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Expert shares top tips to make kid’s school uniform last in the wash

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The average child will go through 945 items of uniform during their school years.

Their wardrobe will include 55 polo tops, 49 pairs of trousers and 42 jumpers from the age of four to 16.

According to the poll of 1,300 parents with children at school, they will also own 42 pairs of school shoes, go through 82 sets of socks and wear 58 shirts – to name a few.

As a result, the average mum and dad will put on 1,248 washes during this time which will cost them a £20.60 in energy bills during each academic year.

And those who own a tumble dryer will do 1,147 cycles, equating to an additional £45.45 in energy costs.

Combined, this will set back parents by £924.70 over the next 14 years of their child’s school life – based on the current energy costs.

A spokesperson for Utilita, which commissioned the survey, said: “Back to school is an expensive time for parents, but it doesn’t just stop once the new term has begun.

“Kids are constantly growing and are also extremely good at wear and tear, so buying or replacing uniform is a constant cycle throughout the entire year – which takes a toll on finances and washing machines.”

It emerged 36 per cent always buy their child a complete new uniform before the start of each school year – with 49 per cent using high street brands or supermarkets to do so.

However, 36 per cent say they buy the majority of their kid’s clothes from the designated school uniform shop.

Exactly a third are often having to replace these items during term time which is a struggle for 33 per cent as they admit buying new uniform is difficult to afford.

The main reasons for parents having to replace school clothes include outgrowing them (74 per cent), wear and tear (71 per cent) and losing them (30 per cent).

When these items no longer fit, 39 per cent will donate them to charity, 35 per cent will give them to the school and 31 per cent hand them down to a sibling.

On average, parents are forking out £149.70 per year on these items – equating to a whopping £1,796.40 over the entire school period.

When it comes to branded school uniform, the study found 87 per cent agree these versions are more expensive than non-branded.

Unluckily for 57 per cent, their child’s school requests that they wear this which makes it difficult to recycle/reuse once the child no longer needs these items, according to 34 per cent.

To ensure their little one’s uniform lasts as long as possible, 43 per cent buy a few sizes up so there is more room for them to grow and 39 per cent will always use family hand-me-downs.

More than four in 10 reckon the time to buy new school uniform comes around far too quickly with only 18 per cent looking forward to this occasion.

Nearly four in 10 have a relaxed approach about this as they will start thinking about it a few weeks before school starts, but 28 per cent prefer to get organised a month in advance.

Utilita has launched its ‘Smart for School’ project which looks at how families can make small changes to their school uniform habits to save big while having a positive impact on the planet.

Commenting on the initiative, Archie Lasseter, head of sustainability, said: “Supplementing half of the new items we plan to buy with pre-worn clothes from the school shop will chop the school uniform bill in half.

“By doing one uniform wash and dry cycle a week instead of the average 2.4, this could save parents £168 a year in energy.

“This could be reduced even further by washing at 30 degrees Celsius instead of higher temperatures, and even more if swapping the tumble dryer for a clothes airer.

“Even by having a smart display somewhere visible in the home can effectively contribute to this.”

Utilita’s top five uniform washing tips

  1. Drop the temperature down to 30 degrees to save energy
  2. Always use an eco-setting when available – they take longer but are cheaper
  3. Shop around for a good cold wash powder to get the best wash
  4. Don’t rely on your washing machine to remove stains – do this manually where possible
  5. Do one big uniform wash per week, instead of the average 2.4

Total number of items a child will go through during their school years

  • Underwear – 89
  • Socks – 82
  • Tights – 71
  • Shirts – 58
  • Polo tops – 55
  • Blouses – 55
  • Iron-on-badges/logos/motifs – 50
  • Trousers – 49
  • Skirts – 47
  • Hats – 43
  • Jumpers – 42
  • School shoes – 42
  • PE daps –  41
  • Ties – 40
  • PE kits – 38
  • Blazers – 37
  • Jackets – 36
  • Book bags/school bags – 36
  • Coats – 34

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