The American Cleaning Institute (ACI)

Cold Water Saves


The Cold Water Saves Initiative educates about the benefits of cold water washing, a sustainable action that greatly benefits the environment with little effort on the individual’s part.

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What's in it for me?

Save energy.

Save your clothes.

Save the planet.

About 90% of the energy the washing machine uses goes towards heating the water. According to the Sierra Club, every household that switches to cold water washing could eliminate about 1,600 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Many garment care labels in your clothing specify to wash in cool or cold water. Your clothes can fade, shrink or bleed when washed in the wrong water temperature. The right temperature can prolong the lifespan of your clothes and save you money. If we all do our part to conserve energy, we can contribute to the health of our planet.


ColdWaterSaves: I Wash in Cold Water from Cold Water Saves on Vimeo.

About the Initiative

CWS-be bold bearAbout the Cold Water Saves Initiative

The American Cleaning Institute® (ACI) and The Sustainability Consortium® (TSC®) have come together to create the Cold Water Saves Initiative. 

Our History

The Why. The When.

In recent years, we have been successful at getting people to understand the importance of sustainable behaviors, practices and purchases, but there has been some difficulty in the ability to convert this belief into consistent action. In 2014, ACI conducted research to benchmark current consumer laundry behaviors, and respondents seemed receptive to washing more loads in cold water.

In 2016, the initiative began with the creation and testing of what we now call the Cold Water Saves Initiative. The target audience of college students/millennials were identified as a group that would be very receptive to the idea

The What

The Cold Water Saves (CWS) brand is meant to be a fun, engaging brand that reinforces the fact that we all have an opportunity to do our laundry in a sustainable way. The correct dosage of detergent, the right size laundry load and even the choice of water temperature can all make a difference.

For years, clothing manufacturers have provided garment care instructions regarding water temperature right on the labels of our clothes. Our mission is not to get everyone to wash every item on cold water, but to let people know there is a wide assortment of clothes that can and should be washed in cold water. If we all followed our garment care labels and washed more of our laundry in cold, there could be substantial impacts on the amount of energy consumed and, in some cases, the longevity of the clothes we wash.


The Cold Water Saves Initiative started with research and will continue to get better through its evolution. One of the requirements to participate in this program is to help us continue to improve the message. A simple way we are improving the message is by asking participants what works. 

The following are research materials you can view and download to aid in your Cold Water Saves Initiative.

Cold Water Wash Technical Brief | download PDF

North Carolina State University Campus Survey Results | download PDF


CWS CareSheet
Fabric Care Sheet
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Cold Water Saves Informative Sheet - Be a Cold Water Hero
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Cold Water Saves Informative Sheet - Washing in Cold Water Uses Less Energy

Learn More

The Facts:

Good for Your Clothes Good for Your Clothes Good for Your Wallet
Check your garment care labels, and you’ll see that many clothes specify to wash them in cool or cold water. This is because cold water is gentler on your clothes, and can protect them from fading, shrinking or bleeding. With cold water you can wash larger, unsorted loads without fear of tie-dying everything you own. About 90% of the energy used by the washing machine during laundry goes towards heating the water. Using cold water to wash some of your clothes eliminates this energy, making your clothes and the planet happy! Decreasing your carbon footprint can be as easy as switching to cool water. Since cold water washing is better for the longevity of your clothes, you’ll save money not having to restock your favorite sweater every year. Cutting back on hot water can help decrease your energy bill, so you can beg your parents for money a little less.

The Fiction: 

You might have heard that hot water washes best, but the times they are a-changing. Years ago, the composition of detergent was different than it is now. New detergent technology introduces enzymes to the scene that actually work better in cold water. There are even some stains (think: grass, makeup and blood) that should only be washed in cold water, as hot water could makes the stains permanent. Load size and amount of detergent can also play a role in how clean your clothes get!