Romans use public laundries to wash domestic clothing
While washing machines have revolutionised the way in which we do laundry, they have also had some serious environmental impacts. These impacts include introducing phosphates to our waterways through laundry detergent that is added to the sewer system when it is drained from the washing machines.
Washing machines also use vast amounts of water. Even a small front loader uses around 70 litres of water per wash.
In addition to laundry detergent flowing into waterways when it leaves the washing machine, tiny microplastics from synthetic clothes (polyester and rayon for example) are also washed out. Although our waste water is usually treated before being released into the ocean, treatment plants are not able to remove these microplastics which are then consumed by ocean animals who eventually become poisoned by the plastics that they eat.