GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag FAQ
- ▼What material is the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag made of?
- The GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag is made entirely of polyester, including woven tape, edging tape and zip. This makes it recyclable by type. The filter material is untreated, undyed and contains no additives. The fabric is made of monofilaments. These resemble sticks rather than threads and do not lose any fibres themselves.
- ▼Where is the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag made?
- Short transport routes are important to us, which is why our GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bags are produced fairly and sustainably in Europe. Our filter fabric comes from Italy, the other materials from Portugal. Our sewing factories that produce the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag are located in Portugal und Poland. The design and printing of the packaging are made in Germany.
- ◄Why doesn't the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag itself shed any microplastics?
- Although the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag is made out of polyester, it does not lose any microplastic itself. The reason for this is the special structure of the yarn and its properties. The yarn of our filter material consists of a single strand of thread, a so-called monofilament. The yarn is therefore more like a stable stick that cannot unravel and lose microplastic fibres. In addition, the strand of yarn is round, smooth and the material is particularly resistant to alkalis. This results in a very tough and stable fabric that does not rub off and is not affected by washing detergents.
This differs from the yarns used for textiles. They usually consist of several strands of thread that are twisted together. With use and washing, the yarns unravel over time, causing them to lose tiny microplastic fibres.
- ◄How big are the microfibres that break off during washing? Why can the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag even catch fibres that are smaller than its openings?
- During the washing process, all garments lose fibres. The fibres break from the structure of the fabric due to mechanical stress and abrasion. The broken fibres are typically 50 µm to 15 mm long and usually no thicker than 10 µm. 1µm = 0.001 mm or about 0.000039 inch. They could theoretically slip through the small openings of the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag. But they do not. To get through the opening, the fibre would have to poke vertically through the fabric. However, due to the water in and around the bag and the movement, the fibres are never positioned vertically, but always slightly bent. Therefore, they cannot pierce through the mesh. Even if a fibre should stick out of the fabric, it will be pushed back into the bag.
- ◄What sizes are available?
- At the moment we offer the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag in the standard size M, which is 50 x 74 cm. According to our tests, the Medium bag is the most effective size for household use. In a larger bag, more microfibres would break off due to the greater friction. For larger amounts of laundry, it therefore, makes sense to use two medium bags instead of one large one. In addition, there should still be enough space in the laundry drum to wash a few loose (non-synthetic) laundry items in addition to the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag. This will prevent any possible imbalance. As soon as other sizes are available we will inform you on our website and social media channels.
- ◄Does the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag really work? Who tested it and what were the results?
- The GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag was tested over a period of three years by scientific institutes, universities, representatives of the outdoor and textile industry, as well as retailers. These tests serve as a basis for offering the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag as a temporary solution against microplastic pollution. In particular, we have tested with the following scientific and independent institutes:
• German Textile Research Centre North-West, DTNW
• Fraunhofer Institute UMSICHT
• University of California at Santa Barbara as part of the Patagonia research programme.
The GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag prevents fibre loss during washing in two ways:
1. The GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag drastically reduces the number of fibres that break off.
Tests by the Fraunhofer Institute UMSICHT showed on average:
a) 79% with partly synthetic clothes
b) 86% with completely synthetic clothing. Thus, the clothing can be worn much longer.
2. In addition to being gentle on clothing, broken plastic fibers are also retained.This results in the Guppyfriend Wash Bag reducing microplastic fiber pollution by over 90%, mostly close to 100%.
Other test results:
• No toxic residues were found on the product.
• The bags can withstand 50 household washes according to ISO 6330 without damage and do not release any microplastic particles into the water themselves (Note: when used correctly, the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag can also be used beyond the tested number of 50 washes).
• Cleanliness after washing: Blood, ketchup and chocolate are washed out without any problems. The washing effect of skin grease and clay is sufficient.
• The number of broken fibres depends on the washing conditions and the clothes themselves.
The GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag significantly reduces fibre breakage. The fibres that break off during washing are retained in the bag. The clothes become clean and - if the wash bag is used correctly - it can be used for a long time to keep microplastics out of our rivers and oceans. Click here for the test results.
- ◄What are the profits from the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag sales used for?
