Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter April 5, 2013

Cleaning Effect of Household Laundry Detergents at Low Temperatures

Reinigungswirkung von Haushaltswaschmitteln bei niedrigen Temperaturen
  • K. Laitala and H. Mollan Jensen


Lowering the washing temperature of laundry has environmental benefits, but consumers are reluctant to decrease the temperature in fear of not getting clean textiles. The objective of this study was to test eight leading laundry detergents for low temperature washing at 30°C and at 40°C. The cleaning effect was tested by measuring the reflection values of pre-soiled swatches after wash based on standard EN 60456. The results show that the difference in reflection value was on average only 1.9% higher at 40°C than at 30°C, indicating very small difference in cleaning effect. Most differences between temperatures could be seen in liquid detergents for white textiles, and least in powder detergents for coloured textiles. This confirms that modern detergents are suitable for wash at 30°C, and the soil removal will in most cases be satisfactory for household use instead of the more common wash at 40°C.


Die Absenkung der Temperatur beim Wäschewaschen hat Vorteile für die Umwelt, aber die Verbraucher zögern bei niedrigen Temperaturen zu waschen, da sie befürchten, dass die Wäsche nicht sauber wird. Das Ziel dieser Studie ist, acht Waschmittel bei niedrigen Waschtemperaturen von 30°C und 40°C zu testen. Der Reinigungseffekt wird an Hand von Messungen der Remission von angeschmutzten Testgeweben vor und nach der Wäsche gemäß EN 60456 bestimmt. Die Ergebnisse zeigen, dass die Remissionsdifferenz bei 40°C im Mittel nur 1,9% höher ist als bei 30°C, d.h. die Reinigungseffekte unterscheiden sich nur sehr wenig voneinander. Der größte Unterschied zwischen den beiden Temperaturen konnte bei den Flüssigwaschmitteln für weiße Textilien festgestellt werden, der geringste Unterschied war bei den Pulverwaschmitteln für farbige Textilien zu finden. Das bestätigt, dass moderne Waschmittel für die Wäsche bei 30°C geeignet sind. In den meisten Fällen ist die Schmutzentfernung bei 30°C anstatt der üblichen Wäsche bei 40°C für Haushaltsanwendungen zufriedenstellend.

Kirsi Laitala, National Institute for Consumer Research (SIFO), PO Box 4682 Nydalen, NO-0405 Oslo, Norway, Tel.: +47 22 04 35 77, Fax: +47 22 04 35 04. E-Mail:

Kirsi Laitala is a PhD student at Norwegian University of Science and Technology within Industrial design engineering. She has M.Sc. in Textile, fibre and clothing engineering from the Tampere University of Technology and international education titled “European masters in Advanced Textile Engineering, E-TEAM”, including studies at RWTH Aachen, University of Minho and Swedish School of Textiles. At the moment she is working as Principal Engineer at the National Institute for Consumer Research. She has researched on areas related to clothing quality and size issues, and is currently working with sustainability of clothing concentrating on the use and disposal periods.

Dr. Scient. Heidi Mollan Jensen studied chemistry in University of Oslo and finished her PhD in 2003 within inorganic chemistry and catalysis. She has worked earlier as researcher at Royal military college in Canada and at National Institute for Consumer Research. At the moment she is working as senior engineer at The Climate and Pollution Agency.


1. Saouter, E., van Hoof, G., Pittinger, C. A. and Feijtel, T. C. J.: The effect of compact formulations on the environmental profile of Northern European granular laundry detergents – Part I: Environmental Risk Assessment. Int. J. LCA.6 (2001) 363. 10.1007/BF02978867Search in Google Scholar

2. Ryom, N. M.: Adjusting laundry detergents to modern needs with enzymes. Riv. Ital. Sostanze Gr.80 (2003) 313.Search in Google Scholar

3. Arild, A.-H., Brusdal, R., Halvorsen-Gunnarsen, J.-T., Terpstra, P. M. J. and Van Kessel, I. A. C.: An investigation of domestic laundry in Europe – Habits, hygiene and technical performance, Professional report No. 1-2003, National Institute for Consumer Research, Oslo (2003).Search in Google Scholar

