Most modern washing machines offer a dazzling array of settings on their dials. From delicates to bulky towels to speed wash, those of us actually doing laundry might feel that there’s a setting for every laundry situation. However, one simple yet puzzling question remains: whether to wash in hot or cold water. If you’ve ever stood over the temperature dial on your washing machine wondering which temperature to choose, this article is for you. Read on to learn when you should use hot water or cold water, and you’ll be a washing pro in no time.
When to use hot water?
Hot water is ideal for removing germs or cleaning heavily soiled clothes but it can also be damaging to some fabrics, so you shouldn’t automatically use it just because something is really dirty.
- In general, hot water is perfect for your load of whites since it can fade color, and is also ideal for things like cloth diapers or grimy work clothes that need a lot of love to look their best again. Use caution though, while most stains respond to hot water there are some — like blood and sweat — that actually settle in more deeply the hotter the water is.
- For manmade fibers — like spandex, nylon, and polyester — and for knits and jeans, hot water should be avoided. Hot water can damage these fabrics and lead to shrinking or fading. Hot water is also less eco-friendly than using cold water so use it sparingly or you might see your energy bill spike.
- If you have heavily soiled clothes that don’t fit neatly in the whites bin, consider using warm water to get the grime out without worrying about shrinking, fading, or damaging your items.
When to use cold water?
Using cold water is an energy-efficient way to get clothes clean and to keep clothes looking fresh and bright. Instead of tossing your brights and colors into a hot or warm cycle, consider washing them on cold to preserve their brightness.
- Cold water is also ideal for new clothing whose dyes may bleed during the first, or first few, washes. Delicate fabrics like lace and silk should also always be washed on cold to prevent the fabric from wearing thin too quickly. Another bonus of washing in cold water? Cold water can actually reduce wrinkles which will save you ironing time and the cost of energy associated with ironing.
- It’s important to note though that your washer’s setting should never be below 60 degrees as no laundry detergents perform well in water that frigid. As you drop the temperature on your settings too, remember you’ll need a little more detergent than you would if you were washing in hot water in order for your clothes to get truly clean.
If you’ve got heavily soiled clothes that you can’t wash in hot water due to their fabric type or color, you might need to pretreat or soak them prior to washing to make sure they come out looking fresh and ready to be worn.
So, next time you head to the laundry room, remember when you should wash in cold, when to shift the dial to warm, and when you should turn the heat all the way up and choose your wash temperature with confidence! Start every load with confidence knowing you’ll get it right every time with this simple guide of when to use which temperature.