You gaze at your washer. Your armload of dirty clothes is safely ensconced in its metal walls, and now, only one questions stands between you and clean clothes: Hot, Warm, or Cold water?
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Cold should be fine. Well, warm. Best to play it safe. Some of this stuff has food stains. Actually, there’s some workout gear in there too. OK, Hot. But just for this load. The next load is – oh, that’s all white clothes. That has to be hot too.
STOP RIGHT THERE. These are falsehoods fed to you by the shadowy Hot Water Overlord Corporation. Most of the time, washing your clothes in cold water is better for the fabrics, the environment, and your wallet.
In fact, unless your clothes have grease or oil stains, washing them in hot or warm water won’t get them any cleaner. The detergent and the motion of the washer do most of the work, not the water temperature. Tide just released a detergent specifically formulated for cold water, although it’s probably not necessary. Regular detergent is formulated to work in all water temperatures unless otherwise stated. Cold water also helps fabric keep its color and stretchiness better than hot.
And the environmental impact is a big one. Going with the “Hot” button has the environmental impact of driving nine miles in your car. Multiply that by how many loads of laundry you do a year, and that’s a lot of mileage. About ninety percent of the energy expended by the washer is used just to heat the water. That means that if you switch to cold, you’re saving 90% on your energy bill per load. If you still aren’t ready to make the switch to cold, at least use Warm – it still cuts the energy usage in half.
The average home does almost 400 loads of laundry a year. That’s a lot of energy just to heat up the water. Cut your energy costs and your environmental impact by washing your clothes in cold water.