Should You Wash Your Clothes in Cold Water?

Probably only consider it if you have a capable detergent

I just listened to Malcolm Gladwell’s “Revisionist History” episode where he shames himself and his colleagues for not saving energy by washing laundry in cold water. He talks to Proctor and Gamble researchers who have been developing detergents that function in cold water. They get a little bit into some science and mention that cleaning enzymes (proteins that speed up reactions) are added to Tide detergent, as well as chelating agents to lock onto dirt, debris, and “ick.” Since Tide Pods are pretty cutting edge, and do allow you to wash in cold water, they are justifiably a little pricey, but may be worth it. I never thought I had a preference for detergent, but clothes just smell so nice after Tide Pod treatment!

It depends on your washing machine

The more water used, the more the heat cost per load will be. If you have an efficient front loading washer that is pretty new, it may not use more than 10 gallons per load. A new-ish top loader will use an average of 20. A top loader that is getting up to two decades in age might use 40 gallons.

Plug your numbers into the calculator:

Does this save you enough to afford Tide Pods?

Now consider the cost of Tide Pods. I usually see them at $20 per jug of 96, which is about 21 cents per pod. If you have a top loader, that may be just about equal to the cost you save on heating the water. With my front load I end up spending slightly more on Tide Pods than what I save on heat, but I am OK with that; I prefer to have the satisfaction that comes with energy conservation.

Alternative detergent

You might say that it would totally be worth spending just a bit more on Tide Pods compared to conventional detergents, but laundry detergent can me almost free. If I decide to just do laundry as cheaply as possible, I use my own homemade detergent. I melt a bar or two of soap into a couple gallons of water, and add a cup of borax and a cup of washing soda. I found that I need to use a little more of this stuff, and include some bleach in the load (diluted before going in to keep from discoloring clothes), because it isn’t quite as good as the brand name stuff. Also, you aren’t REALLY supposed to use this in the high efficiency front-loading machines. There is special detergent for these machines.

Does cold water work to clean your clothes or do some of them stay stinky?

I heard that the stretchy LYCRA shirts are hard to get odors out of. Does cold water work for yall? Even for LYCRA?

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