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Blogging for Change Blogging For Change
by sitecore\kmcgrigg on December 11, 2008

The results of my 7-year-old’s science experiment proved something that I already knew—hot water cleans better than cold water. But what I did not know is that 90% of the energy used for washing clothes is for heating the water and that washing clothes in Warm/Cold verses Hot/Warm can cut the cost of doing laundry by more than half.

Following is a breakdown from a Web site run by Michael Bluejay (aka Mr. Electricity) showing the total cost per load of laundry.

Total cost per load (electricity + water + electric water heater) 

Hot / Warm 69¢
Hot / Cold 50¢
Warm / Warm 50¢
Warm / Cold 32¢
Cold / Cold 14¢

Because most people do way more laundry in the winter months than they do in the summer months (due to more and bigger clothing), I wanted to share some tips that can help you to reduce the cost and environmental impact of keeping your clothes clean.

-Lower the temperature. Wash your clothes in the coolest water setting possible and use cold water when appropriate.

-Fill ‘er up! If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate water-level setting. Or better yet, wait until you have a entire load (why wants to do that much laundry anyway?!)

-Don’t overdo it. Over washing clothes is unnecessary. Wash clothes that only need a light cleaning on the shortest time setting possible.

-Include some prep-time. To avoid the need to re-wash very dirty clothing, try pre-soaking and spot cleaning first.

For more laundry tips, visit the US Department of Energy’s Web site.

Posted in:  Cutting Costs


Amanda says:
January 16, 2012

My friend and I started a laundry service from our homes a few years ago. We found a way to save money, be eco-friendly and keep the washing machine clean at the same time is white vinegar. Add about 3/4 cup into the rinse cycle and it acts as a natural fabric softner.

Cindy Morus, The Money Mender says:
December 11, 2008

Wow! Those are great tips. I've always washed my clothes in cold water but had no idea of the difference. I also hang everything that I can so I don't have the expense of drying. I've found that almost everything except towels (don't like 'em scratchy!) can be hung. I hand all shirts on hangers right out of the washing machine and when dry, right to the closets. Fast and easy. One time, in college, the apartment manager got mad at me because I hung clothes on the deck and they said it looked trashy! Oh well - I'm still doing it at my own home, 30 years later! Keep up the good work you do! Cindy

Jason from Money Theory says:
December 15, 2008

That's so great that you've been able to break down the cost per load between the different temperature settings. I've always washed all my clothing in cold water because I knew it saved energy and therefore money, but to have an actual dollar amount tied to it makes me feel even better. I never do laundry unless I have a full load to wash. A lot of my family members do very small loads on a daily basis and I've never understood that at all. For one you're wasting a lot of energy and that's just too many unnecessary chores in my opinion. Two more tips I'd like to add... Don't buy "cold water only" laundry detergent. You don't need it, regular detergent works just fine in cold water. Buy concentrated laundry detergent which saves money and is better for the environment. Thanks for the great post! ~ Jason

Jennifer says:
December 17, 2008

Another bonus of doing larger loads is there is also less wear and tear on the machine itself. I only use the hot water cycle on whites and it is a small load most of the time. I always make sure I adjust the water level to the load I am doing. It takes less time to fill the tub hence the less wear on the machine. I read somewhere though that if you compact too many clothes - the machine does not do a very efficient job of cleaning them. Happy Money Saving Washing ! Jennifer

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