Washing Clothes in Cold Water Saves Money and Energy by: BStone edited by: Sarah Malburg

One of the easiest ways to live more efficiently and reduce greenhouse gas emissions is by washing your clothes in cold water. Learn why cold water laundry is environmentally friendly and how you can save money simply by not using hot water.

Settings Will Save Money!


Washing clothes in cold water can save you money without much effort on your part. It is as simple as changing settings on the washing machine from hot to cold, and using the smallest load setting possible for the amount of clothes being washed. As a result, clothes will still be clean, but also money will be saved, and greenhouse gas emissions reduced.

Is washing in cold water as effective as using hot water? With a cold water detergent, yes it is, although warm water can be necessary in some cases. Manufacturers have designed these detergents specifically for cold water laundry. With extremely tough or oily stains, scrub problem areas by hand before washing. Another option is using warm water to wash the clothes. Laundry can be washed with warm water and still save you some money and energy, although it is important to note that the warm setting is a mixture of hot and cold water, so hot water is still being produced. Grass stains, oil and deep grease stains, and difficult food stains may require a warm water wash cycle. If using the warm water setting be sure to always rinse in cold water.

As an added benefit, not only can you save money by saving energy, but also by preserving clothes. Hot water leads to faded, worn-in, and even shrunken clothes; cold water is more delicate on clothing. Clothes will last longer, with brighter colors, and more intact fabrics by washing laundry this way on a regular basis.

How much money can you save by washing clothes this way? For an individual, washing an average of three loads every week, the total savings will be about twenty seven dollars a year. For a family of four, the savings are closer to eighty or one hundred dollars, depending on how much laundry is washed.

Environmental Benefits

Cold water washing saves energy as well. It is not only beneficial for the individual, but for the environment, and therefore for everybody as a whole. Also, because washing clothes is done by each individual several times a week, the impact of one person switching over to these settings is great. If many people use colder water for cleaning clothes, the environmental benefit is even more profound.

cold water laundry

According to the US Department of Energy, as much as 90% of the energy used to wash clothes in a conventional machine is used for heating the water. The heat used to create hot water can lead to five times as many greenhouse gas emissions than when clothes are washed in cold water. This means that making the small change of using cold water can greatly diminish the overall energy needs of doing laundry. An individual can reduce their monthly emissions by two-thirds of a kilogram from switching to cold water.

Washing Tips

Follow these tips for washing using colder water to help save you money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while still having clean clothes.

  • Use cold water setting for washing when possible
  • Always use cold water setting for rinse cycle
  • Use smallest possible water level size
  • Use cold water laundry detergent
  • Wait to have a full load to do laundry
  • Do not wash clothes that aren’t dirty
  • Avoid the permanent press cycle which uses more water on most machines
  • Switch to an efficient washing machine, such as an Energy Star front-loading machine when possible

Washing clothes in cold water is a simple way to save money. It also will have a long-term beneficial effect on the environment, which is important today, and even more important tomorrow.


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