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Why are so many fabrics cold water wash?
DeeMye
DeeMye  Friend of PR
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Date: 4/27/13 1:18 AM

I am getting back into sewing after taking a break for a few years. I have been perusing fabric on the internet, and along with washing my children's clothes I have noticed the "Cold water wash" trend for everything. The cotton underwear I buy for my girls at Walmart says to wash in cold water (which I don't do since cold water is not very sanitary for this type of clothing), their Carhartt overalls made of duck cloth says to wash in cold water (this has got to be a joke???) and most cotton fabric I look at to purchase by the yard (mostly quilting types from Walmart, Jo Anns or wherever) says to wash in cold water. Can anyone tell me why? Has the production of fabric gotten so cheap that it will not be able to withstand warm water? Or is it a "save the planet" type thing washing with cold water?

Kwaaked
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Date: 4/27/13 3:51 AM

It's a CYA thing, mostly. Warm and hot can fade out garments, some cotton garments can shrink (in combination with drying I believe) and yes, it is thinner then in recent years which can add to the pilling and thin spots.



PattiAnnJ
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In reply to Kwaaked <<


Date: 4/27/13 9:07 AM

Exactly.

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beauturbo
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In reply to DeeMye <<
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Date: 4/27/13 3:07 PM

Well cold water wash and hang to dry, would be less likely to shrink something, (not pre-treated and pre-shrunk) and if your colors were dark or the dye not very fast, probably less likely to run. Also if a dark color like black or navy blue, might fade less overtime.

So by putting that on there, they are trying to absolve themselves of any of those things as much as possible. Next it will all say "dry clean" probably too- even for those things, but I hope not!

Most times if it's girls cotton underware or denim or canvas overalls though, I think just zero shoppers would ever do that. So I think everyone else just ignores those washing instructions. The one thing it would make me do when I saw that on those though, is figure it might be a bit more prone to shrinkage, as maybe they did not bother to pre-shrink first. So if caught between two sizes of either of those, and planning on washing them hot or warm and tossing in the hot clothes dryer, which I would just always do, if iffy, I might buy the larger size v.s. the smaller one, just to be on the safer side of that.

tinflutterby
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Date: 4/28/13 0:21 AM

Then to make sure they are completely covered they add Separately. Sure everything is getting its own load. LOL

kitphantom
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Date: 4/29/13 10:29 AM

I think it is a CYA thing. I wash all fabric as I will when sewn into a garment or other item, or hotter than I plan to do so. I like hot water washes for many items, but our new washer, after 20+ years with the previous one, adds cold water even to the hot cycle. All rinses are cold.

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Miss Fairchild
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In reply to DeeMye <<
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Date: 4/29/13 11:04 AM

Back in the day, when the world was nicer and we were all happy... manufacturers made durable fabrics that would withstand the warm and hot water washes we would give them. And sometimes those fabrics, for RTW, were preshrunk, before the garment was made. Recently I've seen linen shirts with a cold wash, delicate cycle, tumble dry low label. Are you kidding??

To answer your last two questions: Yes (regarding cheap) and Maybe (saving the planet). While I'm an advocate of saving the planet, I don't think that the cold water change is going to make much difference, what with poor air quality, poor water quality, etc., etc.

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Rosalaya
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Date: 4/30/13 8:27 AM

I've been cold water washing for years. No hassle. Quicker. Clean as. Cheaper than warm or hot. Works just as we'll. re knickers, hang inside out in the sun which also cleanses - but I understand your not always permitted to hang stuff outside in America?

kitphantom
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Date: 4/30/13 9:15 AM

@Rosalaya: even when I had the place to hang washing outside, I made sure to dry fabric in the dryer, I would much rather have any shrinkage before I make it into something. Before I moved to the SW,
I used to have clotheslines outside, but winters winter weather meant I had to use the dryer most of the time. My current house has lines in the sunroom and I do dry a lot of things there. No room in our yard for clotheslines, and windy season in New Mexico means dirt blowing through the air - a lot. For other people, they may not be able to have lines outside due to home owners' associations, or live in apartments other places with no way to have outside lines.

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Bernina: 910, 930, 180, 440
Bernina 1150MDA
Bernette 004D serger
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clothingengineer
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In reply to Rosalaya <<
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Date: 4/30/13 10:23 AM

My mother and I do something similar. The UV rays from the sun are great at killing bacteria! And they end up smelling so much nicer than stuff dried in the dryer.

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-- Anne
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