What setting did you use the last time you washed a load of laundry? Many people prefer hot water, but is it really best for getting your clothes clean?

For years, governments have encouraged individuals to use cold water for their wash. Learning about the pros and cons will help you decide if you should use hot or cold water to get your laundry clean.

Washing Clothes In Cold Water pros and cons

Pay Attention to the Garment Tags

Many of us are guilty of throwing all our laundry into one load, never really paying attention to the garment tag and its washing instructions. Not paying heed to the garment tags can damage your clothes or make them wear out much sooner.

garment tag

Pros of Washing Laundry in Cold Water

Cold water is the safest temperature for washing almost all clothing. You cannot go wrong by choosing the cold water setting on your washing machine for the following reasons.

Cold Water Removes Stains

If you are over the age of forty, it has likely been drilled into your brain that hot water cleans better. After all, you take a hot shower to remove the day’s grime.

The truth is, that hot water is not always the best. In some cases, washing clothes in hot water can cause the stains to be set deep. For instance, cold water cleans sweat stains much better than hot water.

Cold water is best for blood, grease, ink, sweat, and many more types of stains. Try using cold water on your laundry to see the difference it makes.

stains on a white tshirt

Cold Water Is Gentler

Yet another pro of washing your laundry in cold water is its gentleness. Cold water is much more gentle on sensitive fabrics, such as silk and lace. Cold water makes these fabrics less likely to shrink or change shape.

Cold Water Is More Environmentally Friendly

Those seeking to lessen their carbon footprints will appreciate cold water being more environmentally friendly. Cold water requires much less energy than hot, making it better for the environment. If every household in America switched to cold water, we could save 1,600 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

eco friendly sign

Cold Water Causes Fewer Wrinkles

Another benefit of washing in cold water is reduced wrinkles. This pro ties in with the environmental benefits too because if there are no wrinkles, you do not have to heat up the iron and use more energy.

Cons of Washing Clothes in Cold Water

No method of washing clothes is going to be perfect, though cold water methods come close. The following are some of the cons you can expect from washing your clothes in cold water.

Washing in Cold Water Does Not Kill Germs

If you have been around someone who is sick or handled a germy mess, washing in cold water is not ideal. You need hot water and soap to kill the germs that attached themselves to your clothing. You should always wash towels and bedding in hot water to sanitize them.

Cold Water Is Bad For Some Fabrics

Some fabrics wash and look better when washed in hot water. Fabrics like spandex, polyester, and Nylon should all be washed in hot water. Knitted clothing or blankets will also wash better in hot.

Cold Water Does Not Kill Insects

Insects like bed bugs and fleas can survive the washing process. The lack of heat allows the larvae and eggs to survive, which can lead to an infestation in your home. Sometimes, hot water is best.

bed bug under magnifying glass in bedroom

Some Detergents Do Not Perform Well in Cold Water

In the middle of winter, your cold water could be around 40 degrees or even less, depending on where you live. Most laundry detergents do not begin working until they are in water that is 60 degrees or higher.

There are some laundry detergents formulated to work in cold water. If you live in a cold environment, it may be best to stick with hot water, especially in the winter.

laundry detergent bottles

When Should You Avoid Cold Water in Your Laundry?

The following hints should help you know when to avoid cold water for your load of laundry.

  • Never use cold water if the garment tag recommends hot.
  • Never use cold water for cloth diapers, heavily soiled clothing, towels, or bedding.
  • Do not use cold water for whites.
  • Do not use cold water for tomato and other fruit stains, as these respond best to hot water.

Cold Water Is Best, But Not Always

Unless you are dealing with one of the situations above or have a manmade fabric, like Nylon or spandex, it is safe to use cold water in your laundry.

Sometimes, it is best to use hot water. Always read the garment tag first before throwing all your garments into the wash.

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