I was taught to wash my hands in warm water to get them clean i.e. to kill germs. It stands to reason then that I should wash everything in warm water to get it clean. When it comes to laundry though, that is not the case.
A recent announcement from Tide regarding the recommended water temperature for washing clothes is getting some deserved media attention. Tide launched a campaign advising consumers to wash their laundry in cold water to reduce the amount of energy used.
According to a Tide spokesperson and based on EPA’s greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator, washing 3 out of 4 loads in cold water will reduce greenhouse emissions by the equivalent of removing about a million cars from the road for a year or 4.8 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per vehicle per year.
For comparison’s sake, 1 metric ton of carbon dioxide is produced from charging 127,000 smartphones. And there are cost savings of approximately $150 a year in reduced energy costs from not having to heat the water as well as additional savings in clothes purchases. Clothes last longer when washed in cold water.
But what about cleanliness? Will my clothes get as clean if I wash in cold water?
According to Better Homes & Gardens, washing your laundry in hot water is not necessary to get items clean and doing so causes tiny plastic particles known as microfibers to shed from your polyester and nylon clothes.
These microfibers can eventually end up in our oceans and our drinking water since most wastewater treatment systems cannot filter out the microfibers before discharging the treated water. As a result, microfibers account for up to 35 percent of plastic pollution in the oceans where they are mistaken for food by ocean life. These microfibers bioaccumulate in the fish and other wildlife that consume them resulting in toxin concentration in larger animals.
Microfibers are also found in freshwater sources and account for up to 85 percent of human-made debris on shorelines around the world. Ingestion of the microfibers by wildlife is affecting their behaviors and harming them physically by becoming entangled in organs and poisoning organs.
Microfibers from laundry are reduced when washing with cold water. Also, use a nanoball in your washing machine to attract and capture plastic fibers or use a filter in your washing machine. Also, knitted fabrics as opposed to fleece and clothes made of natural fibers instead of synthetic fibers do not create microfiber pollution.
(You may still want to wash items used by anyone in the household who was sick in hot water, but other than that, there is no need to wash items in hot water.)
It is also recommended to use a liquid detergent when using cold water as powders may not dissolve well in cold water.
When choosing liquid detergents though it is important to understand that most use water as an ingredient, therefore, increasing the amount of water used to do a load of laundry.
So, try to buy liquid…
Read more:: Earth Matters: Laundry liability – Opinions