Procter & Gamble, Dow Chemical and Novozymes are among the companies seeking to perfect cold-water detergents and get customers to embrace the concept. "We're seeing enzymes evolve from being an add-in to being a cooperating ingredient you need to get the low-temperature cleaning the consumer wants," said Jesper Duus Nielsen of Novozymes. But research suggests that more than 80% of electricity use in the wash cycle comes from dryers -- a factor that's out of detergent companies' control.

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