spent sweating in the same clothes, but this time, there’d be no washing for my Skims T-shirt. There would be just a few spritzes of The Lab Co.’s Signature Mist, which I focused on the armpits and wherever else on the shirt smelled a bit fusty.
As a born sceptic, I was truly shocked when, after just five spritzes of the spray, the underarms of my T-shirt smelled as fresh as they do post-laundry. Surely this was just a first-time fluke? But by the time Tuesday drew to a close, after another typically harried day which I spent sweating in the same Skims T-shirt, I once again doused it in The Lab Co’s mist. Miraculously my two-day worn T-shirt smelled like a bouquet of fresh flowers, which prompted me to announce in every WhatsApp group chat I’m in that I’ve found the most effective laundry spray in the world and everybody needs to try it.
The week continued in the same way until thirsty Thursday resulted in a suspicious-looking stain, which looked remarkably like the stains of a late-night snack foraged en route home from the pub. This was where the spray fell short (although it doesn’t claim to remove stains, only to neutralise bad odours). My T-shirt may have smelled as though it hadn’t spent six hours in the pub drinking copious amounts of wine, but it now didn’t look it and I instead had to employ the use of my trusty stain spray to banish the blotches from the front of the top.
By the time Friday rolled around, I felt an overwhelming urge to change my T-shirt and put a load of laundry on, but did I actually need to? No, I didn’t, but old habits die hard and all that. In fact, using a mist to lightly spray over areas of clothes that are the most in-contact with sweat worked far more effectively than I thought it would, and in the days since, I’ve adopted it as a new way of keeping fresh. My love of fragrance remains, but this time with an eco twist.
Images: courtesy of brands.
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