Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cold Water Washing is HOT!

Yes, the cold water setting on your washing machine is the way to go. But if you don't do it right your laundry will become stained and unsightly! Why is washing your laundry on the cold water setting such a great idea? For one thing, it's easier on the environment (washing your clothes in cold water will cut carbon dioxide emissions by 100LBS a year). It's also easier on your clothes, and easier on your wallet (you could save $64 a year on your energy bills). What more could you ask for? Washing with cold water is booming with benefits, but it takes special techniques to keep your clothes looking fab without using hot water. Follow my laundry tips, and wash in the cold like a pro!

Items Handy in the Laundry Room

  • Cold water detergent (This specially formulated detergent is made for washing clothes in cold water.)

  • Shout or other Pre-treater

  • Bar Ivory Soap (This simple soap is great for getting out stubborn stains.)

  • Bottle of Regular Aspirin (Not only does it help relieve sore muscles, it helps keep whites bright!)

  • Soaking Bucket

  • Tooth Brush

  • Bottle of Peroxide (This handy ingredient is effective at removing blood and other protein stains, but use it with caution, as it can also lighten fabrics.)

  • Oxy Clean (A fantastic laundry booster.)

  • Baking Soda (Another super laundry booster.)

Sorting is Key

I would say that sorting your laundry is the most important step when it comes to laundry. Not only is this an important step with cold water washing, it is essential to your entire laundry routine! Always sort your laundry. It's the best way to keep whites white and keep colors from bleeding. When I sort laundry at home I always sort as follows; Delicates, whites, towels, light kids clothes, dark kids clothes, jeans, darks, lights and household items. It seems like a lot of sorting, but it really helps keep everything clean and preserved. It's also handy when putting the laundry away as everything is already organized. Did you know that washing towels with your clothes can cause your garments to accrue lint and fuzz? Did you know that jeans can continue to bleed blue dye for their entire life?! Simply sorting your laundry prior to washing can help extend the life of your garments and linens considerably.

Attacking Stains

If you are going to wash laundry in cold water it's really important to treat all stains before washing. If you don't treat the stain prior to washing and drying, the stain can become permanently set in. Depending on the stain I like to either use Shout pre-treater and let it set in for minutes, or Ivroy Soap. I really love to use a bar of Ivory soap for the very tough stains. First, I wet the stain with water, then I rub the stain with the bar of soap. I repeat the process until the stain is mostly gone. Then I toss it into the laundry as usual.

The Big Soak

Soaking heavily soiled items will help them to fully recover from nasty stains. Luckily, I have a soak setting on my washing machine, but anyone can use a bucket or an empty sink. Because whites and baby clothes are so prone to becoming extra dirty, I always pre-soak them as a rule of thumb. To soak, I add a small amount of detergent or Oxy Clean to cold water and soak for 30 minutes.

Some Exceptions

Unfortunately, not everything should be washed in cold water. I always wash my bedding in hot water, the reason being dust mites! Dust mites are microscopic critters that live on bed sheets, feeding off of dead skin cells. An abundance of them can make you susceptible to allergies, and can even make you more prone to catching colds and viruses. If you wash your sheets in cold water you are just giving the little critters a bath. The water temperature in the wash must be at least 120 degrees to snuff them out.

Grease stains are another culprit that doesn't come out in cold water. If I have a table cloth with grease stains all over it, for example, I will pre-treat the stains then wash it in warm or hot water.

Funky smelling towels are another item that always make it into a hot water wash. This helps to kill the bacteria on the towels which can give them a dank, musty smell.

B.O. and deodorant stains don't seem to come out well in cold water either. When it comes to arm pit problems, I just soak in some warm water to get out the funk.


  • I get my whites their whitest with aspirin, not bleach. Bleach can actually yellow garments! I throw about 2-4 regular aspirin to the wash water, let them dissolve, then add the laundry. To be honest, I have no idea why this works, it just does. I actually learned this tip from Lucky Magazine, believe it or not. Aspirin is also great for soaking yellow pit stains.
  • On a heavy wash, such as towels, I will run the spin cycle twice to get out excess water. This reduces dryer time, which is the real energy hoarder.
  • Use less detergent if you have soft water. You don't need as much, and I swear your clothes will come out cleaner.

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