Skip to content
BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter March 7, 2019

A Comprehensive Literature Study on Microfibres from Washing Machines

Umfassende Literaturstudie zu Mikrofasern aus Waschmaschinen
  • Bettina Schöpel and Rainer Stamminger


The ubiquitous finding of microplastic in the abiotic and biotic environment has gained a lot of attention recently in the media, scientific community and among the general public. One of the known sources of microfibres is the washing of textiles. It would be a conceivable option to install filters in domestic washing machines that would sift out microplastics to prevent this pollution. The aim of this paper was to conduct a comprehensive literature search on microplastics filters in washing machines published already. Although the results of this research show that there has been an effort to find solutions for this problem in a worldwide context, there has been no known proven system that prevents microfibre release in the aquatic environment which does not have a harmful influence on the washing behaviour and/or washing results.


Das ubiquitäre Vorhandensein von Mikroplastik in der abiotischen und biotischen Umwelt hat in letzter Zeit in den Medien, in der Wissenschaft und in der breiten Öffentlichkeit viel Beachtung gefunden. Eine bekannte Quelle für Mikrofasern ist das Waschen von Textilien. Es wäre eine denkbare Option, Filter in Haushaltswaschmaschinen zu installieren, die Mikroplastik aussieben, um diese Verschmutzung zu verhindern. Ziel dieser Arbeit war es, eine umfassende Literaturrecherche zu bereits veröffentlichten Mikroplastik-Filtern in Waschmaschinen durchzuführen. Obwohl die Ergebnisse dieser Forschung zeigen, dass im weltweiten Kontext nach Lösungen für dieses Problem gesucht wurde, ist kein System bekannt, das die Freisetzung von Mikrofasern in Gewässern verhindert und das Waschverhalten und/oder die Waschergebnisse nicht beeinträchtigt.

Correspondence address, Prof. Dr. Rainer Stamminger, University of Bonn, Institute of Agricultural Engineering, Household and Appliance Technology Section, Nussallee 5, 53115 Bonn, Germany, Tel.: 0049-228-735955, Fax: 0049-228-732596, E-Mail:

Rainer Stamminger, University of Bonn. After 17 years of practical experience in the development of washing machines and dishwasher with AEG Hausgeräte, Germany Rainer Stamminger was promoted in 2002 as professor for appliance and process engineering at University of Bonn. Main areas of research at University are consumer behaviour of homework with and without using appliances, new products or features, smart appliances, robots for household application and questions of sustainability of housekeeping.

Bettina Schöpel, University of Bonn. Currently, Ms. Schöpel studies food technology in the Master's course at the University of Applied Sciences Neubrandenburg. Before, she absolved her bachelor at the University of Bonn in Nutrition and Food Science.


1. PlasticsEurope: Plastics – the Facts 2017, Wemmel Belgium, 2018,, Accessed 18 November 2018.Search in Google Scholar

2. Thompson, R. C.: Plastic debris in the marine environment: consequences and solutions, in Marine Nature Conservation in Europe 2006 Proceedings of the Symposium, (2006),, Accessed 18 November 2018.Search in Google Scholar

3. Jambeck, J. R., Geyer, R., Wilcox, C., Siegler, T. R., Perryman, M., Andrady, A., Narayan, R., and Law, K. L.: Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean, Science, (347) (6223) (2015) (768771). 10.1126/science.1260352Search in Google Scholar PubMed

4. Barnes, D. K. A., Galgani, F., Thompson, R. C. and Barlaz, M.: Accumulation, and fragmentation of plastic debris in global environments, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, (364) (1526) (2009) (19851998). 10.1098/rstb.2008.0205Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

5. Browne, M. A., Crump, P., Niven, S. J., Teuten, E., Tonkin, A., Galloway, T., and Thompson, R.: Accumulation of Microplastic on Shorelines Worldwide: Sources and Sinks, Environmental Science & Technology, (45) (21) (2011) (91759179). 10.1021/es201811sSearch in Google Scholar PubMed

6. Fendall, L., and Sewell, M.: “Contributing to marine pollution by washing your face: microplastics in facial cleansers.,” Marine Pollution Bulletin, (58) (8) (2009) (12251228). 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2009.04.025Search in Google Scholar PubMed

7. Browne, M. A., Galloway, T., and Thompson, R.: Microplastic–an emerging contaminant of potential concern?, Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, (3) (4) (2007) (559566). 10.1002/ieam.5630030412Search in Google Scholar PubMed

8. EC: Plastic Waste: a European strategy to protect the planet, defend our citizens and empower our industries, Strasbourg, Press release, (2018),, Accessed 18 November 2018.Search in Google Scholar

