Sometimes, a banner ad manages to catch my eye. This time, it was one from EnergyStar, the energy-efficient appliance certification people. Their ad features a “summer energy saving tip”, specifically to wash your clothes in cold water. I’ve seen this advice before and it always irks the hell out of me, because it’s an example of trying to reduce energy by not actually accomplishing the task you set out to do. Cold water simply does not dissolve soap as well as hot, or at least warm, water. Go grab a bar of soap and check out the difference in washing your hands with cold water as compared to warm water. And that’s just on the surface of your skin – not absorbed into cloth. Many clothes don’t need to be washed with truly hot water, of course, but a cold water wash and rinse just does not get the same amount of soap out, and if you reduce your soap usage too much, you sort of miss the point of, you know, washing your clothes.