Sure, hot water cleans and sanitizes clothes, but if you think cold water isn't effective for washing, think again. Cold water can be just as effective at cleaning clothes, and some fabrics fare better without the heat. Even switching your loads to incorporate some cold water washes saves energy, so consider dialing down the heat the next time you wash.
Doing laundry in cold water saves energy, which translates into big savings on your utility bills. Ninety percent of the electricity for one load of wash goes to heating the water to hot, which means 10 cold water washed loads cost as much as one hot load. Cold water washes also save on carbon dioxide emissions for a cleaner planet. Switching to cold can save you $60 per year, as of April 2011, according to Consumer Reports.
If you check the care label on your clothes before washing, you'll notice that delicate fabrics often specify a cold water wash. Washing your goods in cold water can prolong their life span, since the process is gentler. You may notice less wear on your clothes by switching to cold water.
Cold water soaks help dissolve many stains, from urine to blood to eggs. If clothes with these stains get washed in warm water, the stains set into the fabric, making removing the stain very difficult. A cold water soak, followed by cold water washing, is far likelier to restore stained garments to their original condition.
To get clothes fully clean in cold water, look for detergent that's marked "cold water detergent." Not every detergent cleans clothes well in cold water, but those specially marked "cold water" do the job. Alternately, dissolve powdered detergent in hot water, add this to your wash and wash in cold water.
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