How to Choose The Best Water Temperature for Laundry

How to Choose The Best Water Temperature for Laundry

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Take a minute to read the care labels on each piece of clothing. You’ll find the information you need to choose both the best water temperature and the type of washing cycle. Following the recommendations on the label is especially important if you are a laundry novice or if the garment is new.

Generations thought that hot water was the only way to get clothes clean. But progress has brought us different types of fabrics, much better washing machines that use mechanical action to remove soil, and far better laundry detergents that use surfactants and enzymes to lift and remove soil from fabrics.

There are still times when hot water is needed to give the cleaning and sanitation results you need. Follow this water temperature guide for laundry.

When to Use Hot Water for Laundry
White cotton clothes (underwear) worn close to the body, bed and kitchen linens, bath towels, heavily soiled or sweaty garments, oily stains and sick bed linens
Benefits: Cleans heavy soil and is best for oily stains, sanitizes linens infected with bacteria or fungus, kills insects
Problems: Can fade colors, sets protein stains and shrinks some fabrics
When to Use Warm Water for Laundry
Washable man-made fabrics like nylon, polyester, spandex and rayon blends; lightly soiled clothes
Benefits: Helps to dissolve powdered detergents, offers more energy savings than hot water
Problems: Can fade some colors, does not sanitize fabrics, cannot remove some heavy soils and stains
When to Use Cold Water for Laundry
Dark and bright-colored clothes, delicate fabrics
Benefits: Most energy efficient and cost-saving water temperature, less likely to shrink items or fade them, acceptable water temperature for any washable fabric
Problems: Less efficient for removing stains; will not sanitize clothes. For best results with cold water washing, pretreat stains before washing. Use a heavy-duty, enzyme-based liquid laundry detergent or one formulated for cold water. Allow heavier soiled items to presoak in the water/detergent solution to give the solution more time to break apart stains from fabrics.

What Are the Differences in Washer Water Temperatures?
In most clothes washers, the hot water setting is 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4 Celsius) or above. Check your washer manual and your home hot water heater settings for specifics. If you have a washer with a steam cycle, that will increase the temperature in each load.

The warm water setting is between 110 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3-32.2 degrees Celsius). And, the cold water setting is between 80 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit (26.7-15 degrees Celsius). During the winter, outdoor temperatures can greatly affect cold water temperatures. If the cold water drawn into your washer is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 Celsius), powdered detergents will have a difficult time dissolving leaving white residue streaks and clothes are unlikely to be cleaned very well.

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