In my last post, I discussed basics cold water laundry facts. Today, let’s talk about some performance and end-result differences you’re likely to encounter and some tips on how to deal with washing in cold water.
COLD WATER LAUNDRY RESULTS and TIPS
Things Dissolve SLOWER in Cold Water
The biggest dissolving issue is with powders, but liquids also are slower to disperse. It is very important that you insure products are dissolved/dispersed before adding clothes. Telltale signs that you were unsuccessful will include white specs/smears with powders and blue/gray spotting with liquids. If this happens, immediately rinse with warm water, wring out the excess, and then dry as usual. Neglect these signs and your clothes could appear duller.
Stains and Soils are MUCH Harder to Remove in Cold Water
The key component to getting clean clothes is your choice of detergent. They contain ingredients such as surfactants, enzymes and builders to attack, dissolve and suspend the stains and soils on your clothes. Laboratory cleaning studies show that better cleaning happens in hotter water. Cleaning decreases from hot to warm to cool to cold. Since cold water can be 70ºF down to 35ºF in winter, this will have a dramatic impact on your stain and soil removal. Technical wisdom says that stain removal will drop an order of magnitude for each 10ºF so expected winter performance can vary widely. If the detergent performance is going to drop, how can you make up for it?
Colder water may lead to more residual germs on your clothes
I have written on this subject several times in the past. Clothes can carry germs into the washer and these can survive in less stressful conditions like warm/cool water. If they are not controlled, they will transfer to other clothes in the same wash and you can “help” spread them when you transfer clothes from washer to dryer. Remember the dryer heat is also not enough to eliminate these problems.
Choices, choices, choices
So now you have the facts and some tips to help you decide when/if cold water washing is appropriate for you. I certainly think it has a place and should be a part of your laundry regime. However, given some of the potential pitfalls, you might want to pick and choose when to use it. It is true that most of adult garments don’t get as dirty as they did for our parents or grandparents and a lot of these may be colored so that cool/cold water washing is ok. During the winter, I would be more cautious with heavily soiled kids clothes, baby clothes and bedding and do these in warmer water. In late spring or summer it may be ok to switch to cool water since the incoming cold water has warmed up.
Next time I will talk about some new additions to our Clorox line for cold water.