A New Appreciation for Cold Wash

March 2024

Automatic laundry can only expand if efficient cold wash is achieved. All laundry stakeholders need to be in sync with one another in order to create effective solutions. Beyond collaboration, auto-dosing enables improved hygiene results in cold wash by better controlling Sinner's Circle through the release of disaggregated ingredients into the wash cycle and is triggering out-of-silo dynamics. Achieving sustained behavioral change will require linking poor consumer decisions to consequences.

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This report comes in PPT.

Key Findings

Vested interest in industry growth is pushing stakeholders into cold wash

All stakeholders in laundry, from additives and appliances to apparel, have made significant promises regarding carbon emission reductions, partly driven by regulations, while maintaining ambitious growth targets. Automatic laundry can only expand beyond its current household penetration in emerging and developing countries if effective cold washing is achieved, which is one of the reasons why there is considerable investment going into creating cold wash solutions.

Stakeholder collaboration is one of the requirements for credible cold wash solutions

Solving cold wash requires innovation, and innovation requires strong partnerships and collaboration. All laundry stakeholders need to be in sync with one another in order to create solutions that adequately address all aspects of Sinner’s Circle (time, mechanical, chemistry and temperature). This is less likely to be resolved to any degree of satisfaction unless the whole industry can find a way to better collaborate across detergency, appliances and apparel. Some previous strong solutions built in isolation have actually damaged clothing.

Mixing-in-the-moment as a cold wash enabler creates out-of-silo dynamics

Laundry technology is maturing, encouraging both appliance and consumables brands to create their own ingredients and devices, seeking added value and taking revenue from other stakeholders. The most advanced solutions in this space utilise multi-cartridge auto-dosing technologies, assisted by deep learning. These technologies enable improved hygiene results by better controlling Sinner’s Circle through the release of disaggregated ingredients into the wash cycle. Third party tests confirm a substantial improvement in wash performance in cold wash associated with ingredient disaggregation.

Using nudge theory to get consumers where we want them to be

To adopt cold washing at scale, consumer motives must be addressed. Driven by self-interest, consumers often act contrary to their professed eco-conscious convictions. Preaching to consumers about doing the “right thing” is ineffective. Achieving sustained behavioural change will require making poor decisions and behaviours visible and linked to consequences. Everyone hates to realise they are selfish, which makes colour coding, guilt, shame and audiences worth remembering throughout shopping journeys.

Key findings
What is cold washing?
Rising energy prices have put cold wash back on the agenda as a strategic topic
Sinner’s Circle and its central role in making cold wash a reality
Reducing temperature demands a boost in chemical and mechanical action
The Paris Agreement on global GHG emission reduction is driving energy-efficiency
What happens if we fail to crack cold wash in laundry?
In-use phase revealed as biggest contributor to GHG emissions from laundry care
All laundry stakeholders’ sustainability promises for 2030 mean influencing in-home use
There are four main perspectives driving cold wash
There remains a lack of knowledge amongst consumers regarding cold water washing
Old habits die hard, and laundry is no exception
Real and perceived performance limitations of cold wash remain major hurdle
The hypocrisy surrounding eco-consciousness
Immediacy and “quick wash” abuse magnify hygiene issues related to cold wash
Consumer barriers to broader low temperature adoption
A step into the right direction
The changing consumer sentiment on energy saving in laundry
Success in changing consumer temperature choices needs better motivation efforts
Consumer enablers of low-temperature adoption
The need to break our addiction to trying to achieve hygiene through heat
Solutions must also serve the hundreds of millions of households that already wash in cold
Cost of energy is a major factor limiting automatic laundry in developing markets
EU energy labels and its implications for cold wash
Evolving technologies in washing machines boost cold and quick washing
Samsung Quick Drive technology has reinvented the laundry wheel
AEG’s soft water technology combines powerful quick wash and low temperature claims
Ultra-violet radiation and ionisation are emerging hygiene technologies
Panasonic with breakthrough in UV hygiene technology for clothes sanitisation
GE introduces Eco Cold washing machine and advertises its money-saving attributes
Beko EnergySpin launched at IFA in 2023
Haier WashPass launches smart laundry subscription with superior cold wash performance
The link between cold wash and drug-resistant bacteria development inside the machine
Anti-biofilm technologies are present in newer washing machine models
Life energy consumption monitoring incentivises sales through energy “cost of use” data
Samsung’s SmartThings uses AI technology to help consumers control their footprint
Balancing Sinner’s Circle: Appliances
Much has happened since Procter & Gamble started cold wash two decades ago
Ambitious emission targets have set the stage for cold wash in detergency
Chemistry needs to improve to prevent overcompensating behaviour in cold wash
For cold wash to work effectively laundry chemistry will have to do much of the heavy lifting
Cold wash as an industry priority is driving investment in cold-active ingredients
Ingredients that impact cold wash performance: Surfactants
Ingredients that impact cold wash performance: Enzymes
Ingredients that impact cold wash performance: Other ingredients
Ingredients that impact cold wash performance: Bleach
Micro-encapsulation is one way bleach can be added to formulation
A maximum cold wash hygiene cycle with disaggregated ingredient release
Examples of how Procter & Gamble is pushing cold wash into the mainstream
Procter & Gamble and Novozymes develop biobased cold wash enzyme for European market
P&G introduces new laundry additive combatting malodour in active wear
Unilever’s newest laundry capsules are cold wash compatible
Balancing Sinner’s Circle: Detergency
Fabric care instructions and cold water washing
With Scope 3 care labels are coming into focus for the apparel industry
Extended Producer Responsibility for textile companies is being discussed by the EU
Synthetic materials dominate garment composition
Fashion trends that make cold washing more difficult: Fast fashion
Fashion trends that make cold washing more difficult: The rise of sportswear
Mixed loads are one of the main challenges for hygiene and performance
Digital fabric labels using RFID can hold permanent care records
Inditex and BASF develop low-temperature detergent aimed at tackling microfibre shedding
Procter & Gamble partners with apparel retail chain in support of cold wash
Balancing Sinner’s Circle: Apparel
The future is here: One launch and one experiment at a time
In the short term, advocates need to educate the hygiene debate
The need for cross-industry solutions: This is one repeating theme
Technological advancements encourage out-of-silo thinking
Haier’s Internet of Clothing (IoC): When out-of-silo thinking is put into practice
Cold wash will proliferate with advanced mixing-in-the-moment
Superior performance from ingredient disaggregation is eroding industry silos
Combining soft water technology with mixing-in-the-moment will be groundbreaking
The use of nudge theory pushes all stakeholders towards lower wash temperatures
Nudge theory in cold wash: A chain reaction of stakeholders doing the right thing
Cold wash will enable sustainability, democratise access to auto-washing and grow profits

Home Care

This is the aggregation of laundry care, dishwashing products, surface care, chlorine bleach, toilet care, polishes, air fresheners and insecticides.

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