Cold water washing has become a modern trend in laundry. Proponents argue that it helps save the environment while saving you money, and that laundry does just fine in cold water. But skeptics are not so sure. Does cold water washing really make sense? As with anything else in life, the answer is, it depends. Here’s what you should know.
There is no doubt that cold water washing saves energy. In fact, roughly 75 percent of the energy involved in washing a load of clothes goes toward heating up the water. Consumer Reports estimates that washing clothes in cold water could save the average homeowner around $60 per year.
Of course, this also depends on where you live. On a hot summer afternoon in Florida or Texas, the “cold water” might be warm anyway, while during an Alaskan winter, you might have no choice but to heat the water just to get it flowing through the pipes. For purposes of laundry, “cold water” is generally considered to be around 60 degrees F. Much colder than that, and even cold water detergents won’t be effective.
The Role of Surfactants
Surfactants are the chemicals in detergent that control cleaning. One end of each molecule is hydrophilic, meaning that it is naturally attracted to water. The other end is hydrophobic, which means that it avoids water. The hydrophobic end attaches to dirt and grime, while the hydrophilic end keeps the whole mess suspended in the water until it is rinsed down the drain.
Traditional surfactants, like those used in regular laundry detergent, require warm or hot water to spur these chemical reactions. However, designated cold-water detergents contain enzymes and other ingredients that boost the power of the reactions without the need for heat.
Even if you mostly switch to cold water washing, you should not use it for everything. Bacteria-laden items such as cloth diapers, as well as those that need sanitizing such as towels and bed sheets, should always be washed in warm or hot water. In these cases, the water temperature itself provides an extra measure of cleaning power.
Cold Rinse Wins
Regardless of the water temperature you choose for washing, experts agree that there is no harm in using a cold rinse cycle. Cold water rinses out detergent and debris just as well as warm water, and there is no additional cleaning benefit in the rinse cycle.
Cold water washing can save some energy, and is sufficient for average laundry loads when paired with a cold-water detergent. Use hotter water for items that are heavily soiled or particularly germ-filled, and always rinse your laundry in cold water. Or keep it simple and sign up for a laundry service instead. Why worry about your washing temperature and making sure things are properly separated, when you can have affordable door to door service instead?
Happy Nest is committed to unparalleled customer service, quality, and environmental sensitivity. We understand that we’re not just doing laundry, we’re doing your laundry. If you are ready for a laundry service that consistently delivers affordable, top-notch service, sign up online or contact us today by email at email@example.com or by phone at (617) 817-2590.