Wash clothes with cold water

Why? Washing your clothes uses a sizable amount of energy, especially if you use warm or hot water. About 90% of the energy consumed for washing clothes is used to heat the water. Unless your clothes have oily stains, washing with cold or warm water will clean your clothes just as effectively.
Step by step:
  • Run full loads. Wash full laundry loads whenever possible. Most load sizes use about the same amount of energy, so running fewer, larger loads helps avoid waste.
  • Use high-spin settings. Activate the high-spin setting on your washing machine. This removes a lot of moisture from your clothes, which reduces the amount of time and energy it takes to dry them.
  • Use the coolest water possible. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut energy use in half for washing one load. A cold-water wash and rinse cycle will cost 5 to 10 times less than a hot wash with a warm rinse. Using the cold cycle — when you can — reduces energy use even more. Your clothes will be clean. Though most detergents will work in cold water, some are specially made for cold-water washing. Unless circumstances require, avoid the sanitary cycle, which uses extremely hot water and increases energy use.

Good to know:

  • Cold-water detergents work similarly to conventional detergents, but they use different chemicals to pull dirt and grease from your clothes. These chemicals are more effective than the ones in conventional detergents when used in cold water.
  • If your machine does not automatically adjust the water level depending on your load size, select the lowest possible water level for how many clothes you're washing. The lowest setting can use up to half as much water as the default setting.

For those with kids:  Active kids mean lots of laundry. Running full loads becomes even more important when you need to wash clothes for several household members. Separate out the very oily, dirty clothes for a warm water cycle and leave the rest for cooler water cycles. A hamper or basket with multiple compartments that is easy to access in a laundry closet or hallway can make this task easy for everyone.

Popularity in your area Help

3,599 people do this

Tip Details

Save up to $45 per year

The tips provided on this website are to be used for education and informational purposes only, without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of accuracy, completeness, or fitness for any particular purpose. SCE does not guarantee the quality or performance of any contractor and is not responsible for any goods or services selected. YOU SHOULD NOT MAKE ANY DECISION, INCLUDING PRODUCT PURCHASE OR INSTALLATION DECISIONS, BASED ON THE INFORMATION PRESENTED WITHOUT UNDERTAKING INDEPENDENT DUE DILIGENCE AND CONSULTATION WITH A PROFESSIONAL. You agree that your use of the website and the information herein, is solely at your own risk and without any recourse whatsoever to SCE, its affiliates, partners, or content providers.