With the profits from the sale of the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bags, we supported the STOP! Plastic Academy of the non-profit organization STOP! Micro Waste gUG. With the STOP! Plastik Academy, workshops are held for educational institutions to raise awareness about (micro)plastic pollution. To this day, GUPPYFRIEND supports events and activities of STOP! Micro Waste gUG.
You can find more information at www.stopmicrowaste.com.
- ◄What clothes belong in the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag?
- We developed the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag to help reduce the amount of microplastic fibres entering the environment. These break off, for example, when washing synthetic textiles (polyester, acrylic, nylon, etc.). It therefore makes sense to wash particularly these textiles in the bag. Fleece jackets, sportswear and outdoor clothing are often made entirely or to a large extent of synthetic fibres, but most other garments also contain a certain amount of synthetics. You can check the care label to see what your garments are made of.
However, clothes made of pure cotton and wool can also be washed in the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag, because textiles made of natural materials also lose fibres. Washing in the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag significantly reduces fibre breakage and thus protects your clothes from wear and tear. You can enjoy your clothes much longer - another sustainable advantage of the Guppyfriend Washing Bag.
By the way: Unfortunately, synthetic fibres may even be present in clothes if they are not indicated on the care label. The rules for listing the components on care labels vary widely, thus a jumper labelled as 100% wool may contain up to 10% of synthetic fibres.
- ◄What is the best detergent to use with the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag?
- To protect your clothes and for a good wash result, we recommend using a liquid detergent, ideally made from natural ingredients. Washing powders often contain abrasive particles that cause more fibre breakage and can leave deposits on your laundry. But whether you use washing powder or liquid detergent, in both cases it is important to pay attention to the dosage. Too much detergent damages your clothes and the environment.
Only natural detergents without synthetics, such as abrasive particles, gel and skin-forming agents, gums and silicones, opacifiers, acrylates and cross-polymers are not problematic. If you use washing powder, please make sure that it does not contain any liquid plastics or rubbers (xanthan gum) or abrasive particles and that the detergent is well dissolved before it gets onto the laundry.
Since liquid detergent is mainly sold in plastic packaging, you can also fill your own liquid detergent in many zero-waste shops, which of course improves the eco-balance even more.
By the way: The GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag also works with washing eggs or washing nuts. However, any solid object washed with the clothes will cause significantly more fibres to break. We can therefore not recommend the use of a wash egg or wash nuts - even if they are used with good intentions - as they lead to more plastic in the oceans.
- ◄At what temperatures can I wash the washing bag?
- In our tests, the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag was washed at a maximum temperature of 40°C. Therefore, we do not recommend washing hotter than 40°.
In general, the warmer you wash, the shorter the life of your clothes. You can find more washing tips in our washing guide “Wash better”.
- ◄Why is my laundry still wet when it comes out of the washing machine? How can I avoid an imbalance?
- When washing with the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag, an imbalance can occur during the spin cycle. To prevent damage to the washing machine, the spin cycle is often automatically stopped or the speed reduced. This can result in your laundry coming out of the washing machine very wet.
To avoid this, it is important to always put additional garments without any synthetic fibres into the washing drum when using the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag. You can also add another filled washing bag. This prevents an imbalance and your washing machine should spin as usual.
- ◄Can the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag be put in the tumble dryer?
- No. During the drying process, just what is not supposed to happen happens: Due to static charging, the broken microfibres pierce trough the bag and end up in the laundry drum and ultimately in the environment.
The reason for this is that the electrostatic reaction of round plastic material (such as synthetic clothing and the round PET monofilaments of the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag) creates a magnetic field. Broken fibres are attracted and orientate themselves at a 90° angle to the mesh of the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag. Aligned in this way, they can pierce the material and go straight through the mesh. In the washing machine, there is water in and around the bag and the broken fibres lie at various angles on the net, so they cannot pierce through it.
- ◄How do I properly dispose of the collected microfibres?
- Please dispose of the collected microfibres in the residual waste. It is best to collect and dispose of the collected fibres in a closed container. This reduces the chance of the small and very light synthetic fibres being blown away during waste collection and to end up in the environment.
Microfibres do not belong in recyclable waste (yellow bin, yellow bag, green dot) because they cannot be recycled.
