The Pros and Cons of Washing Clothes With Cold Water

The Pros and Cons of Washing Clothes With Cold Water

When it comes to laundry, there are many things I did not know until far too late in life. Case in point, is it really better to wash your clothes in cold water?

In my mind, doing a cold water cycle in my washing machine helps to save energy and preserve the life of my clothes. However, that may not be the case according to an expert at Hisense, who has provided us with some tips and facts regarding cold water washing.

We’re here to run down the pros and cons of using a cold water wash.

Why you shouldn’t wash your clothes in cold water

Washing machines these days offer a myriad of different settings and cycles. But, according to Barry O’Brien, National Whitegoods Product Trainer at Hisense, the cold wash is one to avoid.

“Generally speaking, you want to do your washing with warmer water. Most detergents need a little heat to help run through your washing properly, as they need a temperature of about 25-30 degrees Celsius to activate.”

Along with breaking down your detergent, O’Brien also pointed to the effective cleaning power of warmer water:

“Washing in warm to hot water is also important when it comes to sanitation as hot water helps eliminate germs, and reduce the chance of dirt and residue accumulating around the interior of the washing machine’s drum,” he continued.

I know that one reason I’ve never used a hot water wash is because I believed my washing machine was only connected to cold water. As it turns out, most washing machines don’t need a hot water hose connected these days; they simply heat the water within the machine – technology these days!

To find out whether your washing machine is capable of this, have a thorough check of the manual or online product description of your model.

Why you should use a cold water wash cycle

If you are like me, you’re probably wondering whether hot water washes are as sustainable, and therefore as affordable, as cold water washes.

The experts over at Westinghouse Australia told us that cold water is in fact just as good for our clothes.

“Many people think that washing on cold will not give you the same cleaning power as a warm wash, but it actually gives you the same power while also using a lot less electricity. Not only that, when you put on a hot wash it usually sets stains in more compared to a cold wash,” they said.

On this point, O’Brien said it’s important to consider the larger picture.

“Although cold water washing is energy efficient, it sacrifices the quality of the wash, which may result in you having to re-wash your clothes,” he said.

As to O’Brien’s previous point about cold water not activating detergent, it is true that some types will not dissolve as effectively in cold washes. So be sure to look into the type of laundry powder you’re using and make sure it is suitable for a cold water wash.

Some washing machines include energy-efficient features such as eco-mode washes.

According to Appliances Online, most eco washes are designed to “minimise water and energy usage”; however, some will also cool the temperature of the water to do this, so check your machine’s manual to find out what exactly this setting will do during the cycle.

Which wash cycle is better?

As you can see there are arguments both for and against using cold water to wash clothes.

Another of my preconceptions about hot water washes is the potential they have to damage your clothes during a cycle.

For this, O’Brien said it’s important to check the fabric care labels of your clothes before each wash. Generally, as outlined by Canstar Blue, silk, wool, lace fabrics and dark colours may be damaged or lose their vibrancy in a hot wash, so are best left to cold cycles.

This, of course, requires you to separate your laundry, and we get into the specifics of that here.

While we wish we could just recommend a wash cycle that would be a catch-all for your clothes, it appears that the best recommendation is to adjust your wash cycle for the load you’re doing. You’re best to read the labels on your fabrics and then pair them against the cycle options in your washing machine manual to decide which kind of water cycle is appropriate.

This article has been updated with additional information.

Lead Image: iStock

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