The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

July 24, 2017

Review – Guppy Friend microfiber catching laundry bag

Guppy Friend microfiber catching laundry bagIn March, I wrote about microfiber laundry pollution from synthetic clothing and mentioned that soon there would be a special bag available called Guppy Friend to catch those microfibers before they are rinsed down the drain. Well, the bag is now available and the company sent me one to test out.

Guppy Friend is a product developed by the campaign STOP! MICRO WASTE, a German non-profit founded by a group of surfers and nature lovers to find solutions to the microfiber pollution problem.  Guppy Friend is just one of their projects, as they recognize that it is only one small part of the solution to a huge problem that will require systemic change on a massive scale, not just a few people conscientiously washing their polyester fleece in a special bag.  But for those of you conscientious folk out there who do wear synthetic clothing and want to prevent the fibers from escaping into our waterways, here is one small solution.

Guppy Friend is a synthetic bag (yes, a plastic bag meant to catch plastic fibers) that you fill with synthetic clothing (polyester, acrylic, spandex, lycra, etc.) to wash in the washing machine.  When it arrived in plastic packaging, I just sighed.  After all these years, people are still packaging products meant to combat plastic pollution in more plastic.  It’s just so ingrained in our society that everything must be protected with plastic — even things already made out of plastic!

Guppy Friend plastic packaging

CATS LOVE GUPPY FRIEND

I freed Guppy Friend from its bag and laid it out on the floor.  Immediately, my cats went to work sniffing and scratching at it.  But don’t forget — my cats LOVE to eat plastic!  This is one item I will have to keep away from them.

Guppy Friend microfiber catching laundry bag

Without reading the instructions, I packed the bag full of polyester fleece clothing.  No, not MY polyester fleece.  I don’t wear that stuff anymore (and honestly, I think the best solution is just to avoid it.)  But I live with someone who does wear it, so there was plenty to experiment with.

NOTE:  This is NOT the correct way to fill the bag!  Only after stuffing the bag full and finding that the first load did not get clean did I actually read the instructions.

Guupy Friend laundry bag incorrectly filled

But before that, Soots and Arya went to town on it.

Cat loves Guppy Friend laundry bag

CORRECT WAY TO FILL GUPPY FRIEND: No more than HALF FULL

Removing half the clothing, I placed Guppy Friend in the washer and did a second wash.

Guppy Friend laundry bag in washing machine

I made sure to add other (non-synthetic) clothing to balance out the load.

Guppy Friend laundry bag with other clothes in washing machine

USE LIQUID SOAP

As per the recommendations on the Guppy Friend site, I used liquid laundry soap rather than powdered in the wash.

Soapnuts liquid laundry soap

What is the brown liquid, you ask?  It is my homemade soap nuts laundry liquid, which we’ve been using with great success for several years.  In addition to using soap nuts to clean clothes, we use white vinegar in the rinse cycle to make sure clothes rinse clean and to keep the washing machine from developing soap buildup.  You can read more about our plastic-free laundry procedures here.

Okay, so laundry cycle completed, I removed the Guppy Friend bag from the machine, took out the clothes, and examined the bag to see if it had caught any fibers.  Yep. it did.

Guppy Friend catches microfibers from synthetic clothing

There wasn’t a ton of microfiber shedding, but per the Guppy Friend website, that’s to be expected.  According to co-founder Alexander Nolte, Guppy Friend can actually extend the life of your clothing.

It is important to point out that the bag not only captures the broken microfibers, but reduces the mechanical forces that cause the breaking significantly. As a consequence the textiles washed inside Guppyfriend lose a lot less fibers, thus have an extended lifespan.

Most of the fibers collected in a corner of the bag, which was also expected.

Guppy Friend catches microfibers in corner of bag

DO NOT RINSE!

IMPORTANT:  Once your Guppy Friend has collected microfibers, do not rinse it out!  That will defeat the entire purpose of using the bag in the first place.  (Maybe it doesn’t need to be said, but I have a feeling there are folks out there who would rinse it automatically without thinking it through.)  Just collect the fuzz with your hands and put it in the trash.

If you have more questions about how to use Guppy Friend, refer the instructions on their website.

PURCHASE GUPPY FRIEND

In Europe, you can purchase Guppy Friend here.  In the United States, you can purchase Guppy Friend from Patagonia.  Alexander Nolte says that other retailers will follow.

TAKE ACTION

For more ideas on how to reduce microfiber pollution in your laundry, please read the Plastic Pollution Coalition’s article, 15 Ways to Stop Microfiber Pollution Now.

But here’s the thing.  Filters like Guppy Friend are not going to solve this problem, although they can help a little bit.  To learn more about what you can do to combat microfiber pollution on a larger scale, read my original post and sign The Story of Stuff’s petition to stop microfiber plastic pollution.

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10 Comments on "Review – Guppy Friend microfiber catching laundry bag"

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Rosie (@greenrosielife)

How disappointing that the bag was both made from a form of plastic (perhaps there is no non plastic suitable alternative) and wrapped in plastic as well – that is just awful. I wonder if all new washing machines could be fitted with microfiber filters and the collected debris itself collected and returned to be recycled?
Popping by from #Zerowasteheroes

Not in plastic anymore -see older comments.

I checked the bag out on the Patagonia website and they sell it in a cardboard box.

FWIW I just got mine (yay!) and it came in a cardboard box!! No plastic. Can’t wait to try it out.
Thanks for posting about your experience….

So I assume it also catches any dirt, sand or food that was on the clothing? How clean did the clothes seem? My kids usually wait till they spill something to put their fleece jackets in the laundry.

Spilled over food will be removed when detergent and water gets to the apparel. When the textiles are able to move inside the bag they should be as clean as when washed without the bag. We tested ketchup, blood, clay, chocolate, etc., but recommend to remove coarse dirt before washing, though. Certainly, solid parts will stay in the bag.

Thank you for taking the time to sample and review all of these products for us! No doubt many are eager to learn what they can do and it’s helpful to know some options exist. Definitely when I saw the pictures I could already feel myself wanting to rinse the bag under water to clean it. It would definitely take some conscious habit reshaping. I also recall that some products are more effective at catching more fibers than others. I’m with you, it will be a lot of work to properly care for synthetic clothes, so I’d rather not buy… Read more »
Thanks for evaluating this method of reducing microfiber release. Somehow I thought that most of the microfibers were released in a tumble dryer, so I hang my microfiber clothing on a clothesline on my tiny, south facing balcony. It prevents premature thinning and required replacement of most of my clothing. Due to a “bad back”, my microfiber clothing is generally jackets and bathrobes where the weight of wool or other natural fibers causes some pain. Should an extended period of rain limit my line drying, would most of the microfibers end up in the lint filter of a tumble dryer… Read more »
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