The purposes of the study are to investigate the electricity and water consumption during the washing machine operations in Europe, China, the USA, and South Korea and to associate those quantitative data with the environmental and economic impacts in terms of CO2 equivalent emission (CO2 eq.) and monetary cost. The consumption data were collected for the washing machine of the first-grade energy efficiency in those regions. Drum washing machine operation in Europe consumed the most electricity because of the operations mostly included the temperature elevation of water. The machine operation in China produced relatively larger amount of kg CO2 eq./cycle/kg due to the primarily coal-sourced power generation. The relative cost of electricity over water during the washing operations in the USA was significantly smaller, due to the relatively lower cost of electricity in the USA. From the laboratory experiments that examined the optimal washing conditions in terms of washing efficiency and environmental favorability, the elongated mechanical action instead of temperature elevation during wash process was suggested to achieve the effective washing performance, while significantly saving the electricity. Also, two times of rinsing processes achieved the effective enough rinsing performance, suggesting that extra rinsing process from the hygiene concern deserves reconsideration for more sustainable laundering practice.
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