NYT on Cold Water Washing

curiousshopperSeptember 17, 2011

Interesting NYT article on cold water detergents. Hope it works for everyone. I could read it and I don't pay for a subscription to the Times.

I remain among the cold water skeptics.

Here is a link that might be useful: NYT Article

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sshrivastava

Yes, the solution to energy conservation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions is by adding more chemicals to our laundry. Only a corporate entity with a vested financial interest in selling its "cold water" products would promote such a wonderful solution. And how are we supposed to keep our whites white in cold water without using chlorine bleach? You see, some of us don't like bleach - it stinks. I also feel that exclusive use of cold water does absolutely contribute to smelly washer syndrome.

The solution to energy conservation isn't switching our laundry to cold water. The solution is to supply the US population with power generated from green sources - wind, tidal, solar, etc. Did you know that we could build enough solar-thermal plants in Arizona to supply the entire US with electricity? The problem is that the government (local AND federal) lack the political will to do anything but maintain the status quo - which, by the way, is killing us.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 12:05PM
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asolo

And, as usual, NOWHERE in the article does it say what temperature "cold" actually is nor anything about water quality.

OK...let's arbitrarily say "cold" is 70F.....or pick your own number. So..the proposition is that my whites are going to get just as clean at 70F as at 120F? What a load of garbonzo beans. Apparently written by scientists who don't do their own laundry.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 2:03PM
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nerdyshopper

I guess the only answer to know it all politicians is to figure out what our goals really should be and how to get there without odious stop gap regulations. So many vested interests in this country (and the world) want their causes supported by government regulations. We have the greens, the food police, global warmers, save the salmon (or spotted owns), tree huggers, etc. They are winning the battle for government attention at everyones expense. I wish our industry would find the solution as to how to get there before being forced. Unfortunaly we also have a bottom line quarterly profit power that doesn't allow this.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 2:29PM
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cme10ae

asolo, good question - just what is "cold" water? I just took the temp of my tap water, it's 68F. But last February I measured it at 42F. I'm lucky to get anything clean at 42F, with or without extra chemicals.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 3:28PM
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sshrivastava

soapbox(on)_

Our environment absolutely needs to be protected - it is the source of all life on planet earth. Also, the environment belongs to all of us - that is why government regulations are supposed to help level the playing field. I breathe the same air as my neighbor, but if he starts burning all of his trash outside then I am no longer breathing clean air. Government regulations don't allow my neighbor to do this, for the betterment of everyone. I hate to quote science fiction films, but it is absolutely true that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. This is where capitalism and socialism need to come together and find common ground. While we all want to be free individuals, we also must have a greater sense of social responsibility or our society will disintegrate. You see, the planet will continue spinning with or without humans, so let's do the best we can while we are here and stop doing things to accelerate our own demise.

I find it astonishing that, as a people, we cannot agree that wastefulness is bad. If wasteful government spending is to be demonized, then so should wastefulness in every other area. As a people, how can we not agree that removing pollution from the air that we breathe, the food that we eat and the water that we drink is a good thing? These are all basic, fundamental principles that rational people should agree are good and positive. Yet we have crazy politicians running around saying they want to get rid of the EPA.

I have news for those nut jobs. Time always moves forward, never in reverse. This is the 21st century, not the 19th. If you are so desperate to go back in time, go antiquing instead! :)

soapbox(off)_

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 3:36PM
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asolo

@sshrivastava...

Ah, soapboxes....here's mine....

If you want to wash everything in cold water, go for it.

For myself, I'll match my own "carbon footprint" against anyone's. I take "navy" showers; I flush my toilet once a day unless I have company; I don't wash my car; I have a small efficient house; I have a small efficient car that I don't take trips in; when my stuff breaks, I fix it: I don't have debt, notwithstanding that I'm expected, apparently, to help pay off everybody else's; and I'm saving the taxpayers tons of money otherwise by taking care of mom myself. I live happily and don't cause problems that require intervention by authorities or agencies.

Went I want a hot wash, I do believe I will continue to have one.

When the water-softener and RO police come to get me, will you bail me out?

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 4:40PM
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sshrivastava

@ asolo

My soapbox is orange and says Tide. What's yours? :)

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 5:54PM
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asolo

Actually, ditto. : )

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 7:14PM
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livebetter

@sshrivastava, one could make a similar arguement about people who choose to use petroleum based products when renewable options exsist :)

Most conventional cleaning products are made with ingredients derived from petroleum. Petroleum consists of long chains of carbon atoms connected to each other. When the petroleum is refined, these long chains are broken into smaller chains. Some chains have just two carbons (this is called 'ethylene' and is used to make many products, such as the plastic, 'polyethylene'), some chains have eight carbons (this is called 'octane' and i bet you can tell where it is used), and there are other chains with just about any number of carbons you can count on your fingers and toes. Conventional cleaning product manufacturers combine these smaller chains of carbon to make the solvents and other cleaning agents used in their products. This is true whether the products are liquids or powders.

"Natural" cleaning products are made with oils derived from plants. The most commonly used plant oil is coconut oil. Corn oil, soy oil, and palm oil are also used.