4. Ainsworth, P. and Fletcher, J.: A comparison of the disinfectant action of a powder and liquid detergent during low-temperature laundering. J. Consum. Stud. Home Econ.17 (1993) 67. 10.1111/j.1470-6431.1993.tb00154.xSearch in Google Scholar

5. Cunliffe, V., Gee, R. and Ainsworth, P.: An investigation into some aspects of the efficiency of low-temperature laundering. J. Consum. Stud. Home Econ.12 (1988) 95. 10.1111/j.1470-6431.1988.tb00470.xSearch in Google Scholar

6. Davis, S. and Ainsworth, P.: The disinfectant action of low-temperature laundering. J. Consum. Stud. Home Econ.13 (1989) 61. 10.1111/j.1470-6431.1989.tb00005.xSearch in Google Scholar

7. Ryom, N. M.: Multiple enzymes in household detergents. Riv. Ital. Sostanze Gr.78 (2001) 425.Search in Google Scholar

8. Ryom, N. M.: New stain removing enzyme for increased cleaning efficiency in low temperature laundry washing. Riv. Ital. Sostanze Gr.82 (2005) 195.Search in Google Scholar

9. Vasconcelos, A., Silva, C., Schroeder, M., Guebitz, G. M. and Cavaco-Paulo, A.: Detergent formulations for wool domestic washings containing immobilized enzymes. Biotechnol. Lett.28 (2006) 725. 10.1007/s10529-006-9050-6Search in Google Scholar

10. Stamminger, R.: Consumer real life behaviour compared to standard in washing and dishwashing, in: WFK 44th Int. Detergency Conf. Düsseldorf: WFK (2009) 89100.Search in Google Scholar

11. Laitala, K. and Vereide, K.: Washing machines' program selections and energy use, Project Note 2-2010, National Institute for Consumer Research, Oslo (2010).Search in Google Scholar

12. Van Hoof, G., Schowanek, D. and Feijtel, T. C. J.: Comparative life-cycle assessment of laundry detergent formulations in the UK – Part I: Environmental fingerprint of five detergent formulations in 2001. Tenside Surfact. Det.40 (2003) 266.Search in Google Scholar

13. Madsen, J.,Hartlin, B., Perumalpillai, S., SelbyS. and Aumônier, S.,: Mapping of Evidence on Sustainable Development Impacts that Occur in Life Cycles of Clothing: A Report to DEFRA, Environmental Resources Management Ltd, London (2007).Search in Google Scholar

14. Skagerlind, P., Friis-Jensen, S. and Philbert-Nielsen, H.: Sustainable detergents for cleaner environment, in: WFK 44th Int. Detergency Conf. Düsseldorf: WFK (2009) 164168.Search in Google Scholar

15. Saouter, E., van Hoof, G., Feijtel, T. C. J. and Owens, J. W.: The effect of compact formulations on the environmental profile of northern European granular laundry detergents – Part II: Life cycle assessment. Int. J. LCA.7 (2002) 27. 10.1007/BF02978907Search in Google Scholar

16. Klepp, I. G.: Clothes and Cleanliness. Why We Still Spend As Much Time on Laundry. Ethnol. Scand.33 (2003) 61.Search in Google Scholar

17. Kerr, K. L., Rosero, S. J. and Doty, R. L.: Odors and the perception of hygiene. Percept. Motor Skill.100 (2005) 135. 10.2466/pms.100.1.135-141Search in Google Scholar

18. Shove, E.: Converging Conventions of Comfort, Cleanliness and Convenience. J. Consum. Policy.26 (2003) 395. 10.1023/A:1026362829781Search in Google Scholar

19. Terpstra, P. M. J.: Domestic and institutional hygiene in relation to sustainability. Historical, social and environmental implications. Int. Biodeter. Biodegr.41 (1998) 169. 10.1016/S0964-8305(98)00017-1Search in Google Scholar

20. EN 60 456: Clothes washing machines for household use – Methods for measuring the performance (2005).Search in Google Scholar

