Every time you do laundry, you’re faced with the question: hot or cold water in the wash cycle? Depending on habits, it’s easy just to select the same wash cycle temperature each time, but is there any benefit in selecting a different temperature for different scenarios? For most cases, cold water will clean clothes effectively and safely while using less energy, but there are times when hot water has the advantage. Here’s what you should know about washing your clothes in hot and cold water:
Washing Clothes in Hot Water
As a rule of thumb, hot and warm water should not be used for all loads in the washing machine. It is always important to check the labels on your clothing to learn about washing requirements, as some fabric types will be damaged by hot water. Similarly, hot water may cause your clothes to shrink and fade color over time.
Typically, fabrics that are safe to wash with hot water include certain synthetic fibers such as nylon or polyester, as well as preshrunk cotton. Never wash materials such as wool, silk, viscose, or other delicate fibers with hot water. Hot water also uses more energy than a cold wash cycle, without any real benefits. However, there are times when you should run your washing machine with hot water. If clothing is seriously soiled or needs to be sanitized, hot water is the best option.
Pros of Hot Water:
Effective in removing grime from soiled clothing
Best option for sanitizing fabrics
Cons of Hot Water:
Uses more energy than a cold wash cycle
May damage, shrink, or fade certain fabrics
Washing Clothes in Cold Water
Cold water is the best option for most laundry loads. There is the belief that cold water is for dark clothing, while hot water is for white clothing, but the results show that cold water is best regardless of clothing colors and material, as long as it is wash-safe. One of the major benefits aside from saving energy is that cold water preserves the life of your clothes and will neither shrink nor fade fabric materials.
One thing to be aware of when washing your clothes in cold water is to check the actual temperature of the water to ensure that it allows the detergent to be fully rinsed off at the end of the wash cycle. Otherwise, you may find light streaks of detergent on darker clothes that weren’t washed away.
Pros of Cold Water:
Won’t shrink or fade your clothing
Prolongs the life of your clothing
Cons of Cold Water:
Not as effective at removing heavily soiled clothes
Can not sanitize clothing
May leave detergent marks if water is too cold
One tip applicable to both washing your clothes in hot and cold water is to remember that more detergent does not mean cleaner clothes. In fact, overusing detergent will cause the fabrics to degrade faster with no added washing benefits.