Washing machine

Action: Limit your washing machine to 30 degrees

There’s no need to turn up the heat on modern machines

All modern washing machines come with options to run your wash at anything from cold to 90 degrees, this highest temperature being equivalent to what grandma used to call the “boil wash”.

But she was laundering in the day where washing was done by hand, or using a top-loader if you were lucky. It was also in the day where washing powders were very basic, little more than soap flakes that needed heat and bleach to help get things white.

Modern fabrics need a much gentler treatment, and modern machines and washing powders (or liquids) are much, much more efficient than even ten years ago.

So there simply is no need – in fact it can do lots of damage to your clothes – to be washing at more than 30 degrees.

So this weeks action is to limit your own wash temperature in future, reducing both your energy bills and your carbon emissions.

Why this is important

Most of the energy used by a washing machine is used to heat the water. If we reduce the wash temperature, we reduce energy use, which reduces the demands on our electricity systems, which means less demand for fossil fuels, which means less carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas is emitted.

Reducing our emissions of carbon dioxide through energy use is key if we are going to have any chance of keeping climate change around our planet manageable. Independent tests have shown that:

  • Fast clothes washing programs (hotter cycles) increase energy use by 30–100%
  • Machine temperatures higher than 30°C increase energy use by 30–100%
  • 90% of a washing machine’s energy use is heating the water
  • Using a cold or low temperature wash will deliver significant energy savings

General laundry advice to use less energy and save carbon emissions

  • Choose a machine with A, A+ or A++ energy rating
  • Use the ECO options by default
  • Wash only full loads
  • Limit the wash temperature to 30 degrees maximum
  • Clean your machine regularly
  • Use an effective modern detergent (ideally an eco-friendly brand)
  • Use half portions of detergent (it will work just as well, we promise!)
  • Use delay timers to make use of off-peak tariffs
  • Front loading washing machines use much less energy and water than top loaders
  • Avoid a tumble dryer if you can, line drying can be a massive saving in good weather
power station polluting

Other benefits

As well as saving on energy use and so carbon emissions, this action will:

  • reduce your electricity bill
  • reduce wear on your appliance, so it will last longer
  • reduce wear on your clothing, so it will last longer
  • protect the colours in your clothing

Take action

Limiting your laundry to 30 degrees is another no-brainer really, wouldn’t you agree?

If you haven’t done so already, please sign up to our bulletin “Take Action” using the form below, and thank you for your support.

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