Before there was Stone Cold Steve Austin, there was cold power soap

Tracey Folly

*this is a work of nonfiction as told to me by my mother based on actual events that she experienced personally

Ice-T would have been just a little boy back in the 1960s, but my mother was already a big fan of washing the laundry in cold water.

Have you seen these commercials starring Stone Cold Steve Austin and Ice-T as the Tide Cold Callers? The unlikely duo is making phone calls — cold calls to be specific — to unsuspecting consumers and telling them why and how they should be using cold water to wash their laundry.

Every time my mother sees that commercial, she scoffs.

“I’ve been washing clothes in cold water since the 1960s,” she told me. “We used to wash clothes in hot water because all our detergent was powdered. If you didn’t use hot water, it clumped and left a mess all over the wash.

“One day, our hot water stopped working. I called a repair guy, and he said he wouldn’t be able to come to the house for weeks. It wasn’t like it is now where you can get someone to your house within hours.

“Well, I was worried about how I was going to wash the laundry without any hot water. I had a baby using cloth diapers; I couldn’t just let the wash pile up in the basement.

“That’s when someone told me about Cold Power soap.”

Don’t worry. This isn’t an advertisement for Cold Power soap. Personally, I’ve never even seen it on the shelf. I didn’t even think it existed anymore, but I was wrong.

A quick internet search revealed this Wikipedia entry: “Cold Power is a brand of laundry detergent by Colgate-Palmolive. It was originally sold in the United States during the 1960s and into the early 1970s, but the brand was discontinued due to lagging sales.”

“Now,” my mother continued. “You can use any kind of soap in cold water.”

And that’s the story of how my mother discovered you can indeed wash your clothes in cold water, even in the 1960s when all the detergent was powered and threatened to leave a white residue on your clean clothes except, of course, for Cold Power soap.

If you missed it, here are Stone Cold Steve Austin and Ice-T in the roles they were born to play.

I always wondered why my mother never used hot water to wash her clothes. I had always thought it had something to do with wanting to conserve energy and money since it's cheaper to use cold water than to run that same cold water through a boiler, thus consuming oil, gas, electricity, or some other type of energy that costs money.

There's also the fade factor. Clothes washed in cold water simply hold their shape and color better. They look better--unless of course, you wind up with that white residue that kept her from washing clothes in hot water back in the1960s before she found out about Cold Power.

If it had happened today, maybe she would have used the same detergent hawked by Stone Cold Steve Austin and Ice-T. What do we use today? Cold water and a cheap generic detergent. It gets the job done for less.

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Ordained Minister, Universal Life Church

Massachusetts State

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