Washing laundry is one of the most widespread housework tasks in the world. Washing machines, performing this task already in many private households, are now responsible for about 2% of the global electricity consumption. Worldwide, more than 840 million domestic washing machines are in use, with an annual consumption exceeding 92 TWh of electricity and 19 billion m 3 of water as well as causing emissions of more than 62 megatons CO 2 eq. In North America, Western Europe and Pacific OECD countries, most households own a washing machine. In these economies standard and label policy programs already addressed and reduced the specific electricity and water consumption of washing machines per wash cycle. Nevertheless, in other world regions, the level of ownership for washing machines is still well below saturation and high growth rates can be observed in developing and newly industrialising countries. As washing machines use water, electricity, chemical substances and process time as resources, also the absolute worldwide resource consumption and emissions of these appliances are still on the rise. Due to different washing habits and practices as well as types of washing machines in different world regions, the specific consumption of resources for doing the laundry is varying to a large extent. On that score, this paper presents an overview of the current situation worldwide as well as respective saving potentials. Bottom-up scenario calculations, carried out for the 11 world regions according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change classification, show that large energy, water and greenhouse gas savings are possible with the ‘Best Available Technologies’ today, and even higher savings will be possible with next generation ‘Best Not yet Available Technologies’. According to model results, these savings are usually also very cost-effective. Following these calculations, it is highly advisable for policymakers world-wide to pay even more attention to improvement options in order to implement ambitious and product-specific policy packages, including minimum performance standards and labelling schemes.