If you’re anything like me, you tend to stick to one or two wash cycles and not really think about your laundry too deeply!

But the truth is, a lot of our laundry can be washed at a lower temperature, saving money and energy. In fact, some items, like bright colours and delicate fabrics, are better off being washed at lower temperatures to prevent damage.

Read on to find out which items you should be washing at certain temperatures, and how to get your machine sparkling clean with the occasional hot wash.

Cold wash – 30°c (or less)

Did you know you can wash quite a lot of clothes on a cold wash? For example:

  • Bright colours – bright colours hold their vibrancy better when washed at 30°c. It helps to prevent colours from bleeding and fading.
  • Delicate fabrics – fabrics like wool and silk need to be washed at colder temperatures to prevent them from shrinking (just make sure to check the wash care symbols on the label first).
  • Lightly soiled clothing – if your clothing is just lightly soiled or has only been worn once, a colder wash will clean them just fine.
  • Jeans jeans should be washed on a cold cycle to prevent the colour from bleeding or the material shrinking. If they’re particularly filthy though, they can go on a 40 degree wash in most instances.
  • Shoes – if you have shoes you’re washing in the machine, they need to go on a cold, delicate wash to prevent damage.

Warm wash – 40-60°c

Whites wash well at a warmer temperature
Image credit: Karolina Grabowska

Some items need to be washed in warmer temperatures. This includes:

  • Very dirty clothing – for example, soiled clothing or workout gear. This needs to be washed at warmer temperatures to remove odours.
  • White and light colours – warmer temperatures are better at removing stains on white items. Plus, you don’t need to worry about the colours bleeding, so they can handle hotter water without getting ruined.
  • Bedding or clothing following an illness – if you’re washing the bedding after someone in your household is sick, for example, you’ll want to go for a higher temperature to kill off those pesky germs.
  • Jeans – if your jeans are particularly dirty, in most instances they can be washed at 40°c.
  • Towels – any lingering odours or bacteria trapped in towels will be taken care of at this temperature.
  • Bedding – bedding can be washed at 40°c. However, if the person sleeping in that bedding has been unwell, washing at 60°c is a good call to make sure any bacteria is removed.

Hot wash – 70°c plus

There aren’t many items that can be washed at these temperatures without causing damage or shrinking. But labels of the items in question will indicate the temperatures they can tolerate, if unsure. However, if you’re going to clean your washing machine, a hot wash is a good call.

To wash your machine, you can just run it on empty with a cup full of white vinegar. This will break down any bacteria and dirt and leave the inside sparkling clean!

All you need to do then is wipe down the outside of the machine, remove the drawer, and wash it in a bowl of hot soapy water to remove any build-up from washing powder and fabric conditioner.

As an extra tip: make sure to leave the door of your machine wide open for a while after each wash to prevent mould from forming on the rubber drum seal.

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