When you look up how to clean them something, you inevitably find that you’re instructed to use cold or hot water. But really, what’s the difference?
The difference between cleaning with cold and hot water
The first major difference in killing germs. You can use a steamer to sterilise your countertops, for instance, because it’s so hot. But hot water can make some dirty situations worse. Warmer water is a no-go for protein-based stains like dairy and blood, and it can also cause some stains to loosen and spread. That won’t necessarily mean you can’t remove them, but it’ll certainly drag out the amount of time it takes.
When to clean with cold water
In addition to using cold water to help lift stains from fabrics, you should be using it to dilute chemical solutions like bleach. Water that’s too warm can actually break down the solution, so even if you think it’s overall better for germ-busting to turn the tap on hot, just let the bleach handle that.
When cleaning wooden floors or furniture, try to stick with room-temperature water, as using some that’s piping hot could actually warp the material. Per Hearthwood Floors, it can dissolve the lustre of your flooring and seep deeper into the wood than cold water would.
When to use warm water
Break out the warm water when you want to dislodge crusted- or caked-on grime, say from dishes or a rack. Also, while you shouldn’t be using warm water to dilute any store-bought chemicals, you should use it if you’re sprucing up the DIY way by using vinegar, baking soda, or similar at-home hacks.
When it doesn’t matter
Sometimes, blessedly, it just doesn’t matter what temperature water you’re using. When you’re power washing something or briefly rinsing off soap, it doesn’t matter if you use hot or cold. And for a regular old load of laundry — not one where you’re trying to remove a stain, washing clothes made with synthetic fabrics, or trying to sanitize fabrics after someone’s been sick — you can use hot or cold water (and you might as well use cold if you want to save energy). Just check your clothing labels first.
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