By the way: In Germany, residual waste is used to generate electricity and does not end up in landfills. The exhaust gases from waste incineration are filtered and 99% of them are non-toxic. If you don't live in Germany, you can check the Waste Atlas here http://www.atlas.d-waste.com to see what happens to the waste in your region.
- ◄I can hardly find any fibres in the bag. What am I doing wrong?
In addition, the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag has been designed to prevent microfibre loss at source. Due to the smooth surface and structure of the material, fewer microfibres break off during washing. This ensures that your clothes are protected, pilling is avoided and fibre loss is reduced. According to a test series by the Fraunhofer Institute UMSICHT, synthetic clothing loses on average 86% fewer fibres compared to washing without the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag. The microfibres that nevertheless break off accumulate over time. You are most likely to find them in the corners or at the hem.
By the way: The number of fibres that break during washing depends on the type of clothes and the way you wash them: very new or very old clothes tend to lose more microfibres. The higher the temperature, the more likely it is that microfibres will break off. The softer the fabrics, the fewer fibres will break off, etc.
You can find more washing tips to reduce microplastic pollution in our washing guide “Wash better”.
- ◄How often can the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag be used?
- If you follow our instructions for use, you can use your bag for many wash cycles. After a few washes, the washing bag won't look like new, but it will still do its job perfectly.
- ◄How do I dispose of my washing bag?
- The GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag is entirely made of polyester and is designed to be fully recyclable. The best thing to do is to remove the zip first and dispose of the zip and the bag in the yellow bin (yellow bag, green dot) and thus introduce it into the recycling system.
By the way: Recycled material cannot (yet) be used for high-tech fabrics like the material of our GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bags. Unfortunately, old GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bags cannot yet be used to produce new GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bags. Therefore, it does not make sense to return your old GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag to us - especially regarding the resources needed for shipping. It is best to return your old GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag to your local recycling centre, where it can be recycled in its own recycling group.
- ◄Why isn't there a microplastic filter installed directly in the washing machine?
- Microfibres are so small that they would immediately clog permanently installed filters, quite literally in a matter of seconds. The microfibres that collect on the filter would be forced through the filter into the wastewater due to the high water pressure. To avoid this, the filter would have to be constantly replaced or cleaned.
We have developed a working prototype for a washing machine filter and other companies are also working on such solutions. However, it will take some time before these filters are effective and permanently functional. Until then, the GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag is a practical and effective way to reduce plastic pollution in rivers and oceans and raise awareness about the problem.
- ◄Why can't sewage treatment plants filter microplastics efficiently?
- Washing machines are usually unable to filter out the microplastic fibres in our textiles that break off during washing. Thus, the fibres enter the sewage treatment plants with the household wastewater. However, countless particles escape the filter systems and end up in our environment. According to a study by the University of California in Santa Barbara, on average 60% - 99% of microplastic particles are filtered out of the water. In Germany, only 20 out of about 10,000 sewage treatment plants have the so-called purification stage 4, whose main aim is to rid our wastewater of medicine residues.
Microplastic fibres are particularly difficult to filter out. Due to their shape and floating properties, they pass through the filter systems much more frequently than other types of microplastics such as pellets, so-called microbeads from cosmetics and other plastic fragments.
But even if they are filtered out, the plastic particles often end up back in the environment with the sewage sludge. If the sewage sludge is not incinerated, it is used as fertiliser on fields. From here, the microplastic particles bound in the sewage sludge make their way back into our oceans.
So-called combined sewer overflows are another problem. They serve to relieve the sewage system in the case of heavy rain. In order to prevent backwater in households during heavy rainfall, the wastewater flows through the sewers untreated when the volume of water is high.
By the way, the wastewater from the gullies does not pass through a sewage treatment plant, but flows mostly unfiltered into our waters. The microplastic particles from tyre and shoe sole abrasion, as well as microplastic fibres found in the air and in sewage sludge, therefore pollute our environment directly.
For technical reasons, the filtering possibilities of sewage treatment plants are unfortunately not sufficient to prevent the pollution of the oceans by microplastics. However, by rethinking our buying habits and mindful washing behaviour, everyone can contribute to reducing the amount of microplastics entering the environment.