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Trends in laundry to improve cold water performance


Stephanie K. Clendennen
Senior Research Associate, Eastman Chemical Company, Kingsport, U.S.A.


Washing clothes in cold water can reduce the carbon footprint of a load of laundry, but detergent performance is challenged in cold water, especially when it comes to product dissolution and stain removal. In this article, we will 1) review the environmental benefits of cold water wash (CWW), 2) illustrate some of the challenges that current laundry products face when used in cold water, and 3) explore some of the approaches being used to address the CWW challenge, including new surfactants, additives, and product forms as well as test methods to validate performance.

CWW, cold water wash
HE, high efficiency
MEE, methyl ester ethoxylate
APG, alkyl polyglycoside
AO, amine oxide
AE, alcohol ethoxylate
IEC, International Electrotechnical Commission


After clothes drying, the supply, heating, and treatment of water is the biggest energy consumer in household laundry in the U.S. (1). The energy costs of heating water for laundry make cold water washing (CWW) more economically desirable and more environmentally sustainable. In some parts of the world, only unheated water is available for household laundry. In other parts of the world, high-efficiency (HE) washing machines have penetrated a majority of the consumer market; these machines default to a cool or cold water wash and rinse cycle as well as reduce the total water used in the cycle. In the context of CWW performance, average cool or unheated water temperatures vary by machine, source, and season but are generally between 10° and 30°C. Good performance of laundry detergents in water at 20oC would satisfy most consumer situations. There’s a need to improve the performance of d ...

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