The science behind washing laundry exclusively in cold water has come a long way in recent years, but consumers just aren't buying it—literally. The New York Times notes that sales of cold-water detergents are languishing, even though they generally measure up to their hot-water counterparts and save on money, energy, and greenhouse gas emissions to boot. Consider industry leader Tide Coldwater, which has sales of $150 million in the US, compared to $1 billion for regular Tide.
Even in energy-conscious Germany, marketers have given up trying to push the green benefits of going cold to a skeptical public. "For selling, it is much more effective to focus on stain removal and whiteness, performance and price,” says an executive at Henkel, which markets Persil and Purex. “In market research, when you ask consumers, they currently don’t see the immediate benefit of saving energy.”