How to

9 December 2016

Laundry Day Default: Cold Water

How many of you routinely use warm water to wash your clothes? I’d caution a guess that a large majority of you do since, according to io9, more than 60% of Americans wash their laundry in warm water. Unless you’re washing a football team’s sweaty uniforms or a particularly soiled towel (the joys of owning a pet), the temperature setting on your washing machine should be set to cold. Incorporating this practice into your laundry day routine will save money, energy, and your clothing.

When asked whether technology has advanced, most people will say that it has without hesitation. It’s visually apparent with mobile phones, for example, that the technological world has come a long way in the past decade. Aside from that, graphics in video games, shrinking computer towers, and wearable tech are unmistakable proof of advancement. Not so immediately obvious are the improvements to household solutions. The science of detergents has progressed in an age where recycling and conservation reign, where global warming has been accurately renamed as climate change. Detergents have been made eco-friendly. Previously, cleaning enzymes in laundry detergents were heat-activated. By tweaking detergent chemistry, cleaning enzymes no longer need high heat to clean properly, now working more effectively in cold water. Additionally, new washers have been made to operate at low washing temperatures in order to meet the Department of Energy’s standards for hot water use, according to Consumer Reports.

With cleanliness taken care of, we move onto the next issue with warm water: wastefulness. As warm water is no longer needed to get clothes clean, you should need no more convincing, but let’s briefly talk about cost. Nearly 90% of the energy used to complete a cycle goes into heating the water, said Energy Star. The unnecessarily expended energy is a burden to the consumer. Without the added heat element, the cost of a load of laundry is remarkably cheaper, with savings of about $60 a year in utilities.

Still need convincing before you come to the cold side? Consider the benefits cold washing on your articles of clothing:
  • The dyes in clothing steadily break down from continued exposure to heat. Preserve the vibrancy of colours and screen-printed details with cold water.
  • A static, cold temperature prevents shrinkage along the seams of clothes.
  • Stains and discolouring marks come out ONLY in cold water while warm water causes such things to permanently set.
  • Consider that delicates must only be washed in cold water; likely due to the harsh effects warm water can have on clothing. 

Jacqui Litvan

Jacqui Litvan, wielding a bachelor's degree in English, strives to create a world of fantasy amidst the ever-changing landscape of military life. Attempting to become a writer, she fuels herself with coffee (working as a barista) and music (spending free time as a raver).