If you, like me, have gotten barraged by the Ice-T and Stone Cold Steve Austin Tide ads, you’re probably familiar with the push to use cold water to do your laundry. As it turns out, there are good reasons for this switch.
Cold water washing effectively removes dirt, stains, and even some bacteria. Meanwhile, it’s better for your clothes, the planet, and your wallet.
What is cold water washing?
Lower utility bills
According to Energy Star, 90% of the energy used by operating washing machines goes toward heating water. Switching to a warm water cycle from hot can cut your machine’s energy use in half, and switching to cold will save even more energy.
The Cold Water Saves initiative claims that doing laundry in cold water for a year saves enough energy to drive a car for 421 miles — that’s close to the distance between New York City and Durham, North Carolina.
The energy savings from pushing a button or turning a dial on your washing machine translate into lower utility bills and more money in your pocket. The average load of laundry using the hot or warm water cycle costs you 68 cents — cold water washing costs only four cents.
Though it might not seem like a lot of money, the savings add up. More specifically, you can save around $250 a year just by using cold laundry cycles.
Cold water washing is also great for your clothes. A wash cycle in cold water keeps the colors of your clothes brighter for longer. Plus, you don’t have to worry about your jeans shrinking.
Better for the planet
Clothing fabric degrades to a certain degree with each wash depending on your laundering habits.
Washing clothes made from synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, and vinyl in hot water can break these textiles down more, allowing them to shed synthetic microfibers — a type of microplastic — into the water. Once in the water, these microplastics are extremely difficult to remove and pose a potential threat to human life.
Besides creating fewer microplastics, cold water washing also helps to reduce the use of dirty energy. Burning oil or coal releases gases that trap heat within the atmosphere and contribute to the overheating of our planet.
Washing every four out of five loads of laundry in cold water for a year can keep 864 pounds of harmful carbon pollution out of the air, the same as planting over a third of an acre of forest.
Though cold water washing is the best option most of the time, there are some instances where hot water is necessary, such as disinfecting bedding when someone in your home is sick.