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Cold, Warm, or Hot: Which is Best for Your Clothes in the Washing Machine?

Posted by Andres Jimenez on
temperature for washing clothes


For the amount of laundry that we do on a regular basis, few of us take the time to really think about the temperature of the water.  But, the reality is, whether you go with cold, warm, or hot water, this can really affect the output of those laundering sessions. 

So, which temperature is ultimately best for your washing machine?

Answer: It All Really Depends

At the end of the day, there’s no single temperature setting that’s the best choice for all of your laundering needs.  After all, there is a reason why three specific options exist.  You see, each garment or other type of fabric we have has specific temperature needs, and the temperature you choose also depends on other aspects of each load.

Ultimately, it’s best to follow the directions on the label of the product, where there should be clear instructions about which temperature setting is ideal.  But, if you cannot find that info anywhere, don’t fear – we’re here to help you figure things out.

And, before we do that, we want to make a couple broader statements about laundry temperature.  One is that cold water is always going to be cheaper, so keep that in mind if budget is a big factor for you.  Also, hot water is better at cleaning by far, but it can also cause the most damage to your materials over time. 

Essentially, while the information below offers a general guide, you’ll still want to make some personal decisions that are best for you.

Cold Water

Cold water (less than 80 degrees) is the best choice for everyday laundry, according to most people.  It uses 90% less energy than hot water, while still being perfectly effective at giving you clean, fresh clothes.  In fact, cold water can even get rid of most food stains.  Besides that, cold water is far less likely to cause colors to run or fade, cause pilling of materials and wear down fabrics after repeated washes.  And, today’s detergents are more effective at cleaning very well so that you don’t need hot water to take on all of that burden.

Warm Water

Warm water, which is between 80 and 130 degrees, is ideal for whites, as it’s more likely to restore their brightness and remove mild stains.  It’s also ideal for towels and bedsheets, as well as sports jerseys.  Warm water can cause colors to bleed, which is why you want to avoid mixing colors and whites together.  And, warm water can cause some mild shrinkage of clothing and wearing down of materials, so keep that in mind if you wash certain items very often.

Hot Water

Hot water, which is above 130 degrees, is best saved for those times when you need a heavier-duty laundering session.  This includes washing clothing that is heavily dirty, and especially whites, along with towels and bedding.  Again, read the label of each garment or other type of fabric item before running it in hot water, just to make sure that it can handle the high temperatures.  Be mindful that hot water can set a lot of different kinds of stains, including blood, many food stains and coffee or wine.  

Get Your Laundry Temperatures Just Right

Overall, most of your weekly laundry loads will do just fine with cold water.  But, there are times when warm and hot water will be necessary.  Again, read the label, and weigh the pros and cons of each temperature setting to make the best choice for your fabrics.  And, use the right detergent, such as at Grab Green Home, to effectively clean clothes at any temperature.

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