How important is the right laundry temperature?
It directly affects how well your laundry detergent (and any disinfecting or sanitizing additives) clean, and it also affects the life span of your clothes.
So it's essential to follow the care labels.
Faded care tags, missing tags? No problem. This laundry refresher will have you setting the wash water temperature like a pro in no time. Your wallet will thank you.
Sure, the quickest way to do the laundry is to separate the whites, lights, and darks and then wash each load in cold water.
But the time you save using the "everything in cold" routine (ostensibly to prevent color transfer) may not be worth the cost to your wardrobe.
Cold water doesn't clean some dirty fabrics nearly as well as warmer temperatures. It can leave them looking dingy and worn instead of bright and clean.
And you'll be back in the store looking for new chinos or Oxford shirts sooner than if you had taken a few moments to wash them at the proper water temperature.
Look to the care label on your clothes for guidance on the optimal laundry temperature for the fabric. Today's international care labels often have symbols as well as, or instead of, words. Most are pretty self-explanatory.
A tub-like icon with dots tells you the recommended wash temperature. Translate as one dot for cool/cold, two for warm, three for hot.
If the label is not legible, remember that hot water works well on ground-in and hard-to-remove dirt on sturdy fabrics. Still, few clothing care labels recommend regular hot-water washing.
Don't mix lights and darks, however, as hotter temperatures can cause some fabrics to bleed.
Use hot water to sanitize seriously soiled clothes (gardening or children's clothing) and regularly disinfect clothes, dish towels, washcloths, bath towels, bedding, and pillowcases.
Generally speaking, whites, very dirty or greasy clothes, and sturdy colorfast fabrics that retain their dye can be washed in hot water (Whites warrant the solo treatment, no matter what the temperature.)
Warm water minimizes color fading and wrinkling. A warm water wash temperature is (90 degrees F.; 32 degrees C).
Choose it to wash regular and sturdy fabrics, towels, jeans, cottons, sheets, sturdy playwear, school uniforms, 100 percent handmade fibers, and moderately soiled stuff.
Use cold water (80 degrees F.; 27 degrees C.) for dark or bright colors that may run or fade; delicate fabrics, including washable silk, swimsuits, activewear; and delicate lingerie.
Cold water will minimize the shrinking of washable woolens. It's also okay for lightly soiled clothes.
Always use cold water for clothes stained with blood, wine, or coffee. Warm water could set these stains.
When doing a cold-water wash, check clothes first for visible stains and pretreat with a laundry stain remover before washing.
For the rinse cycle, cold water is excellent for all types of loads. A cold-water rinse saves the energy used per load by up to one-third and minimizes wrinkling in synthetic and permanent press fabrics.
Now that you know how to choose the right temperature, wash-day blues are a thing of the past!