You have probably known since childhood that laundry needs to be sorted and washed at different temperatures, but facing all of the different settings on your washing machine can still be daunting. Knowing what to expect from different washing temperatures can help you make decisions as you go without having to memorize a list that might not even cover all situations. Here’s the little-known truth about laundry temperature.
What Laundry Temperature Does
The process of making dirty laundry clean is actually fairly complex, and water temperature plays a critical role. In theory, hotter water cleans better. In the real world, selecting the wrong laundry temperature setting can wreak havoc on your clothes.
Water that is “hot,” or above 130 F, should be reserved for very soiled or germy laundry, such as cloth diapers and grimy sports uniforms. It can also be used to brighten whites and as an occasional disinfectant for towels and sheets. Colors can fade in hot water, so be careful only to wash like colors together. Bright colors sometimes look uneven after a hot water wash, and some fabrics can shrink, so use the hot setting very sparingly.
At approximately 90 F, warm water is best for general laundry. It provides strong cleaning power with little risk for fading or shrinking. Jeans and other daily-wear items that are not heavily stained are easily cleaned in warm water. If you are not sure which setting to pick for a particular load, warm water is almost always your best option.
Very dark or very bright colors, as well as delicate items, should be washed in cold water, which is below 80 F. Blood, coffee, and red wine stains must always be washed in cold water to avoid setting the stain, even if you later re-wash the item in warm or hot water.
Some people recommend washing all laundry in cold water to save energy, but this is not necessarily the best move. Cold water does not have as much cleaning power as warm or hot water. You will likely need to pre-treat even minor stains, or even wash a load twice to get it fully clean. There are a few cold water detergents on the market that work fairly well, but in general, expect to use more detergent when washing in cold water. If the water temperature falls below 60 F, which is common in the winter, even cold water detergents may not clean your clothes at all.
Always select a cold water rinse, if your machine provides that option, no matter what wash temperature you selected. Cold rinsing saves energy and reduces wrinkling, and has no negative impact on laundry.
Choosing the right laundry temperature can feel daunting, but it really comes down to just a few major considerations. Heavily soiled items do best in hot water. Warm water is best for everyday wear. Cold water is essential for certain stains, as well as delicates and very bright or dark colors. Always check the tag, if there is one, for further instructions.
Of course, another option is to sign up with a laundry delivery service. Just toss your laundry in the designated bag, set it outside at the agreed-upon time, and it will be delivered to your doorstep neatly folded and ready to put away.
Laundry Magician has been serving the Cincinnati region since 2010. We provide eco-friendly, affordable, and convenient service with a personal touch. Contact us today by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (513) 806-2037 to discuss custom pricing and delivery options.