This week on Revisionist History, world-renowned critical thinker and New York Times’ best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell turns his inquisitive eye to the world of laundry to answer a burning question – “should I wash my clothes in cold water?” And who better to answer this question than America’s number one trusted brand for laundry, Tide.
Revisionist History, Gladwell’s critically acclaimed podcast that examines “things overlooked and the misunderstood,” uses episodes to re-examine something from the past – an event, a person, an idea, even a song – and asks whether it was understood right the first time. As Gladwell turned his eyes to the laundry room, he looked no further than Cincinnati, Ohio – the home and Global Headquarters of Procter & Gamble.
The episode, titled “Laundry Done Right,” dives deep into the question over laundry room water temperatures and why Americans, specifically, have always been a reluctant adopter to cold water washing. And the answers that Gladwell seeks to find are often surprising, packed full of unexpected barriers, benefits and even investment that hides behind the big question of cold water washing.
Episode 8 of Season 6 of Revisionist History features Gladwell’s February 2021 visit to Cincinnati – where he toured both the downtown General Office Building and the Ivorydale Technical Center. During his journey to the Midwest, the Canadian-born author met up with a few of Tide’s leading voices working to solve the cold water question. Todd Cline, Director of R&D, North America Fabric Care, of sat down with Gladwell to share the history, innovation and chemistry behind the cold water conundrum. From the Brand side, Amy Krehbiel, Brand VP of Laundry, North America Fabric Care, talked Malcolm through Tide’s long-term commitment to cold water washing as well as the consumer habit change necessary to break through on the topic.
“The most environmentally sustainable detergent is, by definition, the most sophisticated detergent,” said Gladwell during the episode. “You can't limit your carbon footprint without putting an army of engineers and bench scientists on the job.”
When the podcast was recorded, less than 50 percent of the United States’ 25 billion annual loads of laundry were washed in cold water. As a part of Tide’s Ambition 2030, the Brand is committed to converting three out of every four loads in the United States to cold water cycles. By turning to cold, consumers can save up to $150 a year on their energy bill, save energy that helps reduce the environmental impact and still receive a better clean with Tide in cold than the bargain brand on hot. And what was perhaps Gladwell’s favorite benefit – cold water washes are less strenuous on fabrics and can help to extend the life of your garments. Click here to read more about the science behind cold-water wash on our blog.
Revisionist History’s sixth season has, yet again, ranked as a top 10 most-popular podcast across Spotify, Apple Podcast, Stitcher and other podcasting networks with some episodes generating as many as 3 million downloads per episode, per The New York Times.
This was Malcolm Gladwell’s first of three prominent engagements with Procter & Gamble in 2021 as he returned twice – once for the P&G employee podcast, More than Soap, and once more for Signal 10. Click here to watch Malcolm’s presentation at Signal 10.