It’s laundry time and you’re tempted to push ‘cold’ but doubt the outcome. Just what is the difference in cold, warm and hot water washes in regards to energy efficiency and cleanliness? In the end, they all have their place.
At least 75% of the energy used for laundry is used to heat the water. Hot water can be wasteful, but not always. When sanitizing is needed for cloth diapers, clothing or sheets from illness or rank work-out clothes, hot water is the answer. Yet, keep in mind that bodily fluids are best removed in a warm wash to prevent stain damage.
Cold water cleans dirty clothes in addition to protecting them from fading, shrinking, bleeding or wrinkling. However, the chemical reaction from the soap isn’t as strong with cold water. Therefore, it depends on what you’re washing. Once washed, do you toss all into a dryer that uses up to 12% of electricity used in a household? Try a drying rack in our Utah dry climate and also naturally disinfect clothing with UVA rays from the sun. If the dryer is a must, try using Wool Dryer balls – three or four will cut down on drying time and replace the need for wasteful softener sheets.
Lastly, save up for efficient machines. Non-Energy star top-loaders are water and energy hogs – Front-loaders and Energy-Star top-loaders use ¾ less resources than older machines. Only wash when it’s truly needed, reduce high water temperatures and sort clothing based on temperature need. Cold and warm water should suffice for most loads with the occasional need for a hot flash.