9. Hann, S., Sherrington, C., Jamieson, O., Hickman, M., Kershaw, P., Bapasola, A., and Cole, G.: Investigating options for reducing releases in the aquatic environment of microplastics emitted by (but not intentionally added in) products Final Report, London, Bristol, (2018)–04/microplastics_final_report_v5_full.pdf, Accessed 18 November 2018.Search in Google Scholar

10. Statista: Synthetic fiber production worldwide from 1940 to 2015,, Accessed 3 November 2018.Search in Google Scholar

11. GESAMP: Sources, fate and effects of microplastics in the marine environment: a global assessment, IMO/FAO/UNESCO-IOC/UNIDO/WMO/IAEA/UN/UNEP/UNDP, (2015),, Accessed 18 November 2018.Search in Google Scholar

12. GESAMP: Sources, fate and effects of microplastics in the marine environment: part two of a global assessment, IMO/FAO/UNESCO-IOC/UNIDO/WMO/IAEA/UN/UNEP/UNDP, (2016),, Accessed 18 November 2018.Search in Google Scholar

13. Teuten, E. L., Saquing, M. J, Knappe, D. R., Barlaz, M. A., Jonsson, S., Björn, A., Rowland, S. J., Thompson, R., Galloway, S. T., Yamashita, R., Ochi, D., Watanuki, Y., Moore, C., Viet, P. H., Tana, T. S., Prudente, M., Boonyatumanond, R., Zakaria, M. P., Akkhavong, K., Yuko, O., Hirai, H., Iwasa, S., Mizukawa, K., Hagino, Y., Imamura, A., Saha, M., and Takada, H.: Transport and release of chemicals from plastics to the environment and to wildlife, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B (364) (1526) (2009) (20272045). 10.1098/rstb.2008.0284Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

14. Viršek, M. K., Lovšin, M. N., Koren, Š., Kržan, A., and Peterlin, M.: Microplastics as a vector for the transport of the bacterial fish pathogen species Aeromonas salmonicida, Marine Pollution Bulletin, (125) (1–2) (2017) (301309). 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.08.024Search in Google Scholar PubMed

15. EFSA: Submission of scientific peer-reviewed open literature for the approval of pesticide active substances under Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009, (2009), (pp.9),, Accessed 18 November 2018.Search in Google Scholar

16. UNEP: Marine plastic debris and microplastics – Global lessons and research to inspire action and guide policy change, (2016),, Accessed 18 November 2018. 10.18356/01160770-enSearch in Google Scholar

17. Klein, S., Worch, E., and Knepper, T. P.: Occurrence and Spatial Distribution of Microplastics in River Shore Sediments of the Rhine-Main Area in Germany, Environmental Science & Technology, (49) (10) (2015) (60706076). 10.1021/acs.est.5b00492Search in Google Scholar PubMed

18. Thompson, R. C., Olsen, Y., Mitchell, R. P., Davis, A., Rowland, S. J., John, A. W., McGonigle, D. and Russell, A. E.: Lost at sea: Where is all the plastic?, Science, (304) (5672) (2004) (838). 10.1126/science.1094559Search in Google Scholar PubMed

19. Besseling, E., Foekema, E. M., Van Franeker, J. A., Leopold, M. F., Kühn, S., Bravo Rebolledo, E. L., Heße, E., Mielke, L., IJzer, J., Kamminga, P., and Koelmans, A. A.: Microplastic in a macro filter feeder: Humpback whale Megaptera novaeangliae, Marine Pollution Bulletin, (95) (1) (2015) (248252). 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2015.04.007Search in Google Scholar PubMed

20. Van Franeker, J. A., Blaize, C., Danielsen, J., Fairclough, K.; Gollan, J., Guse, N., Hansen, P. L., Heubeck, M., Jensen, J. K., Le Guillou, G., Olsen, B., Olsen, K. O., Pedersen, J., Stienen, E. and Turner, D. M.: Monitoring plastic ingestion by the northern fulmar Fulmarus glacialis in the North Sea, Environmental Pollution, (159) (10) (2011) (26092615). 10.1016/j.envpol.2011.06.008Search in Google Scholar PubMed

21. Castro, R. O., Silva, M. L., Marques, M. R. C., and de Araújo, F. V.: Evaluation of microplastics in Jurujuba Cove, Niterói, RJ, Brazil, an area of mussels farming, Marine Pollution Bulletin, (110) (1) (2016) (555558). 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2016.05.037Search in Google Scholar PubMed

22. Browne, M. A., Dissanayake, D., Galloway, T. S., Lowe, D. M., and Thompson, R. C.: Ingested microscopic plastic translocates to the circulatory system of the mussel, Mytilus edulis (L), Environmental Science & Technology, (42) (13) (2008) (50265031). 10.1021/es800249aSearch in Google Scholar PubMed

23. Bravo Rebolledo, E. L., Van Franeker, J. A., Jansen, O. E., and Brasseur, S. M.: Plastic ingestion by harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) in The Netherlands, Marine Pollution Bulletin, (67) (1–2) (2013) (200202). 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2012.11.035Search in Google Scholar PubMed

24. Carney Almroth, B. M., Astrom, L., Roslund, S., Petersson, H., Johansson, M., and Persson, N-K.: Quantifying shedding of synthetic fibers from textiles; a source of microplastics released into the environment, Environ Sci Pollut Res Int., (25) (2) (2018) (11911199). 10.1007/s11356-017-0528-7Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

25. Pirc, U., Vidmar, M., Mozer, A., and Kržan, A.: Emissions of microplastic fibers from microfiber fleece during domestic washing, Environ. Sci. Pollut. Res., (23) (21) (2016) (2220622211). 10.1007/s11356-016-7703-0Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

26. Hartline, N. L., Bruce, N. J., Karba, S. N., Ruff, E. O., Sonar, S. O., and Holden, P. A.: Microfiber Masses Recovered from Conventional Machine Washing of New or Aged Garments, Environmental Science and Technology, (50) (21) (2016) (1153211538). 10.1021/acs.est.6b03045Search in Google Scholar PubMed

27. Cao, X., Huang, M., Ding, B., Yu, J., and Sun, G.: Robust polyacrylonitrile nanofibrous membrane reinforced with jute cellulose nanowhiskers for water purification, Desalination, (316) (2013) (120–126). 10.1016/j.desal.2013.01.031Search in Google Scholar

28. Sumisha, A., Arthanareeswaran, G., Thuyavan, L. Y., Ismail, A. F., and Chakraborty, S.: Treatment of laundry wastewater using polyethersulfone/polyvinylpyrollidone ultrafiltration membranes, Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, (12) (2015) (174179). PMid:25890841; 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2015.04.004Search in Google Scholar PubMed

29. Weber, R., Chmiel, H., and Mavrov, V.: Characteristics and application of new ceramic nanofiltration membranes, Desalination, (157) (1–3) (2003) (113125). 10.1016/S0011-9164(03)00390-4Search in Google Scholar

30. Jedidi, I., Khemakhem, S., Saidi, S., Larbot, A., Elloumi-Ammar, N., Fourati, A., Charfi, A., Abdelhamid, B. S., and Ben Amar, R.: Preparation of a new ceramic microfiltration membrane from mineral coal fly ash: Application to the treatment of the textile dying effluents, Powder Technology, (208) (2) (2011) (427432). 10.1016/j.powtec.2010.08.039Search in Google Scholar

31. Dilaver, M., Hocaoğlu, S. M., Soydemir, G., Dursun, M., Keskinler, B., Koyuncu, I., and Ağtaş, M.: Hot wastewater recovery by using ceramic membrane ultrafiltration and its reusability in textile industry, Journal of Cleaner Production, (171) (2018) (220233). 10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.10.015Search in Google Scholar

32. Pfeiffer, T. J., Osborn, A., and Davis, M.: Particle sieve analysis for determining solids removal efficiency of water treatment components in a recirculating aquaculture system, Aquacultural Engineering, (39) (1) (2008) (2429). 10.1016/j.aquaeng.2008.05.003Search in Google Scholar

33. Geyer, R., Jambeck, J. R., and Law, K. L.: Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made, Science Advances, (3) (7) (2017). 10.1126/sciadv.1700782Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

34. Aizenshtein, E. M.: Global and russian output of polyester fibres in 2013, Fibre Chemistry, (47) (2015) (17). 10.1007/s10692-015-9629-6Search in Google Scholar

35. Ivar do Sul, J. A. and Costa, M. F.: The present and future of microplastic pollution in the marine environment, Environmental Pollution, (185) (2014) (352364). PMid:24275078; 10.1016/j.envpol.2013.10.036Search in Google Scholar PubMed

36. Ciabattti, I., Cesaro, F., Faralli, L., Fatarella, E., and Tognotti, F.: Demonstration of a treatment system for purification and reuse of laundry wastewater, Desalination, (245) (1–3) (2009) (451459). 10.1016/j.desal.2009.02.008Search in Google Scholar

Received: 2018-11-07
Accepted: 2018-11-22
Published Online: 2019-03-07
Published in Print: 2019-03-15

© 2019, Carl Hanser Publisher, Munich

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Downloaded on 26.9.2023 from
Scroll to top button