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How to Select the Right Water Temperature for Laundry

Hot, Warm or Cold Water for Laundry?

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When to Use Hot Water for Washing

Drawing by MML

How do you select the correct water temperature for laundry? Read the care labels on each piece of clothing. You'll find the information you need to choose both your 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.

If the label is missing or unclear, wash with cold water. Using cold water will cause the least damage like shrinking, fading or color bleeding. If you are not satisfied with the results, you can then try warm or hot water. Once you have some experience under your belt, you'll find that some fabrics can be cleaned at one of several temperatures.

One tip that works with all cycles and fabrics, is to use a cold water rinse. Rinse water has little effect on stain removal or cleaning; so cold water works just as well to rinse away detergents and suspended soil. Set the washer dial on cold rinse and leave it for every load.

When To Use Hot Water

When to Use Warm Water

  • Benefits: Helps to dissolve powdered detergents, more energy savings than hot water
  • Good For: Washable man-made fabrics like nylon, polyester, spandex and rayon blends; lightly soiled clothes
  • Problems: Can fade some colors, does not sanitize fabrics, cannot remove some heavy soils and stains

When To Use Cold Water

  • Benefits: Most energy efficient water temperature, less likely to shrink items or fade them, acceptable for any washable fabric
  • Good For: Dark and bright-colored clothes, delicate fabrics
  • Problems: Less efficient for removing stains; will not sanitize clothes

For best results with cold water washing, pretreat stains before washing. Use a liquid detergent or one formulated for cold water.

Specific questions? Just ask here.

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