21. Jensen, H. M., Eilertsen, K. and Srikanthan, S.: Sammenlignende test av 4 flytende tekstilvaskepulver: 2 for hvitt tøy og 2 for kulørt tøy, ved 40 °C og 30 °C, Testrapport 35-2008, National Institute for Consumer Research, Oslo (2008).Search in Google Scholar

22. Jensen, H. M., Klepp, I. G. and Srikanthan, S.: Sammenlignende test av 4 tekstilvaskepulver, 2 med og 2 uten blekemiddel, ved 40 °C og 30 °C, Testrapport 34-2008, National Institute for Consumer Research, Oslo (2008).Search in Google Scholar

23. IEC 60 734: Household electrical appliances – Performance – Hard water for testing (2001).Search in Google Scholar

24. CIE 15.2: CIE Recommendations on Colorimetry (2nd Edition) (1986).Search in Google Scholar

25. Amberg, C., Fäh, D. and Frey, F.: Composition of natural biofilms in household washing machines, in: WFK 44th Int. Detergency Conf. Düsseldorf, Germany: WFK (2009) 8089.Search in Google Scholar

26. Bain, J., Beton, A., Schultze, A., Mudgal, S., Dowling, M., Holdway, R. and Owens, J.: Reducing the Environmental Impact of Clothes Cleaning: A Research Report completed for DEFRA, BIO intelligence Service in collaboration with Giraffe and Intertek, London, (2009).Search in Google Scholar

27. Betz, M. and Cerny, G.: Antimicrobial effects of bleaching agents Part 1: Studies on Escherichia coli ATCC 11229 and Enterococcus faecium ATCC 6057. Tenside Surfact. Det.37 (2000) 230.Search in Google Scholar

28. Betz, M. and Cerny, G.: Antimicrobial effects of bleaching agents Part 2: Studies on bacteria, yeast, mould and phage. Tenside Surfact. Det.38 (2001) 242.Search in Google Scholar

29. Perenich, T. A. and Wilkinson, R. P.: Bacterial survival on fabrics laundered in cold water. J. Consum. Stud. Home Econ.17 (1993) 57. 10.1111/j.1470-6431.1993.tb00153.xSearch in Google Scholar

30. Raschle, P.: Influence of the Washing Temperature on the Bacterial Content of Laundry. Textilveredlung.18 (1983) 37.Search in Google Scholar

31. Block, C., ten Bosch, C., Hartog, B., Lemaire, P. and Stelter, N.: Determination of the microbicidal effect of laundry detergents, Tenside Surfact. Det.38 (2001) 140.Search in Google Scholar

32. Sattar, S. A., Springthorpe, S., Mani, S., Gallant, M., Nair, R. C., Scott, E. and Kain, J.: Transfer of bacteria from fabrics to hands and other fabrics: development and application of a quantitative method using Staphylococcus aureus as a model. J. Appl. Microbiol.90 (2001) 962. 10.1046/j.1365-2672.2001.01347.xSearch in Google Scholar PubMed

33. Scott, E. and Bloomfield, S. F.: The Survival and Transfer of Microbial-Contamination Via Cloths, Hands and Utensils. J. Appl. Bacteriol.68 (1990) 271. 10.1111/j.1365-2672.1990.tb02574.xSearch in Google Scholar PubMed

34. Eberle, U., Lange, A., Dewaele, J. and Schowanek, D.: LCA study and environmental benefits for low temperature disinfection process in commercial laundry. Int. J. LCA.12 (2007) 127. 10.1065/lca2006.05.245Search in Google Scholar

35. in Google Scholar

36. Throne-Holst, H., Strandbakken, P. and Stø, E.: Identification of households' barriers to energy saving solutions. Manag. Environ. Qual. Int. J.19 (2008) 54. 10.1108/14777830810840363Search in Google Scholar

Received: 2010-05-21
Published Online: 2013-04-05
Published in Print: 2010-11-01

© 2010, Carl Hanser Publisher, Munich

Downloaded on 6.12.2023 from
Scroll to top button