Thread Number: 71643  /  Tag: Detergents and Additives
Cold water laundry in past decades...
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Post# 948049   7/13/2017 at 14:52 (342 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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Something I've wondered about off and on is how well doing laundry in cold water worked in past decades. I know there were detergents supposedly aimed at cold water laundry. I know there was All Temperature Cheer. And I have to assume that there was interest in turning the temperature down during the energy crisis of the late 70s. well did clothes actually get washed? I am assuming not terribly well, since warm water never really went away. And trying for cold water today often ends in disaster.


But at the same time, I have wondered if it didn't work better than I'd give it credit for. The late 1970s still had lots of good top load washers about that used lots of water (which, I'm assuming, helped). And I have wondered if the detergents might not have potentially been better in some ways back then before it became a big worry engineering things for sensitive skin and environmental issues.


What do others think?

Post# 948052 , Reply# 1   7/13/2017 at 15:55 (342 days old) by Yogitunes (New Jersey)        

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I know we cut back, if not full cold, we at least did a luke warm.....heavily soiled or greasy clothes got a full warm temp.....

we used All Temperature Cheer or Cold Power......which seemed to be very effective...versus what suffers by todays standards of the muck/mold/mildew issues left on clothing and machines....

I can understand in the energy crisis, and using upwards of 20 gallons per fill, trying to cut back where you could....

but I never understand whats the cut back using an HE machine......

I was thrilled to get my first Neptune......only a few gallons needed for the wash.....I was all about hot and warm.....and then to add on a warm rinse as took me back to how laundry was done in years gone past....

not to mention, less water, less detergent, and lesser dry times.....

with the addition of a gas dryer, seems I had the best of both worlds in savings....

I would like to see original Cheer or Cold Power come back, but don't know if I would go to all cold washes....

the best I ever got out of cold washes, was letting the machine agitate for a few minutes, and then a long soak, anywhere from 1 to 5 hours, and then let it finish from there.....

Post# 948059 , Reply# 2   7/13/2017 at 17:52 (342 days old) by DADoES (TX, U.S. of A.)        

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I personally have never washed in cold water, except the rare case of an item that really needs it.

One (probably both) sisters run everything in cold.  The one that lives 6 hrs away, I can't examine her machine.  The one that lives 40 miles away, both her 1985 Maytag toploader and the Samsung frontloader that a friend gave to her and I refurbed a year ago were/are infested with smutz.  The Maytag she didn't notice so much except for seeking strongly-scented detergents.  The Samsung she finally complained last month, and I directed her to run the machine-clean cycle with a dose of LCB.  She reported it's "much better."  Trick is to keep her running the cleaning routine on it.

The parents use warm for towels & sheets and such, mostly tap-cold for "clothes" -- not so much for energy concerns but for dad's "hot water shrinks your clothes" concerns.  He had to have caught that from current marketing.  Warm (old-style strong warm) was the go-to for many years prior.  Haven't been able to change his mind, even in regards to at least choosing ATC cold (which isn't much relevant except during the few winter months) on the Kenmore 90 DD TL.

Post# 948067 , Reply# 3   7/13/2017 at 19:48 (342 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

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Prior to the 1970's or even 1980's a majority of laundry detergents were powdered, and a good number would not dissolve well in cold water. Considering top loading fully or semi automatic washing machines dominated the USA market, and none had internal heaters, cold water was what you got out of the taps.

Detergent makers and consumer advisory groups/persons advised dissolving powdered detergent in hot or warm water if doing a wash in cold. Even then it always didn't work and you got washing caked in various detergent residue.

The other bit of advice was to increase the amount of detergent used if washing in cold water. This recommended amount could be one-half to double the amount of product. Curious fact, Tide Coldwater is actually a bit stronger than other Tide detergents. The cap on my liquid bottle is noticeably smaller than other versions.

There were of course "cold water" detergents back then, in fact they actually pre-date "heavy duty" versions. But these light duty products were often SLS or similar based products (Dreft, Vel, Woolite, etc....) and were not suitable for normal washing.

In the 1970's with the energy crises you got Cold Power and some other products that claimed to clean in lower temperatures. Then there were the liquids like Wisk which also did the same; but many weren't buying into that idea.

Mother used Cold Power during the 1970's but she rarely if ever washed anything in other than warm or hot.

Problem with cold water washing is you cannot change the five variables of good laundering practice:

Water Amount/Level
Mechanical Action
Chemical Action
Water Temperature

Where any one of these varibles are decreased one or more of the others must increase to compensate.

Post# 948085 , Reply# 4   7/13/2017 at 22:35 (342 days old) by brisnat81 (Brisbane Australia)        

I grew up in a house of cold water washing, it was always Cold Power in a traditional Top load machine for most of my child hood. Mum used Hot/Warm when she had a twin tub, but the Automatic with a manual suds saver used too much water, so it was always cold unless it was dads greasy work overalls.

The big difference between warm and cold was the pre-treating. Mum would use Preen stain remover spray, plus Sard stain removal soap and then soak in oxygen bleach. That got rid of the stains and kept things looking clean.

The big thing I notice now as an adult, was the musty towels. I grew up with towels changed twice a week and when they were washed in cold they smelt musty as soon as they got damp. As an adult with hot water washing, try as I may, I can never replicate that smell. I can usually tell now whether someone will have scrud in their washer just by showering and using one of their towels, that Musty slightly sour odour takes me straight back to my childhood.

Post# 948121 , Reply# 5   7/14/2017 at 05:51 (341 days old) by Gyrafoam (Roanoke, VA)        

Use HOT wash for everything. Sometimes HOT rinse as well. Never have any problems.
I would not wash my dishes in COLD water and I'm not going to wash my clothes in it either.

Post# 948215 , Reply# 6   7/14/2017 at 19:46 (341 days old) by angus (Fairfield, CT.)        

During the 1970s we also had Cold Water All liquid and powder. My recollection of cold water washing at home was limited to bright colors and delicates. While my mother tried doing general laundry in cold water with a variety of cold water specific detergents- Cheer, Cold Power, Cold Water All, etc... the results were pretty dismal. My father was a construction worker and my mother worked in a factory. So their work clothes were a challenge and with our ice cold tap water, she soon abandoned the practice and went back to warm/hot water washing . Another fact was that in the early 70's phosphates were eliminated from detergents so that exacerbated the problem further - lots of undissolved detergent at the end of the cycle or white powdery streaks on dark clothes. And we have soft water - I can't imagine what laundry done in cold hard water looked (and smelled) like.

And while most major brands of detergent said they were effective in cold water, I do remember that Sears powder specifically stated "not recommended for cold water washing".

Post# 948222 , Reply# 7   7/14/2017 at 20:23 (341 days old) by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        

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I keep some Era in the shed where my '48 Kenmore is and have no choice but cold well water from a seasonal hose from my outside faucet. I wash dog towels, etc in it and they wash just fine. Washing anything else is in the Maytag on hot which ends up warm and everyone is happy. My mother said you cant get your hands clean washing with cold water, how can your clothes be clean.

Post# 948763 , Reply# 8   7/18/2017 at 10:47 (337 days old) by dermacie (my forever home (Glenshaw, PA))        

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I am no expert but I always wash my whites and undies in HOT water. They seem dingy if I use cold. I wash my regular clothes in warm water and cold for wool.

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