Washing your clothes in cold water may seem counterintuitive to everything you’ve learned in the laundry room, but there are a host of benefits that come from turning down the heat on your washing machine.
Using cold water isn’t just better for your clothes and your wallet – it’s also better for the environment.
90% of the energy used in a typical washing machine goes towards heating the water. The other 10% is simply used to power the motor. According to Business Insider, washing machine manufacturers have spent the last 15 years improving their designs so their products can clean laundry more efficiently while still meeting hot water use standards that have been set by the Department of Energy.
As the manufacturers improved their designs, laundry detergent companies improved their recipes so their products could work more efficiently with cold water.
“Front-loaders and high-efficiency top-loaders run normal cycles 10 percent cooler than agitator washers, and the ‘warm’ wash temperature in the U.S. has declined by 15 degrees over the past 15 years,” Tracey Long, communications manager for Proctor & Gamble’s fabric care products in North America, told the news outlet.
“Traditional detergent enzymes can be sluggish in cold water so we worked to create a mix of surfactants and enzymes that deliver cleaning performance in cold water across all product lines,” she added.
So unless you’re washing fabrics that have been used by sick people, or you’re doing a load of dirty diapers, washing dirty clothes in cold water is just as efficient as using hot. According to Christine Dimmick, the author of “Detox Your Home”, you can add a half-cup of white vinegar to a load of smelly laundry to get the odor out. She also says you can add a little dose of essential oil if you’re adverse to the smell of vinegar.
Additionally, cold water is better for the longevity of your clothing, as it keeps them from wearing out, shrinking, or bleeding color.
If the average American washed 4 out of 5 of their laundry loads in cold water, they could save up to 864 pounds of emissions from the atmosphere every year, says Cold Water Saves. That’s the equivalent of planting .34 acres of trees in the US.
Plus, using hot water accounts for roughly $265 worth of electricity for the average American annually, in comparison to cold water only costing about $16.