Throw cold water on those old laundry lies

I was told some time ago by a very reliable source (Jack Anchick) that washing and rinsing clothes with cold water does just as good a job as using hot water. I have followed that process for years with dainty things, as well as for mechanics coveralls and other heavily soiled items.

My laundry is fresh and clean, but I have some dear friends who think I'm nuts. What insight can you provide?

— Nancy F., via email

Most folks, like your friends, Nancy, stubbornly cling to the belief, instilled in them by their mothers, that hot water and lots of suds is the recipe for clean, lavender-scented clothes.

However, research has since proved that in most cases — and with the right detergent — cold water will get the job done.

Hot water causes garments to fade, shrink and wear out faster and is a waste of money and energy, according to articles in The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor and numerous other publications. But still people refuse to turn down the temperature.

In 2011, The New York Times published that Procter & Gamble, a manufacturer of consumer products, including Tide, estimated that only about 38 percent of the laundry done worldwide is done in cold water.

According to your source, Jack Anchick, owner of Town & Country Cleaners, hot water needs to be used only with "deep-seated stains," such as grease. Anchick added that to be really effective in sterilizing, hot water should be about 190 degrees, but most home water heaters are set at a tepid 120 degrees so as not to scald.

Big-name brands such as Cheer, Tide, Purex and Surf now have detergents that are formulated for cold water. If only consumers were more willing to utilize them.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com.


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