How to sustain sustainable washing habits – How inflation and market dynamics have impacted laundry consumer behaviour in the last year and its effect on sustainable washing habits


Novozymes A/S, Bagsværd, Denmark


By analysing two consecutive consumer surveys conducted in 2021 and 2022 across the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy, the overarching question was addressed: Has inflation changed the way consumers wash? The result was very clear: Yes, consumers have reduced their average washing temperature by 1,9°C, changed wash programs and adjusted load sizes. Consumers also indicated that they perceived a drop in detergent performance, which was further validated in a technical stain removal test. Both the consumer survey and technical test results confirmed that consumers are facing new washing challenges due to inflation. While some of the wash behaviour changes are indeed more sustainable, for example cold wash, this also requires higher performance of detergents to maintain the wash experience and sustain those behaviours.

The average washing temperature across Europe has been nearly constant for the last decade. Also, widely spread initiatives from European industry association, machine and detergent manufacturers, for example A.I.S.E “I prefer 30” campaign did not result in a further decrease. However, in the past year, unprecedented inflation and escalating energy prices has caused consumers to rethink their everyday habits, both at home and in the supermarket. The question is raised: Will significantly increased energy costs along with inflation finally change the situation and force consumers to wash at lower temperature? Moreover, is convenience outweighing sustainability, or do consumers lack awareness of the energy impact of their machines’ washing cycles?


To address the changes in laundry habits among Western European consumers in 2022, a conjoint consumer survey was conducted. The study involved a total of 1733 participants, with a near-equal distribution across the five largest countries: UK, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy. Among the partic ...