In general, manufacturing a "natural" cleaner uses less energy and produces less green house gases than using a conventionl cleaner. Also, generally, plant-derived ingredients are more expensive than petroleum-derived ingredients (compare the price of a gallon of gasoline to a gallon of canola oil).

Just sayin' ;)

Here is a link that might be useful: How Our Products Save Petroleum

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 10:13PM
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asolo

May I assume you use them in cold water? May I assume you've turned the heater off in your DW, too?

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 12:54AM
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livebetter

@asolo, it was a joke for @sshrivastava.

I do use greener detergents when I can yes. I don't think it's necessary to wash everything I own in Tide or Persil. When the load warrants it I use them. When it doesn't I use something "greener" made from renewable resources.

They work perfectly fine and I believe I'm using something less bad in the grand scheme.

I wash in mostly warm although I do the occasional load (like tea towels) in hot. I do wash delicates and such in cold.

I certainly didn't buy a new Miele to wash in all cold.

As you said earlier, we cannot judge people for individual choices they make. It's their collective actions that can make a difference.

It's just sad to me when some individuals are so self centred and in denial about the state of things that they won't do anything to conserve.

I have a new Miele DW. It does its thing as it was intended (with hot water). It is, however, very energy efficient :)

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 9:25AM
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asolo

It's OK....I'm over it. : )

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 10:26AM
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sshrivastava

@ livebetter

You make an excellent point. While there is a place for conventional products like Tide because they work well, there are often situations where I'm washing laundry that is hardly soiled at all. There is no reason why we can't use more natural alternatives for those less challenging loads. Naturally derived products get a bad rap for not cleaning very well - and I can confirm this to be true across all the natural products I've tried. However, a good number of my loads can still be cleaned adequately with those products because they aren't that dirty to begin with. I'm talking work clothes, mostly.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 1:26PM
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curiousshopper

It's interesting to see the photo of the P&G researcher testing the same little stain blotches like Consumer Reports tests for. I'm sure the cold water formula does do well on those test blotches.

But I wonder how it does over many washings on regular dirt and soils like body oils...the skeptic in me still suspects graying over time in cold water.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 1:44PM
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sshrivastava

@ curiousshopper

... not to mention what may be accumulating inside of people's machines.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 3:30PM
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suburbanmd

Quoting a Henkel executive, the article says "Some [cold-water detergents] even contain chemicals that coat fabric fibers so that they are less likely to absorb dirt in the interval before the next washing." So they add something (arguably a contaminant) to the clothing, to make up for a lack of cleaning effectiveness. One can imagine it causing allergy or sensitivity issues in some people.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 5:18PM
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herring_maven

suburbanmd: Quoting a Henkel executive, the article says "Some [cold-water detergents] even contain chemicals that coat fabric fibers so that they are less likely to absorb dirt in the interval before the next washing." So they add something (arguably a contaminant) to the clothing, to make up for a lack of cleaning effectiveness. One can imagine it causing allergy or sensitivity issues in some people.

In other words, the Henkel executive said that some cold water detergents work just like fabric softeners. One can imagine fabric softeners causing allergy or sensitivity issues in some people.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 8:31PM
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sparky823

Referring to the statement by the Henkel Executive,is this not similar to the "Actilift" formula by Tide?

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 2:20AM
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mara_2008

curiousshopper, thank you for posting this article. It was very interesting and also very revealing.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 7:51AM
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asolo

Look at it this way.......

I think everyone would agree that we get food and food oils on our clothes with some frequency. Babies get lots!

Standard DW temps are 120F+. And yet the appliances forum has YEARS of posts from countless people complaining their purpose-built machines using those temperatures with purpose-specific detergents often don't clean their dishes of that food and oil residue even with 2 1/2-hour cycles.

But....this NYT article would have us believe that exact same soil on or within the fabric of our clothing is going to come clean in cold water and a shorter cycle.

Nonsense. There's an agenda at work.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 12:31AM
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westvillager

Better living through chemistry. Great find, curious.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 11:46AM
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dianalo

I wash the majority of our clothes in cold water. I use stain spray as needed on tough spots and our clothes come clean.
If everyone was just open to trying it for some of their loads, that would be a big improvement.
It does not have to be all or nothing. I use hot water once in a while for a load and do not feel guilty. I do what I can to conserve and try to keep it in mind.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 12:37PM
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asolo

"It does not have to be all or nothing. I use hot water once in a while for a load and do not feel guilty. I do what I can to conserve and try to keep it in mind."

I agree. Don't know anyone who uses hot for everything.

When I read articles like this I'm personally laboring under my annoyance with the machine mfgrs whom one has to wrestle with in order even to learn what they consider "cold", "warm", or "hot" anymore. Don't know the proportion of machine buyers/owners who can no longer EVER get an actual hot wash because of their machine's non-disclosed limitations but, judging from what's posted here and elsewhere, their numbers are legion. That's why I used the word "agenda".

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 1:21PM
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dualref

Isn't flushing your toilet only once per day rather unsanitary and taking this a little too far?

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 6:01AM
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curiousshopper

If it's yellow let it mellow!

Nothing wrong with that IMO.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 8:06AM
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sshrivastava

@ dualref

I think a lot depends on what you put into the toilet! :P

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 9:45AM
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westvillager

Ew.

I thought a cold wash was a bullseye standard of 30C or 85F.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 10:15AM
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