As consumers begin to look for more ways that they can make small adjustments in their everyday lives to make a difference in combating their environmental impact, the home care industry is looking at ways in which these trends in home cleaning are changing the products, ingredients, strategies that consumers implement in their homes.
One trend seeing a significant rise in popularity in recent years is cold washing. The method of doing laundry has become more popular over the last couple of decades because people just don’t need to wash their clothes in boiling hot water anymore in order to make sure they’re clean. Most of the work is done by detergents and in the machine itself, so the temperature of the water used to wash clothes does little to help get rid of stains and dirt in the same ways that it used to. Modern machines are much more efficient and are designed to allow cold water to have the same effect as hot water when washing clothes.
Benefits to cold washing
In fact, most clothing should not be washed in boiling water because it can contribute to making the clothing fall apart or wear out faster, as well as contributing to color bleed and shrinking that can leave consumers having to throw away their items sooner than necessary. Plus, heating water in a washing machine takes a significantly more amount of electricity than using cold water does. Cold washing is often considered a more eco-friendly way to wash your clothes for this reason. Consumers like the incentive of being able to save money while washing their clothes while simultaneously minimizing the risk of damaging their items in their home washing machine.
Heating water takes a lot of energy, and laundry detergent companies are encouraging consumers to cut back on their hot water usage by promoting using cold water instead. On average, washing machines use around 25 gallons of water during each load of laundry. Heating that much water represents a significant amount of energy that consumers end up having to pay for in their electric bills, so opting for cold water is often a cheaper, yet just as effective option when it comes to cleaning their clothes.
Companies like P&G have encouraged consumers to switch to cold washing over the last couple of decades because they know of the benefits that come of it. An estimated 90% of the energy used to power a washing machine generally goes toward heating the water used to wash clothes. That means that by switching to cold washing only, consumers are paying as little as 10% of what it would cost to wash their clothes in boiling hot water—plus, it saves their clothes. But the issue is that the enzymes in many detergents must be used in hot or warm water to be activated, so more and more companies are investing in the development of detergents that can be used in cold water.
According to an organization called Cold Saves, which is dedicated to encouraging consumers to wash their clothes in cold water, cutting out the use of hot water in washing can save as much as 864 pounds of carbon emissions from the environment in one year. If that change isn’t enough of an incentive for consumers, the organization also points out that washing with cold water can bring the price of a single load of laundry down to just $0.04 cents (USD) per load, compared to an average of $0.64 cents per load with hot water.
But only specific detergents can be used to wash clothing in cold water because many detergents need hot water in order to utilize the full benefits of the active ingredients. Ingredients like sodium bicarbonate are common to cold water detergents because they don’t need to be exposed to hot water in order to work on washing clothes.
Sodium bicarbonate is a popular ingredient in detergents because it has the ability to remove dirt and oil from porous surfaces like fabrics and keep them clean. Also called washing soda, sodium bicarbonate acts as a water softener by softening the minerals in hard water to help the water absorb into clothing and lift dirt and soil from fabrics. The bicarbonate then holds the soil in the water and prevents it from re-absorbing into the fabric to keep them clean. Since many sodium bicarbonate products are used in things like detergents or soaps, many of the ingredients offered through Chemberry have been approved for use in personal care products as well.
Different enzymes, such as lipase, amylase and cellulase, often need cold water in order to break down stains from different soils like food and dirt. Certain enzymes like amylase, can be broken down in cold water as well as hot water. This makes cold water laundry detergents just as effective as hot water detergents.
The good thing about eco-friendly products and ingredients is that consumers are already looking for them, and will likely only keep looking for them in the future. Household goods like laundry detergent are products that few consumers can go without, so encouraging consumers to make small changes (that really make no big difference in their everyday lives aside from saving them money) with these products can only be good for a brand.
If your product is cold-washing friendly, make sure consumers know that clearly through the packaging on your detergent. Attract your demographic by using natural colors like white, brown, green, and blue in your labels and packaging to make your consumer feel as if your product is associated with natural, clean ingredients. This study on the use of color in natural skin care products can be used for reference, as many consumers treat skin care and home care with the same attitude.
Additionally, gain trust from your audience by including quick facts or numbers about the benefits of cold washing right on the packaging itself, such as the money that consumers will save by making the simple switch and how it will create a positive impact on the environment. Use design, color, and facts to your benefit to help your consumer feel that they’re making a difference in the world by choosing your product over another.
Packaging and the package free movement
However, even if a product is as eco-friendly as possible, it will still have some sort of environmental impact in some way. Think about things like packaging or supply-chain processes and how those can impact the environment in a negative way. Liquid detergents that come in plastic contribute to the ever-growing global waste issue, while the resources and fuel costs of transporting ingredients and products from one place to another until they reach the consumers’ home contributes to the input of greenhouse gasses around the world.
Consider packaging your product with eco-friendly packaging (dry detergents, for example, use cardboard rather than plastic) or manufacturing processes that will lessen the carbon footprint left behind. Liquid detergents could come in biodegradable or water-dissolvable pods, while powder detergents could be packaged in recyclable cardboard boxes.
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