It’s a common belief that dirty clothes should be cleaned with hot water. However, this is not true! Washing your clothes with cold water is not only good for your clothes, but it’s good for your bank account and the planet, too. People in some countries don’t even have a hot water feature on their washers. Can all laundry be washed in cold water? Absolutely!
Benefits of Cold Water
A major benefit of washing your clothes in cold water is the fact that it will make your clothes last longer. Heat can break down dyes in clothes and cause shrinkage, meaning that cold water allows colors to last and clothes to retain their shape and size. Furthermore, if you have a stain on your clothes such as grass, makeup, or blood, hot water can make these stains permanent, ruining the clothes.
Additionally, washing your clothes with cold water saves a great deal of energy. About 90% of the energy used by washing machines during laundry goes towards heating the water, meaning that switching to cold saves most of the energy that is used. In fact, doing laundry in cold water for one year could conserve enough energy to drive a car up to 421 miles!
And, if saving the planet isn’t enough, washing your clothes in cold water helps you save money—up to an estimated $200 on your electric bill each year. Also, with the clothes less likely to wrinkle, you won’t have to power up the iron which will decrease electricity and costs more.
Science Behind Cold Water Laundry
Still not convinced to wash your clothes with cold water? Switch your detergent! Historically, most detergents were made for warm water use. However, many detergents are now being made with cold water technology. For example, Tide uses enzymes in their detergent that are cold water stable and have the ability to cut up the soils to remove stains off of clothing. This makes the detergent just as effective in cold water as it is in hot water.
When To Use Hot Water
Even though cold water can (and should) be used to clean your clothes, the one time to use hot water is when sanitizing. For example, if someone in your house is sick with a contagious disease, use hot water. Even a normal hot water cycle isn’t hot enough to disinfect clothes—you need a machine with a sanitizing cycle which raises the temperature high enough and long enough to kill germs. In order to save energy, you can also sanitize clothes by putting them in a dryer at the hottest setting for 45 minutes. The dryer uses less energy than a washer and is just as effective in sanitizing your clothes.
Additionally, certain clothes require a hot wash and will indicate this on the tag. But, if there is no note on the tag, assume that cold water is the best way to go!