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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Coldwater Bleach

By Dr. Laundry January 13, 2011

Q: Do you still make Coldwater Bleach? I live in San Bernardino, CA and was able to buy it about 6 months ago, but can’t find it anywhere.

A: This is a very timely question given how cold it is outside right now, and I wish I had better news for you. Unfortunately, the Coldwater Bleach has been discontinued, but you can always count on Clorox® Regular-Bleach being available. Fortunately where you live in San Bernardino, winter weather is generally pretty temperate and so much of your winter “cold” water is going to be around 60°F. This means common problems for people washing in very cold water may not be as much of an issue for you, such as the detergent failing to adequately dissolve or disperse in the water.

If your clothes washer is newer, chances are the “cold” setting is designed to add water from both the cold and hot lines to produce a minimum wash temperature that will provide better performance than ambient incoming cold water. If you have an older washer, you can always do this yourself manually. Begin by adding detergent to an empty washer and start the washer to fill with hot water. Swish the agitator to help dissolve (powders) or disperse (liquids) the detergent when there is about 3 inches of water in the machine. Then, switch the temperature setting to “cold” and add the laundry load. For bleach loads, for best results dilute ¾ of a cup of Clorox® Regular-Bleach in 1 quart of water and add to the load 5 minutes after the cycle has begun. Or fill your bleach dispenser to the “max fill” line. It is particularly important when washing in cold water to not under-use bleach or other laundry products.

This is not to say never wash in cold water! Reducing wash temperatures is a great way to save energy and important for protecting our planet. Adjusting load sizes, pre-dissolving detergent, pre-treating stains, and even spiking cold water with a little hot are all techniques to get good results and save energy.