Sustainability and Social Responsibility

Gendered and Environmental Stresses of Affluent Laundry Consumption Practices

  • Kavita Singh (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)
  • Elena Karpova (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)


Domestic laundry accounts for substantial carbon footprint of a garment and the laundry wastewater discharge results in massive microfiber pollution. The U.S. consumer has a highly resource-intensive laundry practice and yet their practice has been sparsely studied. Using in-depth interviews conducted at home, this study explores the conventions and habits of laundry and the meanings the U.S. consumers attach to this practice. The theoretical framework includes practice theory and affluent consumption, which question the view of consumption as an individual choice. The analysis reveals that U.S. consumers wash clothes frequently, often after one wear but have different rules for washing of inconspicuous textiles such as linens meant for private consumption. Further, consumers expect laundry practice to require little labor or time commitment and at the same time the practice causes elevated stress to women. The results from the study can help in development of laundry-related sufficiency strategies.

Keywords: cleanliness, sustainable practices, affluent consumption, household laundry, laundry

How to Cite:

Singh, K. & Karpova, E., (2024) “Gendered and Environmental Stresses of Affluent Laundry Consumption Practices”, International Textile and Apparel Association Annual Conference Proceedings 80(1). doi:



Published on
26 Jan 2024
Peer